Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video

The OE Blog

Goodbye 2014

Here's to trucks, to motorcycles, to sleeping on the roof, to short drives, long drives, and drives around the world. Here's to hiking in on foot, to getting there by plane and boat, to seeing new places, making new friends, hanging out with old friends, and making memories. Here's to all that we've done and will do, to the late nights and early mornings, to the stoke and radness of epic adventures, and to the good times playing in our backyards. Here's to 2014, and as always, here's to adventure.

We'd like to thank you all for an amazing year. It was truly incredible. From the Virgin Islands to Canada and everywhere in between, we had a blast. Thanks for following along and making this the Empire that it is. 

A truly special thanks to our friends Bamboo Studios, Treeline Outdoors, Travel Alberta for your hospitality. It's the moments shared with you guys that make us realize why we do this and why we'll keep doing it. So good.

And now we roll onward to 2015. We've got plans and ideas, new products, new friends to be made and new places to visit. So stoked about what's to come.

Continue reading

Adventure 006 - Travel Alberta, Part 1

Trips like this don't come along often. We've been talking to our friends at Treeline Outdoors via email for a year or so, and Andy Best and Ryan Abernathy only through Instagram. When we reached out to plan a trip to Canada, we couldn't imagine what was to come.

We all dream. And the dream of traveling to Alberta had been festering for quite some time. In the summer of 2014 it was decided that we would make something happen, somehow. We would go to Alberta, even if it meant sleeping in a rental car for just a weekend. We reached out to our friends Chad, Andy, and Ryan to see if anyone was up for a trip to Alberta in September. All three said yes.

Then, a couple weeks later Craig Hensel (@thecraighensel) got in touch about having Overland Empire put together an adventure. An Instagram Influencers kind of trip. Since we already had something in the works, we figured we could try to blow it out a little more. That's when we reached out to Travel Alberta (@travelalberta). Before we go any further, it must be told that we're not afraid to get in touch with people. 99% of the emails we send aren't returned, but the few that are have resulted in some pretty special relationships. Travel Alberta absolutely fell within that 1%. Special people indeed.

After we worked out the details and set the date, we gathered our crew and made the plans. Chad and Erin from Treeline (@treelineoutdoors) were an incredible help, arranging our rental car (a tricked out Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a Treeline rooftop tent), arranging our camp location, cooking food, and so much more. Truly couldn't have done it without those guys, and we'll be forever grateful. 

The week before we left, Canada got hit with a major snowstorm. In early September. It was a whiteout, with inches upon inches of snow. And we were supposed to be sleeping in tents. We got a call from our friend at Travel Alberta, worried about us Florida boys freezing in the Alberta snow. We said that was part of the adventure. We were bound to visit Canada, come hell or high water. Or a few inches of snow. So we moved forward.

We arrived in Calgary on a balmy Thursday afternoon, met up with Craig, then made a stop at the camera store and MEC to gear up. Then it was out for dinner and beers at Craft Beer Market before a night in a hotel prior to setting off for the outdoors. We woke up way before sunrise to make the drive out to Turner Valley to meet up with Chad, Erin, and Andy Best (@andy_best). There's always a bit of nervousness when meeting up with new people for the first time. Especially people you'll be spending a few days with in close quarters. However as soon as we walked in Chad's house we knew this would be awesome. We hit it off right away, and felt like we'd known each other forever. What an amazing feeling and a great start to the weekend. We didn't know it, but that moment set the tone for what was to come the rest of the week.

We loaded up the Jeeps and left Chad and Erin's house still before sunrise, en route to Waterton Lakes National Park. A few miles down the road the sun popped above the horizon and painted the mountains pink, a welcome to Alberta like no other. 

After stopping to marvel at the sunrise, we kept driving. We had a three-hour drive to Waterton to make the 10am ferry to hike the Crypt Lake Trail. On the drive we saw a giant moose jump a fence a few yard from us, a coyote run across the road, and endless miles of fields and mountains. Beautiful countryside. We stopped a few miles outside Waterton to stretch our legs and take a break, and spent the time talking about fishing and whatever else. 

From there we made it into Waterton, changed and packed our hiking bags, then met up with Ryan Abernathy (@cruiserlifestyle) and Jeffrey Spackman (@namkcaps). We boarded the boat that would shuttle us across Waterton Lake to the trailhead, where we would embark on our 10.8 miles hike to Crypt Lake and back. Getting off that boat and stepping into the evergreen forest at the start of the trail is like being transported into another world. Especially if you're from Florida. Or plenty of other places, no doubt. The smell of the evergreens, the different flora and fauna, it's so much to take in at once, and it's almost overwhelming how you can travel to somewhere like this in a day and feel completely new.

We hiked along the trail, shifting places and talking to new people within our group, each getting to know each other along the hike. 5.4 miles one way, the trail takes you from evergreen forests through deciduous trees then out into fairly open land between mountains, with the ground underfoot changing from hardpack dirt to stone to gravely rock. It's rad how much the landscape can change along the hike, giving you new vistas to see along the way. So we hiked, and talked, and made friends.

One of the highlights of the hike is the cave towards the end—it's a tight cave you have to climb a small iron ladder to enter, and then when you exit you're on the side of the cliff with the most amazing mountain views. 

That's all for now. Part 2 to come.

Continue reading

Adventure 003 - Overland Empire x Sanborn Canoe Co.

While we work hard during the week and most weekends, we dream of adventures and quick getaways. So we got away to Orange Island in Florida's Canaveral National Seashore for another canoe adventure while the weather was still cool.

We teamed up with our friends over at Sanborn Canoe Co for some killer paddles to use on our journey, so after paddling in to our camp on Orange Island we spent the weekend fishing, canoeing, cooking great food, and enjoying the outdoors. 

We hit the weather perfect—warm enough to wade in shorts in the middle of the day, cool enough not to sweat through the night. You've gotta love Florida in the early Spring. 

It was an easy paddle on the way out, with calm waters and barely any wind. It doesn't take long when you're out on the water—with dolphins swimming a few feet from the bow of your canoe—to feel far from home. After hitting land we made camp, built a fire, and started preparing food. Then we hit the water to freshen up on our fly casting and explore the area.

After a good amount of paddling and exploring we came back ready for dinner, and prepared an overland feast of maple-glazed pork chops, grilled artichokes, roasted potatoes, and corn on the cob. All grilled over open flame, the way food was meant to be cooked. It's a good feeling having cooked an amazing meal outside, and it's why we put in that extra effort and load the canoes with a little more food.

After dinner it was off to paddle and fish more, of course shooting photos and videos the entire time. Once it got dark we stoked the fire, started fooling around with some time-lapse to catch the full moon move across the sky, then decided to start a batch of chili to enjoy on day two. This wasn't chili from a kit either. Sliced up steak, coffee, cocoa powder, onions, black beans, and a mess of other guessed and hand-measured ingredients made for a chili that surprised all with how good it was. We kept it warm over the fire and broke into it the next morning. Break a fried egg over anything and you can call it breakfast. 

After that it was more shooting, more canoeing, and more eating. We know how to have a good adventure.

Check out more photos on Sanborn's Scout Field Log.

Continue reading

Adventure 001 - Canaveral National Seashore

Our first official adventure took us to Canaveral National Seashore on Florida's east coast. This protected waterway is home to sea turtles, dolphins, redfish, bald eagles, and many other native species. The primitive island campsites provide the perfect setting for adventure. 

We struck out on a Friday afternoon, work and family obligations creating a later start for all of us than originally planned. Once on the road, however, all stress subsided and we were happy to just be guys in a truck. We rambled on like kids about our plans for the weekend—the food we would cook, the photos we wanted to get, and the logistics of loading our excessive amount of gear into canoes. There would be no support boat, no easy way to our remote island campsite. Four guys and a dog, three coolers—one each for food, drinks, and ice—one amazing field kitchen, camera equipment, tents, firewood, clothes, propane, water, and various necessities. These would end up filling three canoes.

As soon as we were on the water we knew exactly why we were embarking on this adventure. Literally leaving land and trouble behind us, we paddled toward freedom, toward excitement, and toward a lot of hard work. We reached land at twenty past seven, not a far cry from nightfall. We set to work immediately building our camp, splitting duties between setting up the kitchen, and cooking, starting a fire, and pitching tents. By the time camp was set and dinner ready, it was dark. Like nine thirty dark. But the results were magical. A steak and salad never tasted so good. In the last hours of Friday we sat around our fire, drink in hand, and talked about our hopes and dreams: for this story, for the future, for adventure.

There were many more great moments that weekend; many more amazing meals cooked over fire and propane, many more ambitious thoughts and propositions, and many more chances for smile and laughter. And although things may not always be perfect or go exactly according to plan, adventure brings forth our knack of improvisation. Whether caused by rain, unseasonable heat, bugs, or some other setback, you learn to just roll with it and go with your instincts. To trust your gut. Because no matter what, the joy is still in the arrant satisfaction of getting away. And at the end of it all one thing was sure: we were four men closer in friendship than before, determined that this would not be the last adventure. 

Continue reading