Friday, May 25, 2012

Aventura Eco Friendly Swimwear

Need a cute new bathing suit or cover-up for the Summer?  Check out Aventura's new line of Recycled Poly Swimwear and Cover-ups.  I have recently discovered this brand and can't get enough, their stuff is so cute, comfortable and functional.  
Look at the outfit pictured above, isn't that wonderful for a trip to the Famers' Market for snacks, then off to the beach?  It's the Kaleidoscope Tankini worn with the Hayden Capris which have a cute little tattoo graphic detail on the back band.  They are quick dry, and perfect for travel and adventure.  The pants pack up very light and would be great on a camping trip or European holiday.  The tankini top would easily double as a top--you could wear it to a restaurant and no one would know the difference, it's just like a regular tank top.  But after lunch, you can head out onto the lake for some paddle boarding, how cool is that?  Find these and other great options HERE.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vasque Bitterroot Hiking Boots

Will you be spending time on the trails this Summer?  Backpacking?  Hiking?  Then you need to have a look at these gorgeous hiking boots that will have your feet feeling like they can move mountains.  the Vasque BITTERROOT boot has a beautiful classic look and brawn to go with it.  They make your feet feel secure, which is exactly what I need.  Having broken both ankles in my life, I need a lot of support there and my ankles feel strong and also comfortable with lots of cushion, making them a dream come true for my ankles.

There is a reinforced toe and look at those beefy Vibram soles.  There's a removable insole that can be replaced with your preferred insole such as an orthopedic insole, and the Gortex keeps your feet dry while remaining breathable.  There is so much shock absorption and stability in these boots, I don't want to take them off.

Haven't had them out on super rough terrain yet, but walked a few miles and experienced no break in time, no blisters and supreme comfort.  They make me feel powerful, as though I can go anywhere!  I love the ruby laces, but they also come with a more low profile set.  They're very good looking, but they mean business.

Of all your gear, footwear is among the most important, right up there with safety stuff.  It's one area you should not skimp at all, unhappy feet can ruin a trip and improper footwear isn't safe.  You don't want to snap an ankle because you don't have enough support, and you don't want to carry a heavy load without the proper boots on your feet.  They come in both men's and women's sizing. Find them HERE.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Adjust your pace and hike to an appropriate pace and terrain for little bodies.  Little legs can't walk as fast, kids get distracted and like to stop and investigate things along the way.  You must be journey oriented and not focused on destination--which is wonderful, it forces you to stay present.

Plan a short hike with little or no elevation gain.  Keep it easy and accessible, it it's too challenging it won't be as fun or safe for kids.  If possible, choose a trail with a body of water, a lake, river or waterfall will make the hike more exciting.  A local Ranger's station can recommend trails appropriate for your family, I love to check in with the rangers when I go to a park and find them very helpful and full of information.

Gear up together.  Enlist your kids' help with gathering the 10 essentials.  First Aid Kit?  Check.  Sunscreen?  Check.  And so on.  My son loves to fool around with our gear and feels empowered when I allow him to be in charge of some things.  Modify your first aid kit to be appropriate for children (children's ibuprofen, Bat Man band aids, etc).  

Play.  I-Spy or 20 Questions can help pick up the pace when kids show signs of fatigue or boredom.  A small magnifying glass can bring out the fascination factor of the beautiful patterns found in nature on tree stumps, leaves and insects. 

Eat.  In addition to lots of snacks, it's always fun and appreciated to stop for a little picnic.  If you dole out healthy treats (raisins, trail mix, etc) at different milestones it can keep things moving along.  Have plenty of hydration for everyone--kids can carry their own little hydration packs or water bottles and drink frequently.

Image Credit: Take a Hike Arizona

Friday, May 18, 2012

Black Diamond Head Lamps SHINE Big Time

Need a headlamp for your Summer adventures?  Black Diamond has some excellent choices, but I've narrowed it down to two favorites, the Storm and the Spot.  A great (I think necessary) feature in a headlamp is the red light feature.  With the red option, you are able to enjoy light around camp without blinding your camp mates. It also helps to preserve your batteries and works great for reading without messing up your night vision.  I'm also very fond of the various colors and patterns, this way each person can easily see which is theirs, and it also makes them stand out in your pack amongst other gear.  Highly adjustable light output makes both options ideal for your lighting needs.

The Storm Headlamp (pictured above) is made specifically to handle bad weather conditions.  It's water resistant to the point of being able to submerge it under water for 30 minutes, nice if you accidentally drop it in the lake, and great for the rain.  This headlamp (like Black Diamond's awesome lanterns) has a dimmer, so you can get your light just right and conserve battery power.  You just hold the button down after turning it on and it will dim to your desired brightness. The lamp also tilts so you can position it where you need it.  It takes four AAA batteries and is rated for 50-200 hours of use, depending on mode such as red, high, low, and strobe which is great for signaling or for visibility while biking in traffic. 

There's a battery life indicator to let you know when you are running low and it also has a lock mode to keep it from coming on in your pack accidentally and draining your power.  When you turn it off, the headlamp remembers the last setting, this is especially nice when you're using the red beam.

The Spot Headlamp is the Storm's little brother, not quite as bright or tough but it has most of the features.  The Spot has a dimmer switch and the red light option to preserve night vision and batteries.  This headlamp also has a strobe.  It has a maximum light output of 90 lumens as opposed to the Storm's 100, and the brightness levels are adjustable for a flood beam and a spot beam for focused task lighting. 

Battery access is easy, no tool required as with the Storm, and it takes three AAA batteries and battery life is 50-250 hours includes the indicator and the lock mode. 

Both of these headlamps are very intuitive to use, very comfortable to wear and easy to adjust for fit.  Both come in many colors and designs, both have the features that make them ideal.  I've had several headlamps, both of these win for the best hands down, though I am partial to the Storm.  You just can't go wrong, they're great for power outages, and outdoor activities like camping, and one belongs in your day pack on hikes as part of your 10 essentials.  A headlamp is a must have, so why not have a really good one? 

You can find them on the Black Diamond website, or you can find them on REI where this weekend they're having a sale with one of their 20% off coupons.  This would be a great way to use it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 Necessities for Camping Kids

Want to get your child into camping this Summer?  Or do you have a young one going off into Scouts or away from you to camp?  Here are three essentials to help them have a great experience.  First, they need a good pack.  This Mountainsmith Youth Pursuit backpack is a great beginner pack that will keep them comfortable and carry their stuff with good weight distribution.  It has features I would expect on a quality adult pack and it's as well made.  The shoulder straps are adjustable with foam cushion, the hip belt offers support.  There's a sleeping bag compartment and compression straps for a sleeping pad.

The air mesh foam back panel helps with ventilation and there are a lot of pockets and compartments for storage and organization.   Because the pack is so highly adjustable, it should last your child for several years easily. 

To keep kids hydrated, the pack is hydration compatible and also offers outer water bottle pockets for that extra supply.   An integrated whistle on the sternum strap is a fun touch (my son loves this), but I strongly recommend a secondary safety whistle.  Finally, it's a great looking backpack and though it's blue and that's typically associated with boys, it's just as appropriate for girls.  I wish it was around when I was a kid, I would have loved it.  The Youth Pursuit so well made, it will last through many kids easily, so if you have a few kids, it could easily get handed down.  This pack is a great value and perfect for Summer adventures. 

Next, something cozy to sleep in.  I love this lofty KELTY Little Tree Junior 20 Degree Sleeping Bag.  I love the beautiful shade of pumpkin orange.   It has an integrated compression stuff sack--Kelty does this a lot with their bags and it's wonderful for kids who can sometimes get a little too busy playing to remember to keep up with their stuff.  This way nothing can get lost.

There is added insulation around the chest area for warmth, and integrated pad loops to hold a sleeping pad in place.  It fits up to 5"4 at 72 inches and weighs 3lbs 14 oz.

My son Loves his own sleeping bag and uses one all the time at home for snuggling in front of the tv or indoor camp-outs in the tent.   I think every kid needs one, if nothing else, for sleepovers and overnights at YMCA camps.  This bag is a good value with growing room and made with such good quality it will last through more than one kid at least. 
Finally, you want to put your child's name on everything.  Check out these Limited Edition Camp Labels from Mabel's Labels.  The metal tags are great for backpacks, and they look cool.  They come in different colors and designs, I like the tents and trees apt for camping.  In the Combo pack, you get a variety of labels sized for various items.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Deuter Futura SL: Great Summer Pack

Planning on doing some day hiking with the kids this Summer?  I have the perfect pack for you, and just in time for the Season.  Check out this Futura 30L Pack from Deuter.  This pack is available in the women specific SL model, made to fit a women's body with a shorter carry system for shorter torsos, thinner straps and a contoured hip belt for a comfortable fit.  And for fun, it comes with a (removable) flower attached.  

This pack is loaded with details that make it function like a dream.  It has a fantastic Aircomfort ventilation system in the back to keep you cool, a lid compartment for those quick grab items like a first aid kit or sunscreen, and there's a toggle clip for your keys so those won't get lost floating around a big pack.  There's another zip pocket on the underside of that top compartment, perfect for your wallet and essentials like a headlamp.  There are side pockets with compression straps to reduce bulk, and an easy access front pocket for maps and energy bars.  I love the little pocket on the hip belt, perfect for my my phone.  The Futura has integrated trekking pole loops and an included rain cover located in a bottom compartment, I love this, seriously they thought of every last thing.

This pack is hydration compatible.  This never really mattered to me before, I thought I was fine with water bottles.  I've had Camelbaks before, I've used hydration packs.  But I have never used one that's integrated into a bigger pack.  I'm totally hooked now and can't believe there was ever a time I didn't do it this way.  It's just so much easier and more convenient.  Most packs have this capability these days, but there is something a little different about the Deuter hydration reservoir.  The hose detaches at the bladder, which means you don't have to take the whole thing out for refills, having to feed the tube through.  Much easier and faster this way.  It also simplifies filling it up at the sink, you don't have that hose in the way.  There's a velcro attachment on the inside of the pack to hold the reservoir in place. A  sliding clip as opposed to a screw top opening makes it very fast and easy to fill and to clean.  There's a little cover for the mouth piece that keeps it clean, and I've had no leaks at all.

There's plenty of room for the ten essentials, extra clothes for the kids, a picnic, and more.  I've taken this on two day hikes and it was super comfortable and exceeded my needs.  I really appreciated all the extra features and could easily be spoiled by Deuter.  Meticulous organization, a high tech cooling system, and plenty of water available, make the Futura an ideal Summer day pack and a great value.  Find it HERE

Monday, May 7, 2012

The 10 Essentials While in the Backcountry

The Ten Essentials, when heading for the woods, are the ten things you need to have with you at all times for safety.  If you're hiking or camping, they're the necessities that belong in your day pack.  If you're on a backpacking trip, you will have them, and if you venture off away from your campsite for exploring, you will take them along for the day.

Everybody tweaks the list a little according to thier needs, but the basics are all there, this is my version. Check out the list, and if there's anything you're missing, start adding supplies so you are ready for the Summer.   The gear you already have can be taken out and examined.  Put new batteries in headlamps and flashlights, inspect everything and make sure it's in good working order for this Summer's adventures. 

1.    Water and Food:  Carry a full Nalgene style bottle along with your hydration system.  A Steri-Pen or purification device is also great to have along for the back country.  Extra bars, granola, etc.

2.    Navigation:  Compass and map, even if you have a GPS.

3.    Clothing:  You should have extra layers for warmth and something for rain.  If you're wearing shorts, take long pants or wear convertible pants. 

4.    Communication device:   Cell phone and/or emergency location device and whistle.

5.    Light:  Headlamp or flashlight (I prefer a headlamp for hands free light).

6.    First Aid Kit:  I have personalized my kit with migraine meds and kid's meds.  Take a small kit, but make sure it has what you need.

7.    Fire:  Matches, fire starter, lighter.

8.    Knife or Multi-tool

9.    Shelter:  An emergency bivy sack, tarp, or blanket.

10.  Sun Protection:  Sun glasses, sunscreen, lip balm, hat.

Image Credit:  GuideGunner

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Go Lite this Summer

Are you planning any trips for this Summer?  Or outdoor adventures?  If you like to travel light, and most of us would rather have less to carry, especially with airlines charging so much for luggage.  And if you're headed for the woods, you know that every ounce counts.  Check out GO LITE for some fantastic options in clothing. I've just discovered them, and let me just preface this by telling you I don't think I have never been so excited about travel-outdoorsy clothing.  It's affordable, it's cofortable, and they even list the weight in the clothing descriptions for those that are really conscious of weight for packing. 

Now, what women want to know, are they--flattering?  I've only tried on three pieces so far, but I can answer that with a resounding Yes!  And I'm excited because I find this rare in adventure-wear.  I am not an athletic clothing type, I'm more of an Anthropologie type, and I also like very clean lines and simple cuts.  Yes, I love to get my hands dirty and get out there in the woods, but I want to look cute doing it.  Right?  Don't you?  So much of that type of stuff is cut in an unflattering way, or just looks frumpy and even if no one is going to see me, I still want to feel comfortable and cute out there on the trail.

Also, I have a curvy body type.  I wear an 8 on the bottom and a 10 on top,  Mediums usually do great, sometimes smalls in things like yoga pants, and in athletic clothes, sometimes a large on top.  I don't like my clothes to be tight fitting, I want that comfort but I don't want to look like I raided my man's closet either.  There are little things clothing designers can do to add femininity, subtle things.
Take the Manitou Longsleeve Hiking Top.  The neckline hints at a Mandarin which is not only feminine, but comfortable, it has diagonal lines sewn in on the sides that create a slimming look, and the sleeves come down at a slight point on your hands.  These details are flattering and make you feel like you're not just wearing a boring wicking top.  It also has a reflecting logo on the back and one on the front left side.  Functional, but still cute.  And the cut is generous too.  This is perfect for hiking and backpacking and biking, and comes in a bright orange (the Paprika is brighter in person), which I love for visibility.

The Yunnan Hiking Pant is probably the very first pant in this genre that just fit perfect at first try.  You know it can be frustrating trying on pants like this.  For me, I'm either swimming in them, or to get a length that works, it's too tight everywhere else.  These are the perfect length (I'm 5'5) and they are just right.  They are flattering!  I've had some luck with Patagonia in this area, but overall, I find it very very difficult to find pants appropriate for the outdoors that still look good.  And by appropriate, I mean not cotton, no jeans or any material that will stay wet.  You want wicking material that will dry quickly if you're caught in the rain.  They're also very light.  The photo does not do them justice at all, they are a lower-rise than what it looks in the picture and have a great shape.  You could wear them on the trail and then out to dinner, perfect for traveling and everything else.  I would say they are a Must Have, and I hope that Go Lite keeps this style and offers them in black soon, I want more pairs of these.

And finally, check out this Cayambe Reversible Dress.  You get two dresses in one, it's very flattering, butter soft, and perfect for the suitcase.  I love the ruching at the top and there's a little flounce at the bottom making you feel very feminine.  It's very light, you won't even know it's in your bag.

On top of carrying awesome functional clothing, GoLite is a socially and environmentally conscious company.  They're having a 50% off sale right now, so head over there and see if there's anything that you could use for your Summer adventures.  Find them HERE.