Local Gifts for Rochester Outdoor Lovers

If there was ever a year to support small businesses and shop locally, this is the year. Maybe you have some outdoor enthusiasts on your list, or you’re maybe you’re looking to treat yourself — either way, this list should provide some inspiration and great Rochester-made gift options for people at all levels of outdoor experience.

Perfect Granola

Image from Perfect Granola Facebook Page

Founded in 2016, this local business creates a wide variety of delicious granola and granola bars, including coconut cranberry, maple pecan, and cherry vanilla walnut. And it’s impossible not to feel good supporting them when 5% of all profits are donated to Rochester area outreach centers, food banks, and organizations supporting people experiencing homelessness 

Our recommendation: Grab (or gift) a 5 pack of the granola bars.  They make a great snack on any hike or adventure. And could be the perfect stocking stuffer too. 

Smoke Shack Snacks

Image from Smoke Shack Jerky Facebook page

Located on Exchange St in Rochester, Smoke Shack offers an array of interesting, non-traditional, highly-portable snack options including wood-smoked meats and jerkies, smoked nuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds.  The founder launched the brand as a better, healthier, all-natural alternative to traditional store-bought jerky, with no nitrates. The flavor profiles they create are inspired by Asian, African, Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern foods and spices and there are tons of gluten-free options available.

Our recommendation: Fumanchew Snack Sticks and SmokeStachios are easy to pack and incredibly tasty on the trail. 

Fuego Coffee Roasters

Image from Fuego Coffee Roasters Facebook page

Few things pair better with the great outdoors than a great cup of coffee and Fuego offers one of the best. Even better, they take pride in how they approach every step of the coffee process–working closely with farmers all over the world, selecting the best beans, expertly roasting and profiling, and using the right hand-brewing techniques to produce a truly phenomenal cup. They focus on regions including Costa Rica, Brazil, and Kenya and even operate a cafe in Guatemala where 100% of profit earned is rolled right into not-for-profit programs run by Story International.

Our recommendation: You can’t go wrong with the holiday bundle which includes a ceramic campfire mug that’d be great for use around an actual campfire – along with a 12 oz bag of freshly-roasted coffee beans.  Oh, and make sure you grab yourself a coffee or espresso drink to go when you stop in. 

Keith Walters Photography

Image from Keith Walters Photography Facebook page

Letchworth at night, waterfalls, and trees are just a few of the breathtaking subjects Keith Walters Photography so expertly captures. Based out of Geneseo, Keith has his own style that incorporates two of his favorite types of photography – landscape and photojournalism… and we can’t get enough. You can browse in his online shop or if you’d rather experience the art IRL, he co-owns and operates The Gallery in the Valley, right on Main Street in Geneseo where you can pick up prints, greeting cards, wall art, keepsakes and more from Keith — and their amazing visiting artists, which change each month

Our recommendation: Grab (or gift) Keith’s 2022 wall calendar for monthly nature photographs that are sure to inspire your/their next adventure.

Cummings Nature Preserve (part of the Rochester Museum and Science Center)

Walk among the trees and explore this vast 900-acre preserve featuring more than 15 miles of trails, all tucked between Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes — just an hour South of Rochester. You can explore (and learn about) our unique Finger Lakes landscape and culture all year long in diverse habitats including an active beaver pond, an iconic 90-year old red pine stand, and rare hemlock bogs. In winter there’s cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and rentals are available.

Our recommendation: Pick up a Pines Pass membership (for your own family or someone elses’) and feel good about it, knowing it supports the nature center’s awesome environmental education programming.

It’s a steal at just $65, considering it gets you free admission for your whole family for a year, 4 guest passes, 20% off ski and snowshoe rentals, quarterly members-only hikes led by the nature center’s director, and more. 

BayCreek Paddling Center

From BayCreek Paddling Center Facebook page

Located on Irondequoit Bay, BayCreek Paddling Center offers a wide variety of water-based equipment and activities.  Kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes abound the property.  Governed by the mantra “Have Fun. Help Others Have Fun. Spread The Joy!”, BayCreek has become a one stop paddling shop.

Our recommendation: Gift a certificate for the “Secret Wilderness” Guided Nature Tour. Float through time and history, as you’re led through this fascinating area, covering territory in the Irondequoit Creek wetlands, Ellison Park, and the southern tip of the Bay.

Rochester Brainery

Image from Rochester Brainery Facebook page

Founded in 2013, Rochester Brainery is a community classroom and event space located in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts.  Local teachers, artisans, and hobbyists share their expertise in a variety of subjects from arts and crafts to food and tours.  

Our recommendation: Give a gift card and register for The Ten Essentials For Hiking & Camping class on January 25, together (disclaimer: this class is offered by Survival of the Fitness so we may be a tad bit biased)

Reconnect Rochester

From Reconnect Rochester Facebook page

Reconnect Rochester is a fantastic local non-profit organization working to build a more sustainable transportation network for the greater Rochester community. It’s made up of ordinary citizens (many of them avid cyclists) who believe that together, we can make it easy for everyone — regardless of physical or economic ability — to get around. Their Complete Streets Makeover (CSM) program creates safer streets that can be better shared by pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and motorists and they help to produce Rochester Street Films, a film series that aims to facilitate community conversation about important topics such as Rochester’s transportation systems, cycling infrastructure, pedestrian life, equity issues, urban sprawl, and more.

Our recommendation: Grab and gift the Bike ROC tee, the I Bike Rochester shirt, or any of the other great items in their online shop

In the spirit of being good to each other and the planet, we hope that even if you didn’t find the perfect present on this list, you’ll consider how and what you give this holiday season. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in a store, try passing on a piece of your favorite gear, sharing knowledge, making a donation to a good cause, or simply getting outside with a friend or loved one to share in the joy of exploring somewhere new.

Happy Holidays!  

Why Survival of the Fitness?

Being outdoors brings out the best in me — and it always has. From the time I was very young, it’s been the same: if it’s outside, you can count me in and count on me being interested and invested.

When I was a kid, it was climbing trees, exploring, and starting my own “state park” on my parents’ property. In college, my interests gravitated toward mountaineering, hiking, kayaking, and cycling.  As my outdoor pursuits expanded and evolved, so did my education and experience in adventure sports.  

Continue reading “Why Survival of the Fitness?”

Couch to Summit: Start Here

You’re here.  The mountain is there.  Let’s start your journey toward the summit TODAY with Couch to Summit!

Don’t get me wrong, TV is awesome, recliners are heavenly and Netflix is producing some great binge-worthy entertainment (Ozarks, am I right?!?) but climbing a mountain will change your life.

Hiking and mountain climbing has many benefits to both your physical and mental health and well-being.

According to WebMD, hiking can:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise
  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve balance
  • Help control your weight
  • Boost your mood. “Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. “Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.”

Couch to Summit intends to do literally what it says, transform almost anyone with no outdoor skill and minimal physical training into someone capable of summiting a mountain.

From my experience, I’ve found that people avoid outdoor adventures, specifically mountaineering, for 4 reasons:

  • Cost
  • Know-how
  • Time Commitment
  • Decision Paralysis

Each of these perceived obstacles will be addressed in detail in future posts, but let’s take care of decision paralysis right now.  Commit to climbing a mountain TODAY. Say it, believe it, post on social media and tell your friends.  Get excited!

Gather the Training Supplies

Start by gathering the following supplies from around your house.  Don’t have one of these items?  Borrow from a friend.  Still no luck?  Don’t sweat it, they aren’t required.

NOTE:  We will go through each of these items in detail throughout this course.

  • Basic backpack
    A standard school backpack, hiking backpack, etc
  • Comfortable Footwear
    Sneakers, tennis shoes, hiking shoes/boots.
  • Socks
    Wool socks are best, but any comfortable, cushioned calf height or higher will suffice for training.
  • Water Bottle
    Any 16oz or more reusable, resealable bottle will do.
  • Comfortable/Weather-Appropriate Clothing 
    Depending on your location, comfortable workout shirt and shorts/pants
  • Training Weight
    This can be anything that adds weight to your pack for training.  As training progresses, weight with be increased to continually challenge you and  Good options are sand bags, dried rice, beans, canned goods, dumbbell weights, etc.

Got the supplies?  Let’s go!

Make a Basic First Aid Kit

Carrying a basic first aid kit when engaging in outdoor adventures is important.  Learning how to effectively use each item in your first aid kit is key.

Uses for Basic First Aid Kit: Hiking, Biking, Paddling, Camping, Car Travel and College Students.

2×2 Gauze Pads & 4×4 Gauze Pads: Sterile gauze pads are a must-have for every first-aid kit due to their incredible absorption capabilities, plus they are chemical free. Generally used for minor scrapes, cuts and burns, sterile gauze pads are good for allowing just enough room for the wound to breathe without leaving too much space for air exposure – which can prompt wound infection.

Assorted Bandaids: Adhesive bandages are probably the most used component of most first aid kit. Use these small bandages to cover small lacerations and abrasions.  Be sure to change adhesive bandages at least once a day, and always clean the wound before you apply an adhesive bandage.

Triple Antibiotic Cream: Whether it’s a gash caused by shattered glass or a simple paper cut, antibiotic ointment is an ideal addition to your first aid kit. Air exposure is always an issue for fresh scrapes, and applying a thin layer of antibiotic ointment in addition to covering with a dressing will vastly reduce the chances of wound infection occurring.

Rubber Gloves: Exam gloves provide clean fingers for the victim’s benefit and provide a barrier for the rescuer’s benefit.

Tampon: Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity (T.A.M.P.O.N.).  An sterile, ultra-absorbent item that can be used as an improvised wound dressing or to stop a nose bleed.

Self-Adhesive Bandage Roll: Sometimes simply covering a wound with a bandage just won’t do the trick. Adhesive tape is important because it can help wound dressings remain securely fit surrounding the injury. Adhesive tape is also essential for helping apply the necessary pressure a covering needs to collect excess fluid from the wound.

Alcohol Swabs:  Used to clean the infected or wounded area before antibiotic ointment or bandages are placed on the area. Alcohol swabs may also be used in conjunction with anesthetic swabs and can be used to sterilize tweezers if needed.

Adhesive Remover Pads:  Used to clean and remove the sticky residue left from a bandaid or adhesive bandage.


Sawyer Mini

Remember when the iPhone was first released?  Almost immediately your Blackberry or flip phone became painfully obsolete.  The award winning Sawyer Mini Water Filter is like an iPhone and your current water filter is like that flip phone your grampa uses.


At $21.17 at Amazon, the Sawyer Mini Water Filter is one of the most inexpensive filtering options.  In addition, with proper maintenance, the filter is rated up to 100,000 gallons or $.0002 per gallon!


Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.


The Sawyer Mini weighs in at 2oz and fits in the palm of your hand.  There is no reason to not throw this in your pack.


The Sawyer Mini Water Filter can be used to filter water in 4 different ways.

  1. Filtered into your water bottle
  2. Drink out of a container using the included straw
  3. Screw the filter onto a water or soda bottle with a standard screw top
  4. Attach inline to a hydration pack


To prolong the life and effectiveness of the Sawyer Mini Water Filter, it is recommended to backwash the filter after each outing.  Backwashing is simply the forcing of clean water the opposite direction through the filter.  A water syringe is included and should backwashing should be repeated until the water coming through the filter in reverse is clean and clear.

Sawyer recommends cleaning and backfilling the filter with a solution of 1 liter clean water and 1 cap full of bleach before storage.


  • Sawyer Mini water filter with tip cap
  • 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch
  • 7-inch drinking straw
  • Cleaning plunger (syringe)


Sawyer Products Squeezable Pouch for Sawyer Point One and Mini Squeeze Water Filters – 3 Additional 16oz squeezable water pouches

Evernew Water Carry Hydration Pack 2 Liter – A larger squeezable pouch that fits perfectly into the Sawyer Mini threads.


Sawyer Mini has a big brother called the Sawyer Squeeze.

Park Profile: Black Creek Park

3835 Union Street, North Chili, New York 14514.
Park Map | Trail Map

A 1,505 Acre Park Featuring:

  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Cross-Country Skiing (non-groomed)
  • Fishing
  • Geo-caching (approximately 24 caches)
  • Hiking/Running Trails
  • Horseback Riding
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Lodges/Shelter for Rent
  • Playground
  • Sledding
  • Soccer
  • Access to creek and pond
  • Bathrooms available for general use


The Ridge Trail is a 1.4 (one-way) mile walk over gently rolling terrain filled with honeysuckle, autumn olive, and many other beautiful shrubs. While on the trail look for the trees from Green’s Nursery, which was in existence 100 years ago.

The Creek Trail is a 3.1 (one-way) mile walk that passes alongside a beautiful little pond, which is the seasonal home to many geese and ducks. This trail also takes you through fields of honeysuckle, dogwood and many other types of greenery.

The Hickory Trail is a 1.4 mile walk over flat terrain which is full of multi-flora rose and dogwood shrubs. Many different birds can be seen in this area. The trail ends in Maple and Hickory woods which has an impressive collection of shagbark hickory trees.

The Bluebird Trail is a 1.2 mile walk that winds among honeysuckle, hawthorn and dogwood shrubs. This walk is good for bird watchers all year round.

The Wetland Trail is a 2.1 (one-way) mile walk that is dotted with wild flowers that attract butterflies. This trail also has many unique plants and trees that change with the seasons.

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to Survival of the Fitness. I’m glad you’re here!  I’m glad i’m here! Survival of the Fitness is something I have been dreaming about for almost 10 years.

  • I am here to inspire people to live healthier, more adventurous lives.
  • I am here to give you the tools to take your first adventure or your 500th.
  • I am here to show you how to stay adventurous, healthy and fit, even with all of the distractions of “real” life.
  • I am here to listen to you and help you reach your goals.

I will elaborate on my vision for Survival of the Fitness in future posts, but just wanted to say hi for now!