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  • Practical Wedding Gift Ideas For Adventurous Couples

    I never thought I’d be writing a blog post for outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors! I surf as often as possible, I hike and run, and living in Southern California I make it a point to stop and smell the rosemary everyday; it’s everywhere, so that's what I call going for a walk: “going to smell the rosemary.” I love the outdoors ... but I also like to shower and sleep in my own bed and flush the not-so-public toilet. So when it comes to camping, I’m more of a glamper, if I’m being honest.

    But, as life would have it, I fell in love with an Alaskan mountain man who’s love language is camping. I’ve had to learn to step out of my comfort zone and experience the simplicity of nature, not just the convenience of it.

    On the left half of the image is a smiling woman holding a surfboard with the ocean behind her, and on the right half is a bearded mountain man standing on a snowy hillside.

    In April of this year, Josh said he wanted to take me to Iceland where we would be caravanning with friends around the country in camper vans. Well, they’d be in camper vans, we’d be in a car with a tent on the top. Oh, and we’d also be eating freeze-dried food for the entirety of our time there. He had already ordered a container of it.

    A person leans against the front of a car that has a pop up tent on top, clouds and a lake are in the distance.

    I wanted to be a trooper, but I was also skeptical of sleeping in a tent in Iceland, which doesn’t exactly sound warm, and traveling around the world just to eat freeze-dried food from a bag. Upon arriving in Iceland we stopped at KFC, our first and last “Icelandic” meal before venturing off into God-knows-where. After shelling out $40 for two people to eat at KFC I got on board with the freeze-dried food idea. And truth be told, after our first Mountain House meal I was hooked.

    JJ and Josh smile as they eat Mountain House breakfasts from their pouches while sitting outside.

    Ok, so he was right about the food, but I still wasn’t looking forward to the cold night’s sleep in the tent on top of the car. In fact I was ready to win an argument. I was ready to wake up the next morning and say “See, I told you we’d be freezing,” but alas, I woke up quiet and smirking as I knew I had to say once more “You were right.” Not only was I extremely warm from the canvas tent and 15 degree sleeping bag, I was incredibly comfortable!

    Once I got out of my own way, trusted the process and allowed the adventure to be different than my usual comforts, I realized I was on the trip of a lifetime.

    A week into our trip, Josh said we needed to get product shots for the companies sponsoring the trip and he spent so much time trying to find “just the right spot.” I had no idea was really about to happen, I wandered off to find a place to go to the bathroom, meanwhile he was getting ready to ask me to marry him. Whoops. Timing is everything.

    A woman runs across an open field holding a trailing roll of toilet paper.
    Photo credit Montana Dennis

    He walked me down into a field, ocean on one side, mountains on the other- (the perfect depiction of both of us: I grew up on the ocean, he in the mountains), got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

    We were both crying and I said “YES! OF COURSE! I’m so glad I went to the bathroom first!” In that order. We laughed and kissed and vowed to love each other as we are, while allowing the other to grow and change.

    A newly engaged couple kisses in a yellow field with a snow dusted mountain behind them.
    Photo credit Montana Dennis

    In Josh I have found a new affection for the outdoors, an enjoyment for the smell of earth and the sight of it on my feet and under my fingernails. We eloped a month later in the hills of Santa Barbara, CA. We both cleaned up pretty good.

    A groom carries a bride through a tall field of yellow grass.
    photo credit Jena Willard Photography

    For our one month anniversary I set up a tent in the backyard, started up the Jetboil and served Mountain House in honor of our adventure's beginning.

    A smiling woman sits on a colorful blanket in front of a tent on a lawn, with a picnic spread.

    Given that we have many adventures ahead, we came up with a list of our favorite (and most-used) gift ideas that would be awesome for any outdoor enthusiasts, no matter how hardcore or glamper-friendly. Check out some of the stuff we’ve found useful, and some of the stuff we still hope to get for our registry … wait, do you still get a registry if you elope!?

    A woman sits on the back of an open tailgate with a Jetboil and two Nalgene bottles.

    JJ and Josh's Registry Wishlist

    • Hydaway - A collapsible water bottle, so great for when space is an issue in your car or pack (or on the plane!).
    • North Face Dolomite One Duo Sleeping Bag: Warm, warm warm, and options, options, options! We love this 3-in-1 sleeping bag that's made for two people.
    • Men's Slippers - After hiking all day, Josh says he just wants to take off his shoes, be comfy, and still move around the campsite. Makes sense!
    • Women's Slippers - Of course, me the glamper, sign me up with the slippers. For sure.
    • REI Half Dome 2+ - A good tent is so important! I'm a sucker for a nice aesthetic (and a little extra wiggle room), while Josh loves the convenience and durability of this one.
    • Headlamp - Critical for navigating the campsite at night. Especially on the way to the bathroom ...
    • Jetboil Flash - We use this for everything! Coffee is a MUST, and pretty much every adventure meal we reach for is just add hot water (more Mountain House please!).
    • Flikr Fireplace - Ok, so this may be more for the glampers, but we love this mini "fireplace". It burns rubbing alcohol, so it's safe to use indoors or out. We've even roasted marshmallows over it indoors, when "the great outdoors" wasn't feeling so great.
    • Spork - It's a spoon, it's a fork, it's the best! We each have our own and use them on every camping trip.
    • Nalgene bottles - Water, water, water, can't live without it! We carry these on every trip, refilling as we go. (P.S. a new Nalgene bottle with an REI gift card and hiking treats makes a great gift ... just sayin'.)
    • A Bucket O' Mountain House - Gift someone a box or bucket of Mountain House, and they'll be happy campers.
    • Games - These are our favorites. They're fun and easy to travel with, but newlyweds beware! They can get competitive!

    I'm sure there are loads of other items I could add to this list! But the real adventure is in figuring it all out as we go, learning together, making do with what we have when we have to, and always keeping a roll of toilet paper in our backpacks no matter where adventure takes us. Just in case.

    Editor's Note - We met JJ and Josh because of this video that they shared on Instagram. And we're so glad we did. A huge thank you to JJ for taking the time to share their story with us!

    A smiling couple wearing beanies walks toward the camera with mountains and a lake behind them.
    Photo credit Montana Dennis

    About JJ and Josh:

    Josh Newton is a wedding and lifestyle photographer who loves to visually tell a story. He loves the great outdoors, Star Wars, and canned peaches (he doesn’t want anyone to know the third one). JJ Barrows Newton is a videographer and artist, as well as an aspiring comedian (marriage has given her plenty of new material). They married in June 2019 and reside in Santa Barbara, CA. They plan to return to Iceland in 2020 with another suitcase full of Mountain House!

    Josh Newton: @joshnewton www.joshnewton.com

    JJ Newton: @jjbarrows @jjbarrowsart www.jjbarrows.com

    Inspired for an Adventure? Check out Beef Stroganoff - Pouch and Beef Stew - Pouch