Tips for Camping in Austin, Texas

186797745-Austin-camping-tentAustin is famous for a lot of things: live music, being weird, home-brewed beer, and most recently the Renegade Craft Fair. But not that many people think of Austin when they think, “Hey, let’s go camping!” And that’s a real shame, y’all. There are dozens of top-tier camping opportunities near the Live Music Capital of the World.

Places to Camp near Austin

While there are plenty of places y’all can camp and enjoy the great outdoors, here are a few perennial favorites.

McKinney Falls State Park offers plenty of camping sites, from ones that are nothin’ but nature to sites with running water and screen doors. The park is also home to ‘Old Baldy’, one of the oldest cypress trees in the State.

Sandy Creek Park on the shores of Lake Travis offers beautiful sites and a serene environment away from most of the boat traffic.

Cedar Breaks Park features campsites with both water and electricity at a very reasonable price, along with beautiful views of Lake Georgetown.

Lockhart State Park has some sites with water, and others that offer picnic tables, water, electricity and restroom facilities — along with the only staff-operated golf course in the Texas state park system.

Wildlife

Camping around Austin is all about proper prior preparation. While you don’t have to worry about bears or cougars in the area, there are plenty of raccoons, armadillos, and other little critters that might disturb you if you’re foolish with your food. Bring along something to tie your food up between a couple of trees with — or at the very least to seal away the smell if you’re planning on keeping it in your tent with you.

The wild areas near Austin have several different versions of ‘thorny weed’ that can get caught in your socks or pant legs. There are also several varieties of venomous snake in the area, so be sure to pack your cowboy boots and keep them on whenever you’re out camping.

Gear: To Buy or Rent?

Camping gear is a major rental market these days, and for good reason: it can get awfully expensive! Plus, if you’re only going to camp every few years, it’s often worth it to spend 1/4 of the money to rent your gear (and not have to find a place to keep it!). If you’re looking for places to rent camping gear in Austin, check out REI or Austin Outdoor Gear and Guidance.

If you’re camping even once a season on average, purchasing is the better choice. If you’re a once-in-a-while camper, consider taking a middle path; purchase the smaller, more home-useful items like a portable gas grill (great for power outages), and a camper’s first aid kit (to be ready in the car trunk for emergencies), and rent the tent, sleeping bags, and mats.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Down here in Austin, we are fortunate to have such stunning landscapes and plenty of places to go and appreciate them. So pack up your family, friends, and gear (or rent it) and go explore the beauty of Central Texas.

Posted on August 1, 2014 by admin in Austin
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4 Reasons to Love Old Gringo Boots

womens-chocolate-linda-l1025-1.1.3011x1772Founded nearly a decade and a half ago by a leather crafter and a designer working together to create boots that were both well-conceived and well-made, the Old Gringo brand combines old-school vintage handcrafting with cutting-edge style. Bridging the gap between ‘western’ and ‘couture’, these high-quality boots represent the perfect crossover of form and function. There are a number of reasons to love Old Gringo boots. Here are 4 of the best:

Constant Innovation

Old Gringo makes great cowboy boots…but that’s only the beginning. Every season, they’ve added new boots to their lineup. Some of them are variations on a theme, but after fourteen years in business, you can find Old Gringo boots that will fit your idiom whether you’re into European Vogue, High Equestrian, Rock Star, or New York Fashion Week.

Personal Styling

The above is not the extent of Old Gringo’s styling; not by a long shot. Their boots can be found in a dozen variations each. If sparkle is your style, pick up a pair of Swarovski crystal ; if you’re an old-fashioned cowpoke, there are classic tanned brown boots, perfect for hiding all the dust kicked up by a day on the trail.

Allens Exclusives

Allens Boots has a wide variety of exclusive boot designs from Old Gringo, including the Ladies of Allens series named after our own fabulous gals in the store! When a bootmaker is willing and able to work with a seller and craft something truly special, you know they love their products — and the people they work with.

Unparalleled Quality

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Make Your Hat Last Longer: Cowboy Hat Care Tips

Adults Stetson Corral Cowboy Hat

Buying a cowboy hat is a long-term investment, so it is important to establish good care practices from the start. Whether it’s straw or felt, the proper care techniques are key to extending the life of your hat, preserving its original quality, and maintaining its shape. Here are the 4 basic things to keep in mind when caring for your cowboy hat.

How to Handle Your Hat

Never put surface pressure on the brim of your cowboy hat; this includes setting the hat brim side down on a flat surface. This will cause the hat to lose shape or collapse. Additionally, avoid handling the brim with your hands. Dirt and oil from your hands will leave stains on the fabric or straw, so try to pick up and put on your hat by the crown.

How to Store Your Cowboy Hat

When your hat is not in use, store it in a hatbox in a cool, dry environment. Hatboxes protect your hat from light, dust, and damage, lengthening its lifespan. If a hatbox is not available, hang it on a hat stand. Extended periods of heat high heat will cause cowboy hats to shrink, so don’t leave it in the car or trunk! Continue Reading >

Posted on July 17, 2014 by admin in cowboy hats
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Top Picks for Kid-Friendly Summer Fun in Austin

Allens_Kids-LibraryNeed places to go with the kiddos this summer? Sure, you can bring them along to plenty of free summer events in Austin, but there’s nothing like a fun event that’s just for kids. Fortunately, Austin is full of summer fun for children. Here are our top choices for an all-ages good time.

Thinkery – The New Austin Children’s Museum: All Summer

The Austin Children’s Museum has come a long way from its first appearance in 1983. From traveling exhibits, to a small location on W. 5th St., to its well-known location on 2nd St., the ACM is now “Thinkery”, a museum focusing on learning in all areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Thinkery hosts special events like Family Game Night; regular workshops like Intro to Soldering, Intro to E-Textiles, and Dry Ice Cream; summer camps with themes like Dino Mania and Time Travelers; birthday parties; and group tours. And that’s all in addition to their regular exhibits! Click the link in the heading to learn more about Thinkery summer events.

Free Youth Events at Austin Public Libraries: All Summer

With more than 20 locations, the Austin public library system is all about catering to the Austin community with free movies, music, storytimes, and even video games (Super Smash Bros Brawl Tournament, anyone?). Check out the events page above to select your preferred library location, event category, and date. Continue Reading >

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Posted on July 15, 2014 by admin in summer
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How the Ten-Gallon Hat Got Its Name

Allens Boots Stetson Cowboy HatThe cowboy hat is one of our best-selling items here at Allens Boots. Natives love ‘em, and visitors want to take ‘em home—after all, they’re a vital part of the classic western outfit. And apart from the word “Stetson”, the most famous phrase associated with cowboy hats is the “ten-gallon hat.”

But why is it called a ten-gallon hat? Most folks don’t know, and the answer may surprise you.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way: a ten-gallon cowboy hat won’t hold ten gallons of anything. (Think about putting 10 one-gallon milk jugs into the crown of a hat. That’s a mighty big head!) So how much can a ten-gallon hat really hold? In fact, even the biggest, most silly-lookin’ cowboy hat can only hold about 4 gallons (and those hats are more like the kind rodeo clowns wear). Your basic cowboy hat can hold about 3 quarts.

The name “ten-gallon hat” itself is actually said to have come from a couple of phrases that got lost in translation and later adopted to describe these big ol’ hats. There are two plausible theories about the phrase. One is that the phrase comes from the Spanish phrase for “very handsome,” which is “tan galán.” (And everyone knows that any cowboy looks “tan galán” in a cowboy hat.) The other theory is that the “gallon” part comes from the Spanish word “galón,” which means “braid” or “stripe.” When vaqueros were working with American cowboys, the cowboys may have heard the Spaniards describe their hat bands (which were braided or resembled stripes). A ten-galón hat, then, was a fancy cowboy hat that sported ten bands or braids.

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Posted on July 10, 2014 by admin in cowboy hats
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The History of Tony Lama Boots

Mens Tony Lama Dawson Boots Testa #6067We’re big fans of the Tony Lama brand here at Allens Boots. Not only is it one of our most popular boot brands, it’s a classic brand that has withstood the test of time. With roots in El Paso, Texas, The Tony Lama Company has been making quality boots for more than 100 years. Its popularity has spread from west Texas across the world, becoming popular with workin’ folks and famous folks alike.

The Tony Lama Company got its start back in the early 1900s. Tony Lama, Sr. had joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. It was there that he worked as a cobbler and began hand-crafting boots for soldiers. Word of his well-made boots traveled, and soon he was making boots for cowboys and ranchers. In 1912 he opened his own shoe repair shop, continuing work for the army as well as making his own western-style boots to sell. By 1933, his shop began turning out 40 pairs of boots per day, and in 1946 the business became a corporation. Success for The Tony Lama Company was so good that Lama gave President Truman the gift of a custom-made pair of boots in 1948. Ever since, The Tony Lama Company has offered a pair of custom cowboy boots to every U.S. president.

But The Tony Lama Company wasn’t just famous for quality boots—it changed and improved the way boots were made. Lower heels and rounded toes made the uses of its western boots more diverse, so wearers could walk and ride more comfortably. It also began adding colorful embellishments like decorative stitching and inlays, as well as using exotic leathers like snakeskin, eelskin, ostrich leather, and alligator hide. These high-end exotic boots soon became their most popular styles, and by 1976 the company had also expanded its products to include items like belts, wallets, and buckles.

The Tony Lama Company has remained in the management of Lama family over the years, passing from Tony Lama, Sr. to Tony Lama, Jr., as well as Bert Lama and Louis R. Lama. In 1990 the company made a big change and merged with Justin Industries, makers of Justin boots.

Today Tony Lama continues to operate under independent management, turning out beautiful boots made from high-quality leathers.

Posted on July 8, 2014 by admin in Tony Lama
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Top Picks for Free Summer Fun in Austin, Texas

Allens_FireworksIt’s finally gettin’ hot in the weirdest city in Texas, y’all. As a city with activities as varied and unusual as its inhabitants, you can be sure there’s a long list of things to do this summer. However, there’s no reason that summer fun in Austin should cost an arm and a leg. Here are some of our top suggestions for free fun activities in Austin for summer 2014.

38th Annual Austin Symphony Fourth of July Fireworks: Jul 4, Circuit of the Americas

This year the 38th Annual Austin Symphony H-E-B July 4th Concert & Fireworks has moved! Normally held at Auditorium Shores, this long-running even will be at the Circuit of the Americas while Auditorium Shores is undergoing renovation. The fun starts at 4 PM, the Austin Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8:30 PM, and the fireworks commence at 9 PM. Head down early to get a good seat for these Austin Fourth of July fireworks!

Blues on the Green: Jun 4 – Aug 6, Zilker Park

As the largest free concert series in Austin, Blues on the Green is a combination of live music and local talent hosted by Austin radio station KGSR. Every Wednesday at 8 PM, listeners flock to Zilker Park at 8 PM to enjoy some jams, food, and good company. Continue Reading >

Posted on July 3, 2014 by admin in Austin
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5 Things Real Cowboys Never Do

Allens_CowboyHere at Allens Boots in Austin, we’ve seen our fair share of cowboys in the store. Of course, not all the folks who stop in our store are ranch hands themselves, but plenty want to know how to act like one. We’re here to help with a list of 5 things you’ll never catch a real cowboy doing.

1. Real cowboys never ride in ropers.

Ropers” are cowboy boots designed for calf roping. Their low heel allows the rider to easily slip out of the stirrup once the calf is lassoed. Admittedly, ropers are real comfy for everyday wear, and plenty of cowboys wear ‘em when not on horseback, but you should steer clear of wearing ropers on a trail ride. This is because a normal cowboy boot heel is elevated so that your foot can’t slip through the stirrup.

2. Real cowboys never wear their spurs indoors.

You maybe have seen cowboys in Western movies wear their spurs in all manner of situations, but the truth is, wearing spurs anywhere but on a horse makes you look pretty silly. Plus, your missus won’t appreciate spurs scratchin’ up her hardwood floor, and real cowboys will hear you jinglin’ from a mile away. Continue Reading >

Posted on June 26, 2014 by admin in Cowboy Life
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A Guide to Cowboy Hat Etiquette

While the cowboy hat is one of the most beloved items of western wear, there’s more to buyin’ one than just ploppin’ it on your head. No sir, a cowboy hat is an extension of the cowboy himself, so wearing it well is real important. Now that y’all know how to pick out the right cowboy hat, we thought we’d give you the rundown about how to wear it. Here’s the cowboy’s guide to proper hat etiquette.

 

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Wear the right cowboy hat for the right season.

Not only is it impractical to wear a felt hat in the middle of summer, it’ll make you look kinda silly, too. Felt hats will leave your head all hot and bothered, and spotting a felt hat in July is an easy way to separate the tourists from the true cowboys. Stick to straw hats once the weather heats up, and felt hats when it cools off.

Buy the right cowboy hat size.

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Posted on June 19, 2014 by admin in cowboy hats
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Felt or Straw: Choosing the Right Cowboy Hat Material

No matter where you go in the world, cowboy hats have worldwide recognition and Austin, Texas is no stranger to cowboy hats. Whether it is at a good ol’ fashioned rodeo, country concert, or a simple backyard BBQ, every cowboy and cowgirl needs a hat to complete his or her own authentic style. But the ultimate question remains: should you go with a felt or straw hat? Allens Boots has some helpful tips for you.

Adults Stetson Lariat Hats Black #0375lratFelt Hats

Durable, good-looking, and won’t blow off your head, felt hats are a great fit for any occasion. Felt hats, being a very popular style of cowboy hat, come in a variety of colors and with an even larger variety of accessories. The wool or fur felt fibers are interlocked and pressed at a high temperature and woven together tightly, making a strong and water-resistant hat. The fibers in the hat are actually tight enough to hold water without it falling apart. You can also accessorize your hat with silver medallions or just a simple buckle that wraps around the brim. If you’re looking for a dress or casual event, you can’t go wrong with a felt cowboy hat.

Straw Hats

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Posted on June 17, 2014 by admin in cowboy hats
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