A must-have for any winter excursion, from an icy wilderness hike to a road trip through snowy mountains, is a lightweight and fail-safe emergency blanket. If an unexpected emergency strands you outdoors, such a blanket can help protect you from the kind of cold, wet and windy conditions that might result in hypothermia.
Survive Outdoors Longer, a survival products company that specializes in emergency outdoor shelters and blankets, produces the highly rated SOL Survival Blanket. Unlike the traditional “space blanket” made from fragile Mylar, the Survival Blanket is constructed from vacuum-metalized polyethylene. It reflects 90 percent of your body heat to keep you warm, won’t shred if nicked or punctured (unlike Mylar blankets), is both water- and windproof, and comes in a blazing orange color that makes you easy for rescuers to find.
Important survival tips — how to construct a shelter, for example — are printed right on the blanket where you can see them.
The Survival Blanket resists tearing by stretching; if small holes and tears develop, they can be easily repaired with duct tape. If not used for emergencies, the Survival Blanket is handy as a ground cloth, gear cover or first aid blanket. At 60 by 96 inches, it weighs a mere 3.2 ounces. It costs $7.
In Sonoma County, SOL’s products are carried in Petaluma by Clavey River Equipment and Dick’s Sporting Goods; in Santa Rosa by REI, West Marine and Sonoma Outfitters; and in Cotati by Outdoor Pro Shop.
Visit surviveoutdoorslonger.com for more information.
Three Urban Cycling Rides To Try
Astro Motel day manager Sam Hamby has a few recommendations for rides to get from city to country and back again.
1. Joe Rodota trail to Forestville: About 16 miles from downtown Santa Rosa to Sebastopol and back.
This is about 30 miles round trip from downtown Santa Rosa to Forestville and back. One block from the Astro you can jump on the famous Joe Rodota multiuse trail to gain access to Sebastopol, Forestville, Graton and more of Sonoma’s west county beauty without ever encountering vehicle. The amount of quality scenery, specialty shops and restaurants along this route are absolutely stunning. It’s also mostly flat.
2. Downtown Santa Rosa to Occidental: About a 35-mile round trip from downtown Santa Rosa.
This route also takes you on a west county meander via Occidental Road to Occidental to enjoy Howards Station (one of my favorite breakfast spots) and back through Freestone to stop at WildFlour Bakery (another favorite) before heading back through the rolling hills of west county. The roads taken to get to Occidental really embody the beauty of Sonoma County.
3. Cavedale-Trinity Loop: About a 17-mile round trip if you start from Sonoma. About 40 miles round trip if you start from downtown Santa Rosa.
This ride will test your climbing legs as you head out Highway 12 toward Sonoma and loop around on Lawndale and back to Highway 12. From here, you will head up Cavedale Road. A roughly 5.5-mile-climb toward Mt. Veeder offering breathtaking views of Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon. Following Cavedale will connect you to Trinity Road for a fun, sweeping downhill ride back toward Highway 12 and back to Santa Rosa.