Friday, July 27, 2012

KEEN Newport H2

I'm a huge fan of KEEN, and have been wearing them for what, about eight years now.  They are one of my top favorite brands because one--I can't wear a pair out, and two--they're as cute as they are comfortable.  Having said that, I have never tried their flagship shoe--the Newport Sandal.  Honestly, I never thought they were KEEN's best looking style.

But, last year I got my son a pair and after seeing them on him every day they really started to grow on me, they really are very cute!  This year I discovered that KEEN has a washable version--the leather free NEWPORT H2.  You can just throw them in the wash, fabulous!  How perfect for all the Summer activities like wading around in water, kayaking, frog catching, puddle stomping, etc.

They're perfect for in between weather too, when flip flops are too little, but a shoe is overkill. These are the perfect Summer hybrid of sandal-shoe-hiking boot. The soles are beefy and shock absorbing and you can hit the trails in these (light trails).  They're versatility lends itself to travel.  Really great Summer shoe, find it HERE. Remember to order up a half size with most KEEN shoes.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Why use a Bear Resistant Canister?  Several great reasons.  Many state parks require bear kegs, it keeps you safe, it keeps the bears safe, and it keeps food from being taken and you going hungry in the back country.  A lot of backpackers like to hang their food from trees at night, which might work for a lot of people.  However, bear experts say that bears will go through unbelievable trials to get at food in trees, even injuring themselves trying to climb out on fragile branches that are way too small for them.  Keeping your food high in a tree is not a guarantee it will be safe.

Bears will break into cars to get to coolers and food items as small as a stick of gum.  They break right through the glass and have been known to tear through the back seats to get into trunks.  Their sense of smell is incredible, topping that of dogs by 100 percent.  And the shenanigans they will go through to get to your food are legendary, they are very smart and relentlessly determined. 
This can be dangerous for humans and for bears.  And thankfully, state parks began instituting precautionary measures back in 1999 which have really helped to curb this problem.  Damages and injuries went way down with bear management programs and the key has been to require humans to lock up their food.  This way bears have no desire to come in contact with us.  They say that bears so quickly discovered the futility of messing around with bear canisters, that many, when they see them, just walk right by them.  That's a win-win.  Keeps us safe from bears and keeps bears safe from having to be put down because they are too motivated to enter human camps looking for food.
A great solution are BearVaults.  They are easy for us to open and close, yet bear proof, certified by the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group for Black Bears and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for Grizzly Bears.  They are clear blue plastic and you can see the contents from the outside, the wide opening makes it easy to get at food, and they make for a good little chair around camp.  They come in a Solo size, weighing 2 lbs 1oz and large enough to contain 4 days worth of food for one person.  The larger size weighs 2 lbs 9 oz and will hold enough food for seven days for one person.  There are grooves on the vault to help you strap it on the outside of your pack if you desire, and they are rain proof.  At night, you put all food, bars, body products like toothpaste and lip balm into the BearVault and place a good one hundred feet away from where you are sleeping.  If you can, try to wedge it between rocks or logs and you're good to go.

If you're going to be camping and backpacking in bear territory, you need a Bear Vault.  Find one HERE. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SteriPEN Freedom, the Latest Edition

Did you know that city municipalities use UV light to treat our drinking water?  How cool is it that SteriPen has figured out a way to make a hand held version for travel and outdoor use?  They make several models of the SteriPen, and the Freedom is the latest, a rechargeable version, featuring a new option to charge via USB port or AC adapter.  Since most people travel with devices now, and those charge with USB connectors, this new recharging method is a great option. It's also smaller than the other SteriPens, making it more convenient and better for travel.

In just a few seconds, the SteriPen gets rid of bacteria and viruses that can make us sick and ruin a trip.  You may need to filter the water first, depending on where you are.  SteriPen makes a pre-filter that fits right on a standard Nalgene bottle, or you can use a different method of pre-filtering.   If you are just in a hotel room in Mexico for instance, you can get water right out of the tap and treat it.

All you do is take off the lid, immerse in water, stir, and when the green light comes on, you're done.
You get up to 40 treatments per charge.  There's an LED light option on the end of the SteriPen, which you can activate by rotating it three times--will I remember this on travels, I don't know.  It will stay on for three minutes, or you can turn it off the same way.

While I think this is ideal for traveling, it might also work for backpacking trips, it only weighs 2.6 oz, with the included case, cord, and adapter, it's 6.4 oz.  Some solar chargers have USB ports, I'm thinking of the ones that you can just clip to your backpack.  One of those and this SteriPen would make a nice pair for the back country.  I hesitate a little here because I have personally never been able to find an effective solar charger, but I have hope in that direction.  I also question the practicality of carrying a solar charger when two AAA batteries are lighter and more universal.   But in the end, I think the SteriPen Freedom takes the best of the previous models and condenses that technology into a very practical and necessary device.  It's appropriate for a wide audience from the business traveler, world trekker and the back country folks.  Find it HERE.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Three Things for Your Beach Bag

Eco Friendly REVO Sunglasses.  Check out these fabulous earth friendly sunglasses by REVO.  You would be amazed at how much clearer the world looks through these lenses, what a difference!  Everything is crisp and glares disappear due to the polarization.  How exactly this works, I am not sure, but it works.

This comes in so handy around water, and really cuts down on eye strain.  I love the Bearing sunglasses which are big and provide a lot of protection.  I'm actually sensitive to light and these glasses are a dream come true. 
Vapur Bottle.  The new Element Vapur Bottle has a different lid, a bigger, more manageable one that you can just flip open and shut. 
I think this is an improvement over the regular style because I can open it with a flip of one hand, there's no cap to fall off, and I don't have to use my teeth.

What  I love about these bottles (both styles) is that you can freeze them.  I keep one in the freezer all the time and it can double as an ice block in our cooler and I've even used it as an ice pack for an aching neck.  If you pack a frozen one, when it melts you have water to drink.  It's a great design.  After you're done drinking, you just roll it up and tuck it into the clip reducing the space it takes in your bag. 

Badger Balm Sunscreen Stick.  I am not a fan of most sunscreen, it's toxic and buns my eyes.  Even some of the more "natural" ones that you find at the co-op can be really irritating and not so natural.   The Badger balm sunscreens are fabulous.  They contain organic ingredients and don't irritate.  My favorite is the stick which you can rub all over your face (and your child's face) and it doesn't melt or sting your eyes.  Very convenient and not toxic. 

Image Credit: germeister

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wholesome Sweeteners: AGAVE TO GO

Are you an agave nectar user who wishes you could take it everywhere with you?  Well now you can with Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Agave Packets.  This is so great for travelers, campers, and folks that just want to take it to work or school. 

Wholesome Sweeteners is a great brand, they are Fair Trade, Organic and quality.  I like every single product I've tried and was thrilled to find this new option.  Agave can be messy and you would probably never consider taking a bottle traveling.  This solves all of that--brilliant idea!  Perfect for all your summer needs (picnic anyone?).  Find it HERE.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ex Officio BugsAway Clothing

They say this year mosquitoes and ticks are going to be extra bad.  So what if, like me, you are sensitive to chemicals and avoid bug spray like the plague?  You can invest in some of Ex Officio's BugsAway clothing, that's what.

Check out this Halo shirt which incorporates Insect Shield, a non toxic pesticide that is bonded to the fabric fibers.  It's made with Premethrin, which is derived from chrysanthemum flowers.  There is absolutely no smell and you can't see it, but the bugs hate it.  It works on mosquitoes, flies, ticks, ants and no-see-ums, how cool is this?!  The bug repellent lasts through 70 washes, and this shirt also has the added bonus of being UPF 30+ for extra sun protection.

The sleeves roll up  and button to keep them up, and there is ventilation in the back--perfect for hiking and backpacking.  There are two security pockets on the front (I wish these were located somewhere else for women), and it's quick drying and lightweight making it great for travel too.  How have I lived without this stuff?  I can think of so many times this would have made outdoor situations so much better.

Ex Officio's BugsAway line comes in all sorts of pieces for both men and women so you can outfit appropriately for the occasion.  The fit on the Halo shirt is relaxed (I wear an 8-10 top and the M fit generously).  They come in different colors and patterns perfect for your Summer adventures.  Find yours HERE.