Monday, March 28, 2016

The Journey Begins...

Photo Courtesy of Dylan Coulter.
It’s been an amazing year in the McCardell household. Many “firsts” have occurred for both Ryley and me this past year but it all leads back to one day; February 23, 2015. How can I pinpoint the specific date which I claim to have led to such an amazing year? It’s simple. That was the day I read this article posted to Field & Stream’s website. After reading it, I literally sent an email within minutes chock full of pictures of Ryley fishing, hunting and scouting; but mainly fishing. That blog post and subsequent emails set into motion an unbelievable journey for Ryley this past year, a journey which I have been lucky enough to enjoy as well.

Ryley in his Simms waders, Columbia shirt and Fishpond vest.

A little over a month after that email was sent Ryley was in front of a camera in Simms waders, holding a fishing rod, smiling his heart out for world renowned photographer Dylan Coulter. He had been chosen as the Angler for a feature article in Field & Streams June print issue titled How to Raise a Wild Child. Even though his personal shoot only lasted about an hour we had to stick around for the group shots the rest of the day. During that entire time Ryley wore the Simms waders around the loft, hanging out with all the other kids, playing pinball and old school arcade games. Not once did he complain, he just soaked it all up and wanted more.

During the downtime Ryley also chatted up some of the parents as we stood around and told fishing and hunting stories. Unbeknownst to us one of the parents was outdoor writer and TV personality CJ Winand from Bowhunter Magazine and Bowhunter TV. CJ and Ryley hit it off from the start and joked around with each other the entire day. As we left that evening CJ extended an offer to Ryley that would lead to another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The wheels of fate started turning and little did we know what kind of ride it was going to be from then on out.

In the coming weeks I will chronicle that offer and the other adventures which have happened to Ryley this past year. But, the journey isn’t over quite yet. We are going to try and make this ride last just a little bit longer. There is no telling where we will end up, but the ride can’t be beat. Come along for the ride and enjoy the view. Until then keep taking your kids outdoors…

Special Delivery

My first #ExpertGear package!
I waited for what seemed ages. I couldn’t help but get exited each time I heard my mailbox lid close. It was like being a kid at Christmas time; that jubilant expectation. I had received an email several weeks earlier indicating that I had made the cut with Experticity’s new #ExpertGear program. Questions filled my head. What would they be sending me to review? Would it be something I could even test? How much feedback would they want? What would happen if I gave it a bad review?

All of those questions evaporated the day my first box arrived. I quickly ran into the kitchen to find a pair of scissors to open the box. I hesitated, thinking how cool would it be to video my unboxing. I’ve seen countless YouTube unboxing videos and wondered if I could make mine successful as well. All thoughts of doing a video went out the window when I realized my GoPro batteries were dead. I couldn’t wait any longer. I just had to see what was in the box.

Behold: The UP2!
My first impression was to say an explicative followed closely by a huge smile. I had been sent a Jawbone UP2 fitness tracker as my first #ExpertGear assignment. The tracker which I received was their Gunmetal Hex color with the Lightweight thin straps. At this point in my review I must confess that I already own a Jawbone UP as well as a Fitbit. So my review is going to be based off of my experiences with those two fitness trackers and how the UP2 compares. 

Great package presentation by Experticity
Over the next several weeks I will be wearing the UP2 fitness tracker as I go about my daily routine. I will also make it a point to go out and "put it through it's paces" so to speak. Check back for periodic updates and the ultimate gear review. Until then keep taking your kids outdoors…

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


The front of my first #ExpertGear box.
Volunteering your time for a good cause can be immensely satisfying in its own right. There can be fringe benefits like seeing and experiencing places you’ve never been before. In certain situations though, volunteering can actually get you some cool swag!

Through a variety of my volunteering efforts I have become a member of an online team of gear testers for a company called Experticity. Experticity is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah and is an outdoors marketing company that connects companies with experts to help boosts sales and provide a grassroots marketing campaign.
The inside of my #ExpertGear box. What is it this month?
As an #ExpertGear tester I will be sent gear once a month to use, abuse and ultimately review. I have no idea what gear I am getting until I open the box. Sometimes I will need to test the product alone, other times I hope to be able to incorporate Ryley and the rest of my family during my testing. But rest assured I will pull no punches on my product reviews. I will post pictures on my social media accounts detailing my testing efforts and ultimately post my reviews here in Ryley Outdoors. So check back often and find out what new gear I am testing and how I think it fares when put to the test! Until then keep taking your kids outdoors…

Monday, March 21, 2016


Ryley fishing at Camp Independence, Heritgae Scout Reservation July 2015
As those famous Staind lyrics go, “It’s Been Awhile”... Almost four years to be exact. During my hiatus I have managed to keep myself busy. My kids have grown up. I’ve become a little bit older and a lot wiser. But many things have stayed the same. I still love to hunt, fish, hike, camp and enjoy the outdoors. So I have decided yet again to make another go of this thing called social media blogging. To coincide with this newfound endeavor I have decided to change some things on the blog to better reflect who I am now and what has happened to me since last I posted.

First and foremost I have changed the name to Ryley Outdoors. This reflects where I currently am in life. My three older boys are now in their late teens finishing up high school and starting college. So from here on out it’s just me and my 9 yr old son, Ryley. My focus has been to concentrate on getting him in the outdoors, to experience what nature has to offer instead of stuck inside playing video games like his peers. I have been pretty successful with this over the last year and in the coming weeks I will share some of those awesome experiences with you.

I am currently in the midst of redesigning the blog. My hopes are to make it more mobile friendly and to personalize this space. I will also try and steer away, as I move forward, from stock images and hope to populate the background of the blog with a worthy photo all my own. If things prove successful I will transition this space over to a more permanent website. Keep your fingers crossed!

As in the past I will be concentrating my efforts on outdoor activities which I know and love. You will see lots more fishing, hunting and scouting adventures featuring Ryley (and sometimes me). A new twist will be that I will be occasionally posting gear reviews for products I receive from Experticity as part of their #ExpertGear program. 

I look forward to what 2016 will bring in terms of adventure and opportunities. Until then keep taking your kids outdoors…