ATHLETE AND EXPLORER INTERVIEW SERIES: CODY HOWARD

July 31st, 2017 by
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We sat down for some Q&A with one of our new Explorers, adventure photographer Cody Howard! Stay up to date on his latest adventures around Chicago at @howardventurous.

Bucket List Travel Destination: Horseback camping in Patagonia, Chile has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

Coffee Set-Up While Traveling: Here is a quick coffee hack for you: Grab your Stanley vacuum bottle and head to your local coffee roaster shortly before you’re heading out. Have them fill it with your favorite in-house blend, it will cost you less than $3.00 and you’ll have 5 cups worth of coffee that will be hot for 24 hours!

Favorite Thing about Chicago: The options! In Chicago there is always something to do (especially in the summer): Free concerts & movies in Millennium Park, music festivals nearly every weekend, museums, and outdoor activities along the lake shore. It’s impossible to be bored in this city.

On Finding Outdoor Inspiration in a Big City: This can be a tough one at times, especially growing up in rural Kansas where nature was easily accessible. Luckily, Chicago borders Lake Michigan and has 580 parks within city limits. Places like Humboldt Park are great spots to enjoy nature and make it easy to forget you’re in the middle of a major city.

Favorite Method of Travel (Car, Plane, Train, Other): Great question. Depending on the time you have, Amtrak can be a great way to see the United States. Though, a bicycle has to be my favorite. I have found so many cool things that I never would have seen if I hadn’t been riding my bike. Putting in the effort makes you slow down and really be aware of your surroundings, plus it’s a blast!

HOW TO SPEND 7 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM

July 12th, 2017 by
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I recently spent a whirlwind few days exploring Amsterdam and fell in love with its colorful house-lined canals, cute cafés, and fascinating history. My husband and I travel to a new place each year for our anniversary; this year, we decided on the “Venice of the North” and it did not disappoint. – Munk Pack Explorer @brittanyexplores

The city itself was way more spread out than I had imagined. We explored mainly on foot, but also by train, ferry, tram, and even canal boat. I was surprised to find out that the canals that characterize Amsterdam aren’t just a section of the city, they actually make up the entire city and wind around for miles. 

Highlights of our trip included, (but are not limited to!):

– THE PANCAKES. Forget everything you know about pancakes. Dutch pancakes are delectable, as are their dessert cousin, stroopwaffels.

THE VAN GOGH MUSEUMGet tickets beforehand for the earliest slot of the day and you can be one of the first people inside, which allows you to soak in the artwork without obstruction or distraction. Seeing such well-known art right in front of my face was even more impressive than I’d imagined.

– ZAANSE SCHANS. About a 20 minute train ride outside of Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans is a preserved historic windmill village, and the windmills are still in use! It gives you a glance into Dutch history and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon away from the city.

VONDELPARK. Strolling through the park on a sunny day was beautiful, but you can also explore by bike if you’d like.

OEDIPUS BREWING. Taking the ferry over to Amsterdam-Noord to check out Oedipus Brewing, which has a lively taproom and delicious craft beers.

– CANAL CRUISE BOAT TOUR. We always do a touristy bus or boat tour when traveling because it turns out to be the best way sightsee while being informed on the history of the city.

– THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE. It feels a little weird to say that this one was SO cool, but it really was. It was extremely surreal to be in the famous Annex where Anne’s family was in hiding during the war. We were also able to learn more about her story, as well as about Amsterdam at that time.

– THE JORDAAN. This was my favorite neighborhood of Amsterdam. It has the most picturesque canals, lined with restaurants and cafés, as well as lots of unique shops and galleries. Grab a beer on the water’s edge, observe the boaters and bicyclists constantly cruising by, then go for some pizza at La Perla!

Planning a trip to Amsterdam and have a question? Send me a DM @brittanyexplores!

ATHLETE AND EXPLORER INTERVIEW SERIES: JO SAVAGE

June 6th, 2017 by
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We’re psyched to launch our new blog series highlighting our awesome team of Athletes + Explorers. First up, we’re interviewing Jo Savage, AKA @savagedangerwolf. Read on and find out what she’s all about!

Summer Travel Plans:  My plans tend to fall into place without much notice! I tend to be on the road every week or two cruising to another awesome place in the Wonderful West.  I document and enjoy camping, climbing, fly fishing, hiking and overall adventuring. A friend and I are trying to pull together a photo/video project of a multi-sport, cultural, and tropical get away around August… so we shall see!

Song of the Summer:  This is an awesome question because I spend so much time on the road.  Currently on the positive, upbeat vibes of “Not My Day” by Keith James feat. CeeLo Green.

Bucket List Travel Destination:  Cuba, Australia and New Zealand.

Favorite Photo Shoot of 2017:  I took a ten day Baja and SoCal road trip with my girls right after Outdoor Retailer at the beginning of February.  We camped on a desolate beach south of Tijuana and on a bluff in Encinitas.  I shot for ten different projects during that time and we had an absolute blast and ate countless tacos!  Girl time is so important.

Travel Essentials/Hacks:  I always take my reusable water bottle, coffee mug, and a “Bluey” on the road.  A Bluey is a 7 gallon blue, BPA free water tank that I can fill for $2, or free- from the water hose.  That way I have plenty of water for my dog, Boy, and me, without using multiple single-use plastic water containers.  I can refill my Hydroflask with water for free at any convenient store soda machine, and I can get all the coffee I want (and often times at a discount for bringing my own cup).  This is a wonderful way to reduce my waste.

Your Spirit Animal:  I’m definitely channel a dolphin, wolf and tiger. Rawr.

3 DAYS, 8 AMAZING OREGON WATERFALLS

December 7th, 2016 by

Sometimes you get really blessed with an awesome best friend. The kind of best friend who is always down to adventure with you. For as long as my bestie Charlotte and I have been friends, I can remember her saying she’s always wanted to go to Portland, Oregon. So when her birthday rolled around back in April, I gifted her with tickets to Portland so she could have a few of her favorite things: fog, waterfalls, and bridges. – Munk Pack Explorer, @adaezenoelle

About a week before our trip, we got together to finalize a list of places we wanted to visit. We used Roadtrippers to figure out the best route to hit all of our “must-see” spots, and off we went.

We had a lot to see and only three days to see it. First, we drove toward the Columbia River Gorge and stopped at Latourell Falls. What an amazing first stop. As you’ll soon start to see, we’€™re obsessed with waterfalls.

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I knew Multnomah Falls would be one of Charlotte’s favorites because I was pretty sure it was one of the first PNW waterfalls she fell in love with from photos she’€™d seen. And who can blame her? We got some warm beverages and some muffins at the little shop at the base of the falls and spent a while at Multnomah. If you’ve never been, please go. Just do it. This was my second time and I was still in awe.

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Next up was Oneonta Gorge. We explored around the area before changing into our rain boots. We got to the area of the gorge where you either brave the waters to go further, or enjoy the view from afar. So I went on ahead a little; definitely got water in my rain boots, but it was worth the views. I climbed some sketchy logs to gaze down a dreamy foggy gorge.

On our way to our next stop, we passed one or two other waterfalls. When we found Horsetail Falls perfectly framed by vibrant fall colors, of course we had to pull over.

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Next stop was Elowah falls, and wow — was it breathtaking! The hike to the waterfall was lined with skinny trees contrasting the fields of more bright fall colors.

We drove to Rowena Crest next. It was the king of all switchbacks, and the view was magnificent.

The next morning we drove to Trillium Lake for an unobstructed reflective view of Mount Hood. On the way, we got to enjoy even more pretty views of the hoodest mountain. It was such a babe of a mountain that it’s now my new beau.

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White River Falls was next and then Tumalo Falls, which very well might have been my favorite waterfall stop. It was so cool to be able to sit atop this mighty waterfall and then also get up right next to its base.

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Our last full day began with sunrise at Oregon’s second tallest waterfall, Salt Creek Falls. The fog was rolling in so thick here, and Charlotte and I had the whole place to ourselves.

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After Salt Creek, we drove to Crater Lake National Park area to find my dream mountain road so I could get some skateboarding in on my brand new penny skateboard! This road was an absolute dream. Plus, it was the perfect straight-on road view of Mount Thielsen.

 

 

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Toketee Falls was next. What an awesome stop. We spent so long here because the hike on the way to the falls was full of wonder and fall colors. Sadly, we didn’t have time to hike down see the falls from below. But it did reminded us of the movie Avatar.

Our last stop of the trip was on the coast at Cape Perpetua to see Thor’€™s Well. It was so refreshing. A word to the wise: wear rain boots when you go here. It was pretty neat to not have to worry about where we stepped, as there weren’€™t many dry rocks from the waves splashing everywhere making tons of huge puddles.

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Simply put, Oregon just has it all. Waterfalls, mountains, lakes, fog, the ocean, beautiful views, wood piles. Oh… I have this strange obsession with piles of wood logs. Look, it doesn’t hafta make sense — but when we found this area by a Roadhouse restaurant, I was so excited! The tallest log piles I’ve ever seen.

If you get the chance to make it out to Oregon, like I said before, just do it. Maybe that’€™s why Nike has that slogan! 

THE ADVENTURERS GUIDE TO ALASKA

November 30th, 2016 by
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If you’€™re not one for stepping off the pavement after a long flight to Alaska and exploring nooks and crannies of endless wilderness, stop reading now.

If a trip to the last frontier is the last check box on your bucket list, the agency-booked option might be right for you. Book a tour bus, rail car or cruise ship and you get to lumber past the glacial rivers, towering peaks and dark forests that lie beyond.

But I’€™m here to tell you how to take on the Alaskan Wilderness without summoning a travel agency.

Unfortunately, no, this is not the most convenient way to explore. You will have sore muscles. You will have a few headaches. But on the other hand, you will leave with wanderlust for more. And you will get to stop and smell the Arctic roses.

Step 1: Find a car

Once you land in Anchorage, renting or–if you’€™re lucky–€”borrowing a car is your first step to freedom in Alaska. You can go for a bike touring option, but you might regret it when you realize everything of interest comes in 50-mile increments. With the varying climate, your vehicle will allow you to chase some better weather if your current location isn’€™t favorable.

Step 2: Hit the trails

The greatest tragedy in Alaskan tourism today is that the charters that many book pass by hundreds of the most breathtaking hiking trails on Earth. With your handy-dandy car, you can explore the trailheads that look interesting to you. The Matanuska Valley often gets overlooked due to its residential feel. Don’€™t be fooled. The towering mountains and glacial river valleys that make its borders are host to endless adventure opportunities and life-changing scenery. An extra bonus: Most fees in Alaska’€™s recreational areas are less than $10.

Step 3: Get on the water

Alaska has about 3,197 lakes (that’€™s named lakes of which there are over 3 million unnamed lakes!), 9,728 named rivers and 6,640 miles of marine coastline. Getting in some kind of boat, at least once, is a must. Whether it’s kayaking Eklutna Lake’€™s powder-blue waters, rafting the Nenana River or meandering around glacial fjords watching for whales, there’€™s no better way to appreciate Alaska than on its water. I’€™d recommend visiting Homer, Seward and Whittier ports for viewing both wildlife and glaciers.

Step 4: Take to the air

If you’€™ve never seen a braided river from above, traced a mountain ridgeline through the window of a de Havilland Otter or touched down on the uppermost part of a glacier–€”book a flight. This experience will change the way you view wilderness, beauty and our planet. Talkeetna, an artsy town on the Susitna River, offers several flightseeing tour options through their commercial airport. If the skies are nice and you’€™re in the area, spend the cash. It may be the biggest splurge you make all year.

Only have time for a few stops? Here are my top 5 places to wander:

  1. Upper and Lower Reed Lake in Hatcher Pass
  2. Flat Top Mountain near Anchorage
  3. Alyeska Peak near Girdwood
  4. Portage Pass Trail near Whittier
  5. Chugach State Park near Eagle River

– Munk Pack Explorer, @luke_hyce

CLIMBING 101 WITH TAMMY WILSON

October 3rd, 2016 by
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You’€™ve seen the Instagram pictures of all of the rad climbers and you’€™re inspired to try it yourself. Do you want to start climbing, but don’€™t know where to start? Maybe you don’€™t have the right gear or friends to climb with. I’€™d love to teach you how to get started because it changed my life! – Munk Pack Athlete @tammyfaye

Find a Climbing Gym.

Most places, from major cities to small town USA have climbing gyms. This is an amazing place to begin learning how to climb. Somebody will literally show you the ropes. I’€™d recommend looking up the closest gym to you, and get after it!

First time? Not a problem!

All gyms offer day passes and rentals, from shoes to harnesses, chalk, and everything else you will need. Once you get to the gym make sure to tell the climbers working at the front desk that it’€™s your first time learning how to climb. They can suggest classes for you to take and help you get the gear you’€™ll need. So now you’€™ve tried it and you love it. It’€™s time to sign up for a membership and eventually get around to buying your own gear.

Classes are great tools!

They can give you the knowledge to feel more confident on the rock, and help with the basics of climbing. It’€™s also an easy way to meet people who you can start climbing with because climbing is naturally a social sport.

Now get outside!

Once you get more comfortable climbing in a gym and you have your own gear, you can start to transition to the world of outdoor climbing. It’€™s a wonderful community and also an awesome workout while hanging out with your friends. Combine some rocks, the right gear, safety knowledge, Munk Pack snacks and friends and it’€™s hard to go wrong.

TRAIL RUNNING 101

August 23rd, 2016 by
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Take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose and down to your diaphragm, filling your lungs with air. Then slowly let out your breath through your mouth while closing your eyes and contemplating your favorite outdoor memory. Think about the way the sun felt on your skin, the smell of the air; fresh and free. The feeling of being connected to the earth with a weightless body. Really though, take just a minute to contemplate or meditate on these thoughts.

Trail Running is what dreams are made of, right?

Okay, that page break definitely assured that you did the above exercise and you can now continue reading, right? If you’€™re like me you pictured a warm summer morning with an orange sun rising over the Rocky Mountain peaks. I see mountain goats picking their way over a rocky ledge while the swift sound of my breath is juxtaposed with the slower cadence of my stride on a trail 11,000 feet up. This is when time is forgotten and the concerns and uncertainties of life disappear. THIS is what my dreams are made of.

Many people have activities that provide the same therapeutic rejuvenation from the hustle and bustle of life. For me, that activity is trail running. It’€™s what tugs me out of bed at 4am. If you’€™ve never experienced the thrill and tranquility of trail running, let’€™s chat for a few minutes. Even if you have, read along and see if your experience is similar to mine.

Why would you want to trail run?

In my opinion the better question is, “€œWhy would you ever NOT want to trail run?” I have always been a lover of the outdoors and I spent summers tanning my skin under the blistering Sacramento Valley sun. I explored the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range on foot, mountain bike and canoe. I ran my first 5k with my mom in fifth-grade, beating her by only a couple of minutes. To this day, I’€™m not sure if I actually beat her or if she let me beat her. Either way, it was good for my juvenile heart.

Years later, after moving to Salt Lake City, my love of hiking began to conflict with my school schedule. It was hard to fit a hike in between classes. I began to run the downhill sections of the trails so I could cover more ground and still get outdoors. It just seemed natural. I would hike the uphills, then bomb the downhills in hiking shoes, hiking shorts and a daypack. Before long I traded out my hiking attire for running attire and have yet to look back. Whatever your reason for considering trail running is, you should do it.

Take the plunge!

Like yoga, a spiritual practice, you know that it takes patience to become good. The more often you are able to push yourself physically while trail running, the more likely you will find that feeling of vibrance and alertness in the same moment.

It’€™s never too late to start

No matter your stage of life you can start running. Maybe you’€™ve never run a step in your life. Start slow hiking the trails nearest your home. Maybe you’€™re a seasoned road runner or even a marathoner who has never dabbled in trail running. Try the trail! It will bring a new point of view to your life. If you do it often, eventually you will look back and see how every run has become connected in a chain of runs to bring a bit more peace and joy to your life.

Now think back to those first few moments of meditation at the beginning of this post. How did you feel? Peaceful and full of life? Trail running is all about the culmination of those feelings with tired legs and worn out lungs. Finding the flow where calmness and mindfulness meet doesn’€™t happen every run for me, but the more I run, the more I reach this place. My body moves freely and quickly, almost as though I am floating over the trail. It’€™s that feeling where you can sense everything, yet feel nothing. This flow is achieved through the combination of the peacefulness of the outdoors, the physical exertion of exercise and the pattern of getting out there. Moments like this are a large part of why I trail run.

– Munk Pack Explorer, @landonfaulkner_

HOW TO SURVIVE (AND ENJOY) A TRIP TO THE WAVE

July 5th, 2016 by
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You’ve probably seen beautiful photos of the geological formation in Arizona known as The Wave, but what you may not know is that since it’s such a fragile area, few people are granted access to visit. That being said, hiking out to The Wave is no walk in the park. If you’re one of the lucky ones who snag one of the few available permits, here are 8 tips to help you survive your special day in the Arizona desert from our ambassadors, @brod_trip.

1. Don’t Lose Your Map

When you win the permit lottery, you’re given a map. It’€™s vague, only providing 6 photos and descriptions as to how to make the three mile trek to the site. Since GPS isn’t reliable, there’s no cell service, and footprints could lead you off a cliff, this map is your saving grace. Hang on to it for dear life.

2. Pack Plenty of Food and Water

The desert is hot and 6 miles (round trip) is a long way. Don’t be afraid to pack at least a gallon of water and a ton of snacks. The Broad Trip is partial to Munk Pack’s Apple Quinoa Cinnamon and Peach Chia Vanilla Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze snacks.

3. Be Observant

The way you get to The Wave is the way you return, and everything in the desert looks exactly the same. Take notice of important landmarks to make your hike back as seamless as possible.

4. Go Early and Stay Late

Frankly, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity! Get the most time at The Wave as possible. Pro-tip for fellow photogs: mid-day is the best time to get photos without any shadows.

5. Dress Appropriately

The desert has a bad temper. It goes from hot to cold in a matter of hours. If you plan on staying later into the day, bring clothes for colder temperatures.

6. Overpack

If you get lost out there, it takes at least 24 hours for the Bureau of Land Management to get out there to find you. It’s better to bring too much than to not have enough.

7. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

In addition to your typical desert wildlife, weather can be a serious factor. If it’s the rainy season, pay attention to those rain clouds. Part of the hike involves trekking through a wash. If it rains enough, you could fall victim to a flash flood. Stay on your toes!

8. Enjoy It!

As long as you follow these tips and stay alert, you’ll be just fine. Get out there and enjoy The Wave in all its glory. After all, you’re one of few that get to see it firsthand!

If you can’t make it to The Wave, we’ve got you covered. Here’€™s what a day at The Wave looks like!

 

 

 

5 TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BEGINNER CLIMBERS

May 26th, 2016 by
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If you’re a beginner climber, we know it could be overwhelming trying to figure everything out on your own. We’ve asked Munk Pack Ambassador, @sav.cummins, to share her top 5 tips and tricks to make sure you get you started on the right foot.

I moved out West from Ohio to a place that had a cliff 5 minutes from where I was working and living. Climbing was the convenient thing to do during down time and I quickly fell in love with it! The company I was working for had all the equipment we needed, I never had to think about what to bring, similar to a gym setting where you can rent almost all the gear you need. Here are a few things I wish I would have taken the time to learn about when I started climbing.

1. Lay out all your gear and make sure you’ve got everything you need. There’s nothing worse than showing up to the crag only to realize you forgot your climbing shoes. My must-haves for a day of climbing include: harness, climbing shoes, chalk, tape, rope, protection (quick draws or traditional gear), helmet, personal anchor, and a belay device.
2. Food and water. Your body needs fuel, just like your car, and the harder and longer you go the more fuel you need to perform. Plan accordingly for the day, if you plan to be out for the entire day make sure you’ve got enough calories and water to power you through. Munk Pack’s Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes are great, light snacks to bring that are easy to digest and wont weigh you down in between climbs!
3. Warming up allows for you to climb longer and harder. Although each person needs something different to feel properly warmed up, it’s important to activate your core muscles, fingers, and shoulders before you try anything at or near your limit. Some simple arm swings, finger flicks, planks, and hanging on the starting holds of your route are a great way to begin your warm up.
4. You can’t be too safe in the vertical world! Check and re-check your knots, lockers, harness and partner. A simple mistake can be costly and taking the time to check yourself, your gear, and partner takes a matter of seconds #worthit!
5. Take the time to enjoy your surroundings. It’s not all about high performance and big numbers, it’s the experience that matters and climbing will always take you to beautiful places!

TIPS & TRICKS FOR MUNK PACK-FUELED ADVENTURES

March 10th, 2016 by
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When you’re on the go our Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes are ready to eat right out of the pouch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with them! Our ambassador Matt, aka @mattnovak, shares his favorite tips for enjoying Munk Pack wherever your adventure takes you.

I recently got to spend a few weeks hitting the trail and sending routes while fueling up with Munk Pack. This could not have come at a better time for me as I recently made some significant changes in my diet to not only cure some health issues, but to start to achieving what I think is closer to peak performance. And that, is exactly where Munk Pack filled in all the gaps for me. Having said all of that, I’ve developed a list of tips & tricks for Munk Pack users both on and off the trail.

Trail:

1. Are you snowshoeing? I’€™m going to take a guess and assume you don’€™t like frozen oatmeal and icy fruit bits yeah? Plan ahead and stick one of the Munk Packs in your breast pocket of your jacket. They’€™re small enough to not get in the way and your body heat keeps it at a non-freezing temp.

This works in reverse as well: If you’ve settled down for a mid-trail rest and you’€™ve got a cool brook nearby, chill your Munk Pack slightly in the water before eating.

2. Add on calories. One of the reasons I enjoy winter camping is because I can toss some grass-fed butter or cheese in my bag-top and it keeps. This comes in handy at bedtime if you want to fat-load before bed to keep away the chill. But really, unless you’€™re making bulletproof coffee on your jetboil you’€™d better get used to chipping off frozen chunks of butter for a midnight snack. I would take my jetboil pot immediately after boiling water, throw in a tablespoon of butter, and then squeeze my whole Munk Pack in there and mix it in. I found that the Apple cinnamon flavor lends itself best to this. Reminds me a lot of apple pie. And, with that one simple trick you’€™ve warmed your oatmeal and double the calories of your pre-sleeping bag meal.

3. Designate a small string for caps. For some reason I found it really easy to fold up and throw out the pouches but my caps always managed to end up all over the place. We’re all doing what we do largely because we love the outdoors the way they are right? So I try to keep them that way. When backpacking I kept a small string tied to the side of my pack I could easily thread the caps onto. By the end of the trip, I had a sweet rhythmic rattle to keep pace to, and I knew none of my caps would end up in lakes, rivers or streams.

Off-Trail

1. If you’re home, fancy it up! There’s something about putting something into a dish that makes it all the better. If you’€™re not in a rush try squeezing a pack into a bowl before you sit down. Better yet, make it part of your breakfast meal if you have time. My favorite? Blueberry Acai on top of grass-fed yogurt with some tasty add-ons.

2. Pre-workout. Enough Said.

3. Share at home. I’ve always found that no one wants to try something new in the middle of a 10 mile grind, and at that point just about anything tastes good right?. Share Munk Packs with your friends at home or right when you hit the trail so they can experience the great taste and the energy boost. Then next time they’ll be on the hook to get a couple packs for you!