By Alyssa Winkle
The first year of college was my first time being on my own and knowing nobody. It was a difficult experience and homesickness was real. I am now on my third semester, have been able to compare this semester to the last two, and realized they have been drastically different. College is hard enough on its own, but there are a few things that help me though. I hope these gear items help you as much as they helped me improve my college experience!
1. Chacos (Complete with cozy socks)
How can I even begin to describe the comfort and joy I find when wearing my Chacos? They are probably the most practical shoes I, as a college student, have ever purchased. Just slip them on to go to class, to the airport, on a hike, to a sporting event (I love them for football or basketball games), or even when the intramural field floods! I seriously love these shoes. I have worn my red-footed, ZX/2 Yampa Fiesta Chacos on so many different occasions and in all sorts of weather (Sockos are the best). So get yourself a pair of v-toe socks and rock them this winter!
Strutting your Chacos opens you up to meeting some neat people! These fellow Chaconians understand your personality and love the same stuff you do. My best friend and I bonded over the fact that we both owned these exploration sandals. How many college kids do you know that own a pair? Probably not very many, so finding a fellow Chaconian can be life changing.
2. ENO Hammock (Complete with Atlas Straps)
Last year I saw so many people on campus with ENOs and all I could think was, “Wow, why have I never thought about this?” In May I got my ENO and I fell in love the moment I hung it between two Aspens in Asheville, NC (How perfect for my first ENO experience, right?). The way the wind blew threw the trees and swung my hammock, gently got me addicted to hanging in that snug little nest.
I believe that if everyone owned an ENO, there would be no more wars. I am convinced that it is impossible to be angry or stressed while hanging in this comfy nest. I have done projects, written papers, completed countless hours of studying, and have never found myself to be stressed. Owning an ENO is cheaper than therapy.
3. Sturdy Water Bottle
I prefer a Nalgene bottle (complete with a humangear capcap) but if you love the straw feature, Camelbak is for you. Own your bottle and cover it with stickers and when it comes to stickers, there are no rules; from your favorite brands to teams to non-profit organizations you support, stickers are a great way to express yourself. So stick on those U of A, ENO, and Chacos stickers and get hydrated!
4. Carabiners Galore
I hadn’t thought of using a carabiner for really anything until I got my ENO. Now I have about four and absolutely love them. They are so handy as a college student. I use mine for keys, my ENO, to hook my Nalgene onto bags, and my Chacos onto my backpack for traveling. Recently brought to my attention (thanks to a good friend), and what I am stoked to share with you ladies and gentlemen who rock the man-buns, is looping those hair bands next to your keys. Seriously, so convenient.
Use them to hook your backpack, water bottle, or anything else you may need to the loops of your Atlas Straps so you don’t have to climb in and out of your hammock to grab your laptop or a drink. This is a neat life hack for a college student unwilling to exit their ENO anytime soon.
5. An Adventure Pal
This might be the most important aspect of the Starter Pack. What fun is experiencing all these great adventures without someone to share the memories with? For me, I met this person while wearing my Chacos. We have spent countless hours ENOing and there has never been a dull moment when we are together. Make sure this person is someone who understands that sometimes an impromptu iPhone photo shoot is necessary, someone who wears Sockos and encourages you to do the same, teaches you the neatest tricks and is always open to learning more, and most importantly treats every moment together like another adventure. So find that person to experience life with and hike Antelope Canyon or just hang in your favorite tree, doing homework to the sound of Taylor Swift.About Alyssa Winkle: Arizona is full of adventure, and my goal is to find the adventure in every corner of my beautiful home state. The life of nursing student does not always allow for daily hiking or fishing, but since the first time I went camping as a kid, exploration has always been on my mind. Besides the outdoors, my passions include youth ministry, photography, listening to good music, and being overly invested in college sports.