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After what can only be deemed as an abysmal start to the ski season, with months of high pressure and facets, we're finally seeing some precipitation up here in AK, and I've finally had a chance to get out and ski in my Outdoor Research Vanguard Pants.
Outdoor Research Vanguard PantsThe Vanguard Pants, new for winter 2012/2013 are a highly waterproof, highly breathable softshell ski pant with lots of sidecountry features such as a Recco reflector and a beacon pocket. Available in both Men’s and Women’s designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who’s wearing it! Overall, I'm enjoying the pants. So far, they're as waterproof as OR says they should be, offer great mobility for touring and appear to be fairly burly. Errant Alders are no match for the material on the Vanguards...
- Most waterproof softshells I've ever worn- After 3 hours of resort laps in Alyeska's infamous "Mixed Precip" (read: rain), my legs were still dry. The pants were soaked, but my legs were still dry. I then wore them for a 4-day Level 2 Avalanche course, and spent all my time sitting in pits I dug. I came home dry each day.
- Beacon pocket- I love this thing. The pocket is actually mesh pocket inside a pocket with a clip to keep your beacon attached to you.
- Dual sided thigh vents with double zippers. Dump heat fast, but don't worry about fumbling around with a one way zipper to get them zipped back up.
- The Vanguards are HUGE. Definitely try them on, or order a size smaller than you normally would. Consistently a size small in Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear and other Outdoor Research Products, I chose a size small in the Vanguards. Even in my ski boots, the pants drag on the ground, and I've maxed out the elastic waistband adjustment to keep them from sagging down to my knees. The size guide indicates that a Small should have a 29 inch inseam. I'd put mine at about 34 inches.
- The pockets may be overkill. I love the beacon pocket, but don't have a ton of use for the 2 mid thigh pockets in addition to the 2 front and 2 back pockets. On the plus side, I guess I'll never run out of space for CLIF shots...
Check 'Em OutOutdoor Research Women's Vanguard Pants or Outdoor Research Men's Vanguard Pants... Read more...
As temps drop and we start seeing snow on our higher peaks in Alaska, winter is officially on the brain. Early fall is one of my favorite times of the year- not because of the changing leaves or cool, crisp mornings, but rather because early fall means new gear! Time to play with all the new toys coming out for the 2012/2013 winter! So far, here's what I'm getting stoked about for ski season:
A Pair of 163 Praxis MVP Custom Ordered SkisSay who? Praxis? If you aren't familiar with Keith O'Meara's custom shaped skis out of Tahoe, get familiar, and fast. Praxis has been around for years, cranking out some of the most innovative ski technology with incredibly high quality. As world class caliber skiers such as Drew Tabke and Kevin O'Meara begin to ski Praxis skis and bring notoriety to the name, more and more people have been drawn to the brand. Keith, the man behind the curtain, has directed his focus towards making smaller batch, custom skis designed to fit a variety of riders. For my season-long pleasure, I will be skiing a pair of 163 Most Valuable Praxis, or MVP skis, in the "soft" flex with the graphic of my choosing. All of Keith's skis are available for immediate purchase as his original designed model, or available to be custom ordered for flex (choices of soft, medium, medium/stiff and stiff), layup (triaxial fiberglass or a carbon/triaxial fiberglass blend), length, and graphic. Choose from Praxis's badass graphic library or upload your own! Best part? All this customization comes at little to no extra price. Pick your own flex and graphic for free. If you'd like to add the carbon there is a nominal materials fee increase, and if you'd like to upload your own graphic, there's a small fee for that as well. Look to hear more about Praxis and my new MVPs later in the season. Men's and Women's designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who's wearing it! I'm excited to test out the GoreTex softshell material up here in AK, and see how it holds up to our heavy wet snow. Men's version, which features a lobster-claw style 3 finger glove design. Read more...
Timbuk2 really brought it home with the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag diaper bag. Finally a diaper bag that isn't lame. Let's face it, at some point most of us will have kids and we no longer have to succumb to bags that suck.
Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag Features
- Durable ballistic nylon exterior
- Machine washable (Hallelujah!). Remove the changing pad, wash on a gentle cycle with mild soap and hang dry
- Waterproof TPU liner with tough guy tricycle print
- True Fit cam buckle eliminates daily fit adjustments, gifting you precious seconds back into your life
- Grab strap for easy lifting
- Internal water bottle and bottle bottle pockets. A cold one for you, a hot one for mini-me
- Padded removable changing pad with an external, stretchy pacifier pocket, two internal mesh diaper pockets and one clear zippy pocket for dirty dogs
- Slightly padded internal slash pocket against the back wall for the stashing the changing pad, magazines, laptops or ipads (in a sleeve)
- Clear three-zip front organizer help the sleep deprived find what they need like now
- Napoleon side entry zipper pocket for grabbing keys or small magical toys without opening the messenger flap
- Internal zip organizer for storing adult and baby accessories
- Red key tether clips your keys or pacifier in place
- Vista loop for blinky lights (or baby monitors)
- Cross Strap for stabilization included
- Coordinating Strap Pad included
- Price: $139
Timbuk2 Stork Messenger BagReviewThe first thing you'll notice is the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag looks like a regular messenger bag on the outside. Not to sound like the person says "its what on the inside that counts" but the inside of the Stork is awesome. Timbuk2 put a lot of time, effort, research, and planning to knock it out of the park with the Stork. Holy pockets galore! Timbuk2 put in pockets, the added more pockets, then added a few more just for fun. There is literally a place for everything. My favorite pockets (my wife's too) are the clear zipper pockets. The "bottle bottle" pocket is lightly insulated to help keep the bottles warm. Then more pockets to help keep you organized. Now if only you could remember where you put the pacifier... I had mixed feelings on the changing pad. It's large and very cushy which makes changing diapers a nicer job. Where I found the pad fell short was when it was packed with diapers or wipes. I could fit two size 1 diapers and a thin plastic wipe container. With just those few things the Velcro barely closed. I like to carry more than 2 diapers in a changing pad. The changing pad does have a couple of nice features: a carry handle to take it solo, a stretchy pocket for keys or pacifier, and a long, clear zippered pocket. The pocket does face the same space issue. If you put much into it the Velcro won't close. The Stork is also a great size. You can fit a ton in it, but when it's empty it doesn't look bulky. Our latest addition is twin girls and we can fit everything we need for a day about with the twins plus some items for the big sisters in the Stork plus have some room to spare. When fully loaded the wide strap and matching shoulder pad keep the Stork riding comfortably. Of course, being a Timbuk2 bag it rides exceptionally well when carried via bike. My wife commented on wishing it came in different colors...I like that it doesn't look like a typical diaper bag. I love the inside fabric. The tricycles help round out the looks and add a little fun to the design. The Good
- Pockets galore
- Well thought out features
- Great design and looks
- Changing pad falls short on carrying diaper and wipes
- Only in black
Bottom Line:Best diaper bag, EVER! Timbuk2 really knocked it out of the park. Buy Now: Pick up the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag[gallery]... Read more...
While most of the Lower 48 is enjoying summer climbing weather already, we're just barely transitioning out of full on winter up here in AK. Unfortunately, that transition means some rainy days amidst the snow. To keep me warm in the rain or the snow, I've been reaching for my Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Specs
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® shell fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Double-separating front zipper
- Zippered napoleon pocket (great for stashing a CLIF shot!), plus a zippered internal chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets. One handwarmer pocket is intended to double as a stuff sack.
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- MSRP: $225
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewThe Havoc is a synthetic insulated jacket, taken to the "next level" with Windstopper material integrated into the exterior of the jacket. What a great idea! Eric raves about this also in his own review of the Havoc. Why don't all synthetic puffy coats come with Windstopper? No added weight or bulk, and added warmth. Good thinking on Outdoor Research's part. I used the Havoc as my primary insulation layer for ski touring, and often used it as my outer layer as well. The Windstopper material made it so that I didn't need a shell over the insulation to keep the wind chill out. Awesome. When I heard about the Havoc, I was a bit concerned that it might be less packable/pliable due to the Windstopper shell. Not so. My Havoc packs down smaller than my old Patagonia MicroPuff does, and comes with the added benefit of the Windstopper shell. Win win!
- Primaloft insulation keeps you warm, but what really adds to the heat of this jacket is the Windstopper exterior. No biting chills accidentally making it through the jacket.
- Sizing is right on and equivalent to the rest of their line.
- The hood is a great size. Big enough to fit over a hat or a climbing helmet (not a ski helmet), but not giant. Not stowable, but that doens't phase me.
- Handwarmer pockets have a fleece lining inside them. Bonus!
- I wish the Havoc came with a stuff sack for stowing in my pack when I'm not using it. One of the handwarmer pockets is intended to double as a stuff sack, but it seems a bit cumbersome. I like having a separate bag that I can just jam things right into without worrying about accidentally ripping a zipper.
- The Double Separating front zipper makes it a pain to zip up sometimes. Since both parts have to be all the way down, it seems I spend a lot of time fumbling with that.
Bottom LineA well designed synthetic insulation jacket with the added bonus of a Windstopper shell. Check out the Havoc here!... Read more...
Whether you’re on groomers, knees deep in powder tree skiing/riding or skinning up a peak for a little backcountry -- here are my Top 3 snowboard pants for 2011/12 and beyond. 3. The North Face Women's Skinster Pants When The North Face came out with their Cryptic line I was a bit skeptical, but since most of my fleece and hiking apparel is North Face I thought why not give it a try. The rest is history. The Skinster pants are a new low-rise boot cut fit, which is nice for us snowboarders! The pants are equipped with waterproofing, good breathability and are fully seam sealed to keep you dry. Only bummer -- available in just one color. MSRP: $199 Features:
- Fabricshell: Hyvent® 2l Stretch Twill / Lining: Stretch Taffeta
- Waterproof, Breathable, Fully Seam Sealed
- Recco® Avalanche Rescue Reflector
- Adjustable Waist Tabs
- Handwarmer Zip Pockets
- Inner Thigh Vents With Mesh Gussets
- Stretchvent™ Gaiter With Gripper Elastic
- Reinforced Cuffs
- Chimney Venting™ System
- Pant-A-Lock Compatible
- Buddy Lift Clip
- 10,000/8,000mm Waterproof/Breathable Rating
- Strata Hd Ii™ With DWR - remains waterproof and breathable, even after numerous washings.
- Fully Taped Seams
- 15,000mm Waterproof
- 10,000gm Breathable
- Fully taped seams
- Fleece smarty liner pant with capri length adjustment
- Thigh cargo pocket with flip-up pass pocket
- Zippered side pocket
As Brig delineated in his Osprey Karve Review, Osprey really is the backpack brand that other companies aspire to be. Quality, durability, thoughtful features and extreme attention to detail allow Osprey to market some of the higher end packs available. The Sirrus series, with packs available in a 24L or 36L size, is no exception.
Osprey Sirrus Packs Details
- Women's specific pack has a specially designed hip belt, and 3 different torso lengths to ensure a proper fit
- Suspended mesh back panel allows for superior ventilation. No back sweat!
- 5 exterior pockets in addition to main compartment
- Available in 36L or 24L sizes
- MSRP: $99 for 24L, $139 for 36L
Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack ReviewI was able to spend some time testing out a Sirrus 24L pack for Gear.com, and was quite impressed with all the small features that show true attention to detail. The oversized "o" shaped zipper pulls seem to really embody Osprey's approach to pack development- what a tiny thing to focus on! However, it becomes obvious why that was a good idea when you're fumbling to open your pack with gloves on. No problem. Worried about your gear getting wet in an unexpected downpour? Don't worry, the Sirrus packs both come with an integrated rain cover. Other features I enjoyed included the small stash pockets on the hip belt (great for stashing a CLIF Shot or two) and the side mesh pockets- finally, a pack whose pockets are big enough to accommodate a Nalgene! The available front pocket is just the right size for a small lunch, so you aren't rifling through the main compartment to look for your Pb&j. Also included is a smaller pocket for stashing your keys or other valuables. The main compartment of the 24L pack is big enough to hold some essentials for a day hike- a rain jacket, maybe an extra layer or two, and a small first aid kit fit comfortably in mine. However, this is where my only complaint for the Sirrus comes in- all these incredible features almost seem to be overkill in a pack of such small size. Yes, it's got great suspension and a mesh panel to help distribute weight, but how much distribution do you really need in a 24L pack. Unless you're packing rocks in there, the amount of space inside of the Sirrus 24L compared to the beefy design doesn't seem to even out. That being said, I imagine that the 36L pack would be a great choice for quick overnights! The 36L is a top loading pack as opposed to the panel loading 24L, which always seems to offer more space (compare a panel loading 24L to a top loading 24L. In every test I've done, I can always fit way more in the top loader). With that being the only major difference, the 36L would offer all the awesome, beefy features of the 24L, with enough usable space to actually need them! I've taken my 24L on several longer day hikes and cross-country ski adventures in the Chugach up here, an it's great. Durable material, features out the wazoo, lightweight... It just seems to feel like a large profile pack for the small amount of gear you need on a day hike. An area it really excels in is day hikes requiring technical equipment. Because the pack's frame is quite sturdy, and because it includes a single ice axe loop, tossing a mountaineering axe onto the Sirrus 24 is a breeze, and you don't have to worry about it flopping all over as you hike.
Bottom LineA beefy, featured filled day pack in the 24L, or an overnight pack in the 36L. Check it out: Osprey Sirrus Packs or the Men's Osprey Stratos Series ... Read more...
Make your baselayers work a little bit harder. The Columbia Midweight Baselayers work harder for you with the addition of their Omni-Heat lining.
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Top Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Thumb holes
- Price: $59.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Bottom Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Gusset detail
- Price: $54.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayers ReviewThe Columbia Midweight Baselayers are a good all around baselayer for multi-season activities. In the fall and spring they work as stand alone layering pieces for cool weather exploits. I've found the top to be sufficient by itself for trail runs down into the 30s. In the winter they pair well as part of a layering system. The Omni-Heat reflective lining helps keep in additional warmth. As Columbia says "keeping you up to 20% warmer". When I first looked at the lining as I pulled the pieces out of the package I was skeptical. I thought it was going to feel like tin foil rubbing on my skin. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Omni-Heat lining is smooth and soft on the skin. I didn't notice it at all and it's surprisingly comfortable. The 4-way comfort stretch fabric helps with mobility and keeps you from feeling restricted when you're moving. The antimicrobial properties work wonders and you can even get away with wearing the pieces multiple times between washings. You know how typically with synthetic layers as you pull on your shirt for the second time you get repulsed by the stench? This isn't the case with the Columbia Midweight baselayer. The antimicrobial properties keep the smell at bay. The fit is definitely athletic. I'm 6 feet tall and 180 lbs and the large top and bottom fit me perfectly. One thing I will say on the fit is the arms are cut a little high so fits tight through the armpits. On the bottoms, do yourselves a favor gents and get the pair with the fly. I don't get why they'd make them without. The Good
- Warm & versatile
- Top fit a little tight through the armpits
- No fly on certain bottom models
Bottom Line:Looking for a solid baselayer to span multiple seasons? Get the Columbia Midweight Baselayers. Buy Now: Columbia Midweight Baselayers [gallery]... Read more...
As temperatures have been steadily in the negative twenties for the past couple of weeks up here in the Great White North, I've taken up a new hobby to thaw out- hot yoga. Nothing reminds your body of its own capability to sweat like working out in a 105 degree room for an hour and a half. For yoga class as of late, I've been wearing my new Moving Comfort Flow pants and Charity Sports bra to give them a good test.
Moving Comfort Flow Pants
- 2¼" contoured waistband
- Powermesh vent at center back waist
- Double layer crotch gusset
- Internal pocket
- 32" inseam, also available in "long" length
- MSRP: $66
- The waistband is awesome! As an active, fit individual, nothing irks me more than when I try on a pair of pants and they create that supergross "muffin top" look, just because of the way the fabric is shaped. The wide, contoured waistband makes sure that doesn't happen, and also means that the pants stay put, whether you are walking into class or wrapped up in Crow pose.
- Comfortable, and not so tight that you're uncomfortable walking around in public while wearing them.
- Durable poly/spandex blend makes for a beefy pair of pants- I can tell they will last through several vinyasas, runs, or whatever else I chose to do in them!
- The pants are a bit wide at the bottom. I would love it if they were a little more narrow, and looked a bit less "bell-bottom-y." They would have been pretty awesome for climbing too if they were a bit more narrow, but as it stands, that extra material would get in the way.
Moving Comfort Charity Sports Bra
- Small/Medium Cup Size
- Seam-free interior molded cups encapsulate for extra support and shaping
- Wide straps
- MSRP: $36
- Mesh panel along back of bra allows for additional ventilation
- Light lining gives you some cover without being full of padding, and helps to wick moisture away from your body
- The material is not terribly stretchy (which is what gives the bra its compression abilities), which means that the straps and band are fairly static. The band was a bit too tight on me, but a size larger would have been too big.
- A bit low cut for a sports bra
With 100% recycled polyester lining, 650 fill power down filling and a stylish design, Horny Toad's Geisha Vest attempts to merge stylish form and function into one.
Horny Toad Geisha Vest Details
- Lining is 100% recycled polyester
- 650fp down-filled wide horizontal baffles
- Exposed asymmetric full-front zipper with wind flap
- Interior chest zip pocket
Horny Toad Geisha Vest ReviewNormally, I am quite a fan of Horny Toad's clothes and designs. On paper, the Geisha vest looked like a super cute idea. However, when I got the vest, I was a bit disappointed. While the design looks cute, the sizing was super off and the exterior material was not my favorite texture. Usually a size "small" in most clothing items/gear, I was swimming in the Small Geisha Vest. I think that even an Extra Small would have been quite large. Both the torso length and the width were inches too big. Sorry Horny Toad, while I normally love your products, this one is a swing and a miss for me! That being said, the Geisha vest has a lot of great features, and would be a great, stylish-yet-functional piece if it fit! The asymmetrical zipper adds a bit of flair to your average down vest that you don't usually see. I love that Horny Toad has moved towards using recycled materials in their clothing, including the 100% recycled lining of the Geisha Vest.
- Warm warm warm! 650 fill power down keeps you toasty.
- I like the idea behind the shawl collar- added warmth and a bit of style.
- The fit is not what I would call on par with the rest of Horny Toad's line, or standard outdoor apparel sizing.
Check It OutHorny Toad Geisha Vest... Read more...
New for the 2011/2012 season, the K2 SideKick is just wider than the GotBacks (102 underfoot), but not as wide as any of the twin-tipped team skis, like the MissDirected (117 underfoot). A member of k2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick became my primary backcountry ski for the beginning of the season. After a few months of skiing it, here's my general impression.
K2 SideKick Skis- The Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
K2 SideKick Skis- The ReviewThe largest ski in K2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick is advertised as the "do-it-all" pow slaying machine that will also keep a good, quick turn in the trees. After skiing on it for a few months, I'd say that's mostly true. We've had an epic start to our season up here in AK, with each Sunday for the past 5 weeks bringing a massive storm that dumps between 30 and 40 inches. However, we've also had some crazy wind events, so I've had an opportunity to ski the SideKicks in both feet of fresh and on some more variable terrain. So far, I've been impressed. They have super decent float in deep snow, especially considering that they're only 108 underfoot. The traditional camber helps for the hard pack sections, and All Terrain rocker keeps your tips up in both the pow and crud. I was most surprised at how "turny" the ski was on harder snow. I own a few other pairs of skis with a similar sidecut, but the combination of progressive sidecut and traditional camber on the SideKick makes it quite a snappy little ski. If you're not really on the ski, you'll suddenly find yourself facing uphill and wondering how the hell that happened. After skiing a few runs in-bounds, I got a much better feel for how to initiate a turn with the SideKicks, but that did seem to be the case across all conditions. She makes nice, tight turns if you're on top of things, or runs amok the opposite direction if you're half-a$*ing it. That being said, the SideKick maintains its float in the powder, and has no trouble straightlining down bigger lines and making beautiful, swooping, faceshot instigating turns. The All Terrain Rockered/early rise tip handled speed well- you won't see the chatter that you often see with bigger, full rocker, non-cambered skis. I mounted my SideKicks with a pair of the new Dynafit Radical ST bindings, so overall, it's a lightweight and very backcountry oriented set-up. The features of all of K2's BackSide Adventure series skis include flat tails, for easy plunging into the snow for anchor construction and holes drilled in the tip and tail which allows for emergency sled construction if need be. I have yet to need to utilize either of these features, but it seems like a sweet idea. I do, however, miss the rockered tails that most all my other skis have, which is sacrificed for the flat tail design of the BackSide Adventure series skis. As I mentioned in my initial blurb about the SideKicks, K2's skis seem to run long. I own a pair of Moment Reagans, size 168, an older pair of Karhu Berths, size 165, and when I stood my new K2s up next to them, I assumed that at 167, they’d sit right in the middle. Not so. They tower over the Reagans. I checked in with our local ski shop and the 167 seems to be on par with what all other ski companies call a 172-173. So, definitely check the skis out in person. They still skied great for me, but be sure to get a look at the ski before you order one- you might want to size down from what is your normal size, even with that All Terrain Rocker and early rise tip. Overall, seems to be a great intermediate to advanced level ski. Skis the pow well, and turns well on hard pack if you know how to drive it.
Check 'Em OutK2 Sidekick Skis... Read more...
Seen any ladies running around in what looks like a puffy jacket, but they're wearing it as a skirt? It's most likely a Skhoop Skirt, an insulated, water resistant skirt made to be worn over your regular layers. A little skeptical about the idea of a skirt as a functional piece of clothing? So was I. Read on and you won't be!
Skhoop Short Down Skirt- The Details
- Insulated with 500+ fillpower down
- Exterior is a water repellant polyester
- 1 side full zip, 1 side zip to hip
- Available in Black, Turquiose or Plum
- Sizes XS-XXL
- MSRP: $159
The Scoop on the SkhoopI am the first to admit that the idea of skirts for outdoor pursuits irritates me. The whole "running skirt" phenomenon was something I never understood. Why can't you just wear shorts like everyone else? So, when I spent my first winter in Alaska and I saw the ENTIRE town that I live in wearing these Skhoop down skirts in the Fall and Winter, I was, of course, flummoxed. Here were these women that I considered rational, non-cutesy fashion obsessed, normal people, and they were all wearing some form of Skhoop skirt. Either it was the Rain Skirt in the fall, Insulated Long Skirt or the Short Down Skirts in the winter, but they were everywhere. What was I missing? Naturally, curiosity got the better of me, and I contacted Skhoop to see if I could test one for Gear.com and get the scoop (no pun intended) on these things. As it turns out, Skhoop and all the ladies of Girdwood, AK were on to something. Unlike the running skirt craze, these Skhoop skirts are actually quite functional. Based out of Sweeden, Skhoop understands what living in a cold environment is like. When I wake up every morning and go to take my dog on a walk, there are usually several layers of down, a shell, mittens and a hat that come along with us. Even with all that, when the high is in the single digits, it's still a bit chilly. Wearing a Skhoop skirt is much like wearing snow pants- it keeps your legs warm and insulated. However, there's no battle with putting on a marshmellow-eqse pair of insulated pants over your jeans. Simply zip the skirt open, step in, and zip it closed. No pants changing required. Back in from your walk? Zip, slip off, done.
- Keeps you toasty warm on walks, no matter the weather
- Full zip on one side allows for easy on and off
- Water resistant material beads off snow easily
- The length is great! I love that I can still maneuver just as I would if I was wearing only pants. Short enough not to get in the way and long enough to cover your thighs and keep you warm. The skirt comes down to about 2 inches above my knees, and my rain/snow boots come up to about 2 inches below them, so pretty much everything is covered!
- An unusual added bonus- I don't have a garage and my Subaru has leather seats, which get super cold outside overnight. My Skhoop skirt keeps my bum from freezing while my car is still warming up as I drive to work.
- I can't seem to stop the skirt from riding up a bit higher than I'd like it to. If I wore a size larger, it'd fall right off my waist, but the current size I have seems to want to migrate about 4 inches further up than I'd like to to, so I feel like I spend a fair amount of time yanking it back down to sit on my hips as opposed to my waist.
Bottom LineI am a down skirt convert. Like snow pants for adults, but more functional and less "marshmallow man" looking.
Check 'Em OutSkhoop makes several different types of skirts, and REI has just started carrying a selection of them: Skhoop Skirts at REI Or, for the one that I tried and loved: Skhoop Short Down Skirt Even more choices at www.Skhoop.us, Skhoop's website.... Read more...
Icebreaker, the veritable king of the wool world, has your back if you still don't have a gift for that active individual on your holiday gift list. The Icebreaker Tech Top, a midweight base layer, has almost all the functional features you'd want, and will keep the winter chill away for any outdoor activity.
Icebreaker Tech Top Details
- Icebreaker 260 g/m2 Merino Wool
- 3 Way Collar- Zipped up, zipped down or rolled down
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $110
Icebreaker Tech Top ReviewAfter making the Tech Top my go to piece for my last several ski tours, I am loving it! I have worn it for 10+ tours and haven't washed it yet- no stench! For my full "wool vs. synthetic" commentary, see my review of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings (which, coincidentally, I have worn on all the tours I've had the Tech Top out for). The heavier weight wool provides ample warmth on the cooler days, but might be overkill for the milder days.
- Thummies! Though I'm sure that's not the technical term, the Tech top comes with the ever-wonderful thumb loops which I refer to as thummies. Keeps your sleeves from riding up as you layer. I love it.
- Stink free and fuzzy soft. I'm not going to re-argue the benefits of wool here, but I continue to be a fan. After multiple wears, the Tech Top isn't smelly or scratchy. Go wool.
- The Tech Top isn't incredibly long. Though the back side is longer than the front (that's your drop tail hem), the front could use to be a bit longer. It worked fine for layering, but I would have loved to see it about an inch longer in the front.
- No pocket. I love the Napoleon pocket on layers like this and was a bit disappointed to see that the Tech top didn't come with one. That's usually my go-to location to stash my iPod and a CLIF shot.
Bottom LineA great cool weather layering piece that keeps the stink at bay.
Check it OutIcebreaker Tech Top... Read more...
Looking for a gift for the lady on your list who likes to look stylish but only if it doesn't mean sacrificing functionality and comfort? The Keen Shelby High Boots might be right up her alley. A fully waterproof leather boot without a heel, the Shelby looks super style-y with a corduroy skirt and some tights, yet doesn't require changing into snow boots each time you need to walk outside.
Keen Shelby High Boots: The Details
- Keen.Dry waterproof breathable membrane
- Leather interior lining
- Waterproof side zipper
- Rubber non-marking sole with traction lugs
- Available in Brown full grain leather, Black full grain leather or a Light brown/dark brown combo
- MSRP: $170
Keen Shelby High Boots: The ReviewI have always loved Keen's outdoor oriented shoes, and thought I'd give their "Boulevard Line," shoes best suited for more casual use, a try. Keen seems to do as well with casual shoes as they do their hiking boots- I love my Shelbys! Living in a rain forest, the idea of owning leather boots just seemed silly. However, when I saw that the Shelbys came with the Keen.Dry technology that I know and trust, I figured I could give leather boots a try. So far, they've stood up to the downpours up here, and appear to be no worse for the wear.
- No heel! I love that I get the same traction that I would in a pair of Keen hiking boots while wearing fancy leather boots and a skirt!
- Boots have an elastic insert around the top that allows for some flexibility in your calves. They also have a bit bigger calf circumference than other leather boots I've tried on, which is nice for us more active ladies!
- Zipper is also waterproof so you're not getting moisture that sneaks in unexpectedly.
- Nothing negative to say about this boot. Another success for Keen.
Just as it's started dumping up here in Alaska, new toys from K2 have arrived, begging to be skied! The K2 SideKick will be my primary backcountry ski this season. I'll be mounting them with the new Dynafit Radical STs, so look for a full review of both the Sidekicks and the Radicals after I've had an opportunity to get out and ski them.
K2 SideKick Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths (see sizing info below!)
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
Check 'Em OutK2 SideKick Ski K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins... Read more...
We’ve had a spectacular fall in Tahoe this year. There’s nothing better than hiking, biking, or spending the last days before winter on the Lake. After living in Tahoe for nearly 5 years I’ve learned there are a few key elements that can make or break a day hike – socks, shoes, and H2O. Below are my top picks for these key components. What gear can’t you live without this fall? 3. Smartwool Women's PhD Outdoor Light Micro When it comes to skiing or snowboarding Smartwool is my go to sock, so why not try on a pair for hiking. This sock makes your feet feel good. It’s the blend of a high performance fit and light cushioning that keeps you comfortable during those fall hikes. There’s even a padded achilles tab to offer additional protection. I would recommend the PhD outdoor Light Micro for any gal hiking no more than 5 hours. Available in 3 neutral colors MSRP: $15 Features: • 73% Merino Wool, 25%Nylon, 2% Elastic • 4-Degree Fit System for all-day performance fit • WOW™ technology in high density impact zones to reduce shock and abrasion • Merino wool inside for moisture, temperature and odor control • Duroyarn reinforcement for added comfort and durability • Strategic mesh zones for maximum ventilation 2. Merrell Women's Avian Light Ventilator Your shoes can make or break your day. For day hikes I like to grab my Avian Light Ventilor. On top of being lightweight there's mesh panels built-in for climate control which keeps feet cool and not too sweaty. Support, lightweight and climate control what more could one ask for on a day hike. Best for spring to fall hikes. Available in four fun colors. MSRP: $95 Features: UPPER/LINING • Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort • Waterproof nubuck leather, pig suede and mesh upper • Mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor • Bellows tongue keeps debris out • Ortholite® anatomical footbed MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE • Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort • Merrell QForm® Comfort midsole provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning • Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability 1. CamelBak 2011 L.U.X.E.™ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate... I don't leave home for a bike ride or hike without my Camelbak. Bigger isn't always better, look for something that can carry sunscreen, an extra layer and don't forget lunch. The Camel L.U.X.E. comes with a 3L reservoir which is nice for those longer day hikes. It's nice to pick up a extra 1L or 2L reservoir to swap out for the shorter day hikes. I love stash pockets and think they should be an essential for all gear. It's a nice feature for a multi-tool, phone, ipod or camera. Available in four colors. Don't forget about the CamelBak® Got Your Bak™ lifetime guarantee: "If we built it, we'll Bak it™" MSRP: $89 Features: • Hydration Capacity: 100 oz (3 L) • Total Capacity: 732 cu in (12 L) • Antidote™ Reservoir with Quick Link™ System • Back Panel - Air Director™ • Harness - Women's-fit Independent Suspension • Belt- Removable 1 in/25 mm stability Where are you hiking this fall?...Read more...
enigma [ɪˈnɪgmə], noun a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguousLooking for a shell jacket to protect you from all the elements? Continuing to be true to their mantra "Designed for Adventure," Outdoor Research has cranked out some incredible equipment for Fall 2011, and among that line is the Women's Enigma Jacket. The Enigma truly is an enigma- a lightweight yet durable GoreTex shell jacket at a super reasonable price. How often do you find that combo?
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The Details
- Gore-Tex PacLite main body/Gore-Tex 3L Pro Shell fabric on shoulders and arms
- Entirely seam sealed
- Helmet compatible hood
- TorsoFlo™ double-sliding side zippers open fully from hem to armpits
- Two hand pockets with water-resistant zips and two internal stash pockets
- MSRP: $320
- Check out the Enigma Details on YouTube
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The ReviewThe Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket has been a life saver thus far this fall in Alaska. With rain coming in feet, not inches, I'm always grateful to have good gear so that I can continue my outdoor pursuits, no matter the weather. From daily walks with my dog to ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier, the Enigma has kept me nice and dry. I'm looking forward to making it my primary backcountry shell when ski season gets rolling. A word about sizing- the Enigma seems to be built to accommodate layers underneath, which is a great thing. However, if you were thinking about sizing up from your normal size to have room for a few extra layers, don't. You'll be swimming in GoreTex. The Enigma is built with that extra room already in the width and the sleeves, and I have plenty of room for my R1, Patagonia Micropuff or a mid-weight down jacket, and I ordered the same size I would have had I not been planning to layer.
- The full side zips aren't as weird as you'd think they'd be. I've never had a problem with them coming undone from the bottom up as I was concerned I might. I am not sure how much more ventilation I really need than your average pit zip, but the full zip doesn't seem to take away from the design in any way, so why not? I see where it could be nice to be able to fully unzip your sides while wearing a pack, and really get some ventilation.
- Because of the zippers running all the way down the side, the drawcord for the bottom of the jacket actually only runs through the back half of the jacket. Again, seemed weird at first, but I ended up loving the ability to cinch down the bottom of the jacket without the front of the jacket looking like a rumpled mess.
- The PacLite/ProShell combo makes this jacket lightweight yet bomber.
- A great value at $320. Most other companies are charging in excess of $400 for their GoreTex shells, some even more than $450. For much less, you get a solid jacket with all the features that you need in a shell.
- The pockets are not made of GoreTex material. So, if it's pouring rain and blowing sideways, and you think you'll warm your hands up by putting them in your pockets, well, you'll wish you hadn't. Though the zippers are water resistant, and the direct interior of the pocket has a small strip of GoreTex, the rest of the pocket is mesh. If precipitation is coming in from any direction besides straight down, you'll find the inside of your jacket a bit wet if you've used the pockets. It was never a problem for quick "in and out" trips into the pockets, but the few times I went to stash my hands to avoid moisture and cold temps, the lovely Alaska fall weather (read: feet of rain and blowing wind) found its way right inside my jacket.
Bottom LineA GoreTex Proshell/PacLite hybrid that keeps you dry for a decent price.
Check It OutOutdoor Research Enigma Jacket... Read more...
As a beginner to intermediate mountain biker buying a new bike can be a daunting process, especially as a female rider. Thankfully Specialized has a female specific line to choose from which includes a 29-er and a handful of bikes that won't break the bank. The Myka Expert HT 29er was made with the female rider in mind.
Some companies make smaller versions of men’s bikes. Other companies simply change the frame color. But Specialized focuses on real rider needs, using anthropometric research and feedback from female riders to create mountain bikes that improve fit, efficiency, and confidence.Review: 29er’s aren’t just for the guys – ladies can ride them too and Specialized made one that fits just right. At 5’5” and about 130 I was on the fence, but after the first ride I was sold. Living in Tahoe there’s a plethora of trails to enjoy from beginner to advanced. During the first ride I noticed the right shifter for the Shimano hydraulic brakes was defective. The next day I took the bike back to Sports LTD and they took care of it. Within 24 hours I was back on the trail. After riding a few trails near the house it was time for a true test, off to the Flume Trail I went. The first four miles are up hill with varying pitches. I quickly noticed how much faster and easier it was climbing with a 29er compared to 26-inch bike. Initially the integrated headset's super-low stack height, combined with the 80-millimeter-travel fork and flat handlebar, would kept the front end low while grounding the front wheel, but during steeper sections of the climb it felt a bit poppy. This could be user error. The wheelbase is in line with what you would find on a 26-inch bike making the bike very agile. A short wheelbase allows ample stand over for those concerned without compromising the handling. With confidence in both handling and control there wasn't any concern heading downhill. However, this hardtail was made more for x-country riding than downhill. What goes up must come down. The flume trail is sandy, rocky and firm. With that said, the Myka was stable on the downhill. Feeling confidant in the bike I picked up some speed right as I hit soft sand -- the bike got a bit squirrelly, but after shifting weight it road out like a champ. Again the bike felt agile and the front shock worked shockingly well for a lower end fork. MSRP: $1,250 Features:
- Fully butted, smooth-welded M4 alloy 29er frame with women's recreational XC geometry delivers a confident and lightweight ride, with integrated headset for precision handling
- RockShox Tora 80mm-travel 29" fork with rebound/preload adjustment, lockout, and custom women's-specific spring weights delivers more versatility and tunability over varying terrain
- Light and durable double-walled 29" alloy rims are tough enough to handle the rough stuff
- All-terrain 29" Captain Control tires are 2Bliss ready and built for speed on the trail
- Shimano crankset with forged alloy arms and Octalink-splined BB interface means greater durability and better shifting performance
- Shimano dual-piston hydraulic disc brakes/levers assure solid, worry-free braking performance under any conditions
- Body Geometry Women's Riva MTB saddle combines generous padding and durable scuff guards for all-day performance and comfort
Spring and Fall are some of my favorite seasons for one specific reason- new gear! The shoulder seasons always signal a plethora of new equipment coming out from my favorite companies, and Keen is no exception. This Fall, I'll be testing out a pair of Keen Women's Delta Boots.
- Waterproof, insulated hiking boot
- 4mm lug soles with dual climate rubber
- MSRP: $130
First ImpressionsThe Delta looks like a solid boot! Specifically, the multidirectional lug sole looks burly. Might be enough to tackle the mud season up here in Alaska, which is in full force right now. Looks like it will make a great mid-range boot. You know those hikes you go on where you want something more than a trail runner, but definitely don't need to bust out your steel shank ice climbing/mountaineering boots? The Delta seems to bridge that gap in my shoe collection (Gasp. Yes. There is a gap in my shoe collection). I'm stoked to take the Delta out in the ever-cooling temps up here in Alaska, and see how it holds up in the mud and rain!
Check it OutKeen Women's Delta Hiking Boot... Read more...
Specialized. The Big S. Everyone knows they make phenomenal bikes, but are you familiar with their clothing lines? Specialized not only makes bike gloves, helmets and bike accessories, but they also make some great biking clothes. This summer, on my bike trip, I've been testing the Specialized BG SL Cycling Shorts and the Specialized Trail Shorts. 6 weeks is a long time to spend alternating between 2 pairs of shorts, but I think the Specialized brand is up to the challenge. Years ago, I purchased my first pair of bike shorts. I walked into REI, tried on the first pair I saw, and they worked (or so I thought). Because I am a creature of habit (and because I hate shopping), I purchased the same exact pair of shorts for the next several years. As I wore through one pair, I would wait til that same pair went on sale, and then purchase the same one. If this is you, I am going to make a suggestion- don't do it. Bike short technology has evolved so much over the past few years, you won't believe the world of comfort you are missing out on. As I tried on the Specialized BG SL shorts for the first time, I realized my standards for comfortable shorts were evolving.
Specialized BG SL Women's Cycling Shorts Details
- Body Geometry chamois uses dual density foam, with extra padding where you need it, and lightweight padding extending to your inner thighs to prevent friction as your pedal.
- Fieldsensor fabric is lightweight, thin and breathable, with great wicking abilities.
- Mesh panels integrated throughout make the shorts even more breathable
- Wide, women's specific waistband- comfortable and doesn't bunch up.
- Silicon detail on inner hem of shorts- keeps the shorts in place.
Specialized BG SL Women's Cycling Shorts ReviewThroughout my bike trip, I've been alternating between the BG SL shorts and the Trail shorts, and I'm a fan of both, with each having areas they excel at. At first glance, the chamois looks massive, but due to the dual density foam, it doesn't feel that way when you're riding. so long as it's situated in the right spot. The chamois thins out by your thighs, so it's comfortable but doesn't feel like you're wearing a diaper- don't let the appearance fool you. The length is a bit longer than the last pair of short I owned, but it's growing on me. The 9 inch inseam seems to keep the bottom of the shorts at a comfortable place on my thigh. Only problem is the difference in length between the Trail shorts and these... How am I supposed to acquire the sweet cyclist tan line with two differing lengths of shorts? The best feature of the BG SL shorts is by far the lightweight material with which they are constructed. On warmer days, I was still comfortable with the shorts on, and the material feels like you're wearing next to nothing.
- Super comfortable when you've got the chamois in the right spot
- Lightweight and very breathable- after miles of riding, you'll find yourself cool and dry
- The wide waistband is one of my favorite features. It sits comfortably around your hips, and keeps you from getting an unsightly "muffin top", which seems to happen frequently with my other shorts, despite me being in relatively decent shape.
- $125 for a pair of bike shorts. Ouch. Even with all the functional features and great fit. Ouch.
- That technical chamois can be a pain in the butt, no pun intended. With that specifically crafted, dual density foam can be fantastic if you've got it all situated in the right spot, it can be as awful as it is awesome if you get it out of alignment. When I first purchased the shorts, micro adjusts on the bike, which I was doing frequently on my 60+ mile days of my trip, would throw the whole thing out of whack, and suddenly I had chamois wedged where I did NOT want it. Suddenly there was high density foam wedged in unsightly places and no padding where I did in fact want some. However, with time, this problem seems to be going away. I've broken the shorts in a bit now, and they seem to find the right spot and stay there, making the whole ride super comfortable.
Bottom LineA well designed pair of cycling shorts that breathes fantastically while you ride with a spendy price tag.
Buy NowDoesn't look like any of our retailers are carrying these shorts, but you can score them here on the Specialized Website ... Read more...
Merrell has always been in the business of making great shoes. Recently, they've delved into the world of apparel as well, but that doesn't mean they've left behind their first love, footwear. They've continued to crank out quality footwear, including the new Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Shoes.
Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Specs
- Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution keeps the stink at bay
- Merrell QForm® Comfort midsole provides women's specific stride-sequenced cushioning
- Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- 4.5mm sole lug depth
- Vibram® Chameleon Arc 2 Sole / TC5+ Rubber
- MSRP: $110
Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch ReviewThe Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch (whew... That's a mouthful! Think I'm just going to call them the Chameleons for now) function great as a crossover shoe from hiking to trail running. Though intended as a light hiker, you can blast off for a few miles of running along the trail and feel comfortable knowing that the Chameleons will provide you enough support, breathability and flexibility to get the job done. I've also taken them on a few "hike and bike" epics, and I enjoyed the lugged sole for use on my platform pedals on the mountain bike. A great feature of the Chameleons is the Q-form mid sole. This provides a different type of cushioning in the midsole of the shoe, based on the idea that a woman's strides is different than a man's, therefore necessitating a different cushion pattern. Rather than me trying to explain it and floundering, here's Megan from Merrell giving you the QForm run down.
- "Toothy" 4.5mm lug sole provides lots of traction.
- Transition easily from running to hiking in these shoes and don't worry about not having enough support or about them being too heavy. Perhaps this ease of transition is where the Chameleon name came from?
- Not stinky yet!
- Comfortable right out of the box- no break in time required for me! The QForm midsole really does provide a cushioned stride pattern, keeping your feet happy throughout your whole hike.
- The elastic lacing system takes some finessing. Because it is elastic, it's really easy to over or under tighten. After you've got it maneuvered within the eyelets, it's not too bad, but it does require some initial patience and occasional readjusting.
- Because of the give in the elastic, varied terrain becomes a challenge. To tighten them up enough to stay on, you're essentially cutting off circulation to your feet. However, loosen them, and they become like a pair of hiking Danskos, where your heel slips out or the side of your foot moves around as your on varied terrain.
Bottom lineThe Chameleons are great for light hiking or light running. Highly varied terrain (steep, scree-filled or mild scrambling) is out due to the elastic lacing and how much your foot moves. Use these guys for the lighter hiking days when you know you've got consistent terrain and you're stoked. Check 'em out: Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Shoes... Read more...
Like many women I love shoes but most of all I love slip-ons. So, when Patagonia deemed the Advocate as the ultimate travel shoe I knew they were a must have. Once they arrived, I eagerly opened the box cut off the tags and slipped them on. The first time I tried on the Advocate I struggled a bit, but once they were on they felt nice and snug around my feet. They're extremely lightweight at only 4 oz and feel as though you're not wearing shoes. The one thing that didn't feel right was the extra room in the toe box. Although, I wasn't stoked on the extra room I figured it was something I could live with as it wasn't too bad. A few months later it seemed as though the toe box became even roomier. One could contribute the roomy toe box to the fact the shoe isn't available in half sizes. So unless you're a true 7, 8, 9 etc you'll most likely experience some extra toe space. Patagonia's ultra lightweight Advocate could have been this girl’s favorite travel, camping or just around town slip-on shoe but today the shoes live in my gym bag and only see the light of day after yoga. Patagonia Women’s Advocate Shoe Details
- Durable, super soft synthetic leather upper
- 20% EVA anatomical footbed provides cushioning, comfort and support; 2 mm 15% recycled EVA insole provides extra cushioning
- Lateral and medial elastic stretch bands provide comfort and easy on-off
- Rear pull loop provides easy on and off
- Armadillo sole provides traction and durability
- Available in six colors
- MSRP - $55
- Not smelly after an 8 hour day
- Partnered with 1% For The Planet®
- The Fit
- Not available in half sizes ( I’m either 6 ½ or 7, depending on the brand, and opted for the 7)
Looking for a jacket to keep the chill out on your run that you can also wear out to dinner? The Merrell Phoebe meshes a functional Merrell OptiWick-treated liner with a stylish cotton "burnout" style pattern exterior, keeping you dry and stylin' while doing it. A lightweight zip-up jacket, the Merrell Phoebe will surely find a spot in your closet in one of the four stylish colors that it's available in!
Merrell Phoebe Jacket Specs
- Polyester interior treated with Merrell OptiWick
- UPF fabric on exterior
- Side hand pockets
- "Burnout" pattern and smocking add style
- MSRP: $89
Merrell Phoebe Jacket ReviewFor after yoga, during a quick run, or just to run to the grocery store, the Phoebe is a lightweight cotton/poly blend jacket that has you covered. The Phoebe has 2 layers- an inner, polyester interior treated with Merrell OptiWick technology. This functions as a "wicking" layer, which draws moisture away from your skin as you sweat. The outer layer is a soft cotton/poly blend that comes in a variety of colors in a "burnout" pattern, so you don't have to look like you've just finished a run, even if you have. My favorite color? The charcoal. Matches everything I own and isn't too bright for my style. The inner/outer layer hybrid makes the jacket warmer than your average cotton zip-up, but it's still fairly lightweight. I like it as a layering piece on the cooler days, or for some lightweight insulation as I bike to the gym in the mornings. A comment about sizing: I'm normally a size small in Merrell's jackets, but I almost could have gone with an extra small in the Phoebe. It was a little bigger than I was expecting in every area but the sleeves. Keep that in mind when ordering- it's a relatively loose fitting zip up.
- OptiWick fabric does a great job of keeping you dry if you wear this during activity or just after.
- Available in 4 stylish patterns
- Big front pockets allow room for keys, cell phone, whatever you need!
- No hood, which makes the Phoebe classy enough for me to wear to work on cooler days without looking like I'm wearing a piece of technical clothing.
- Sleeves are a bit short, and much bigger than I was expecting. The cuff is tight but the sleeves are loose, creating an unexpected poofy feeling.
Buy NowMerrell Phoebe Jacket... Read more...
Outdoor Research continues to design and produce products that are "designed by adventure" with their new line of Echo Synthetic T-Shirts. Available in a long sleeve or short sleeve version, the Echo is a great lightweight, wicking piece that can be worn independently in warm weather or layered on those chillier days. I wore the Echo L/S on a few runs and bike rides around AK, and it was great in 45-50 degree temps while I was active. After about a month of use, the Echo doesn't stink yet! I'm still biased towards wool when it comes to the stench argument (which is why I love the Outdoor Research Essence Tee so much- the wool mix keeps it stink free), but the Echo is holding its own thus far.
Outdoor Research Echo L/S Tee Specs
- Lightweight polyester AirVent fabric with polygiene odor controls keeps you dry and relatively stink free.
- Hidden pocket with "media port" on side of shirt
- Flatlock stitching
- MSRP $39.95
- Super lightweight. Feels like you're wearing nothing.
- Offers some UV protection (UPF 15) while still being very thin.
- Flatlock stitching keeps chafing to a minimum for those long, active days.
- The media pocket is a nice idea, but I find that for running, my iPod wiggles around and eventually worked its way out of it. For more low impact activities, it sat right where the hip belt for my pack wanted to sit. I didn't end up using it too much, except for biking, where it was nice to have.
Buy NowOutdoor Research Echo L/S Shirt... Read more...
Practicing yoga is a great way to strengthen your body, gain flexibility and center your mind. I understand sometimes it's hard to stretch after a long day, but joining a yoga class might just do the trick. You can't deny the powers of yoga and the zen you feel after an hour class. After a year plus hiatus, I recently started practicing yoga again and I feel great. We buy specific mats, straps, and blocks for yoga so why not yoga inspired apparel? When buying yoga apparel, keep in mind the style of yoga you plan to practice. Unsure brush up on your Yoga 101. Three things to keep in mind when choosing yoga apparel:
- You'll want quick dry or moisture wicking items, especially for hot or bikram yoga
- Nothing TOO baggy, look for snug to loose fits
- Fabrics that stretch allowing you to easily move from pose to pose.
- dyed cotton jersey
- Novelty wash treatment
- Center front zipper
- Shirring at front neckline
- 92 Organic Cotton / 8 Spandex
- Organic cotton/Tencel fabric with a touch of spandex for stretch and performance
- Racerback tank with a feminine twist at center front
- Full shelf bra for active support
- Wide waistband sits snugly on hips
- 6.1-oz 54% organic cotton/41% Tencel®/5% spandex jersey. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- The ultimate medium rise, slim fit crop - ideal for yoga, gym, bootcamp, or Pilates
- Luon®, our signature fabric: breathable with coverage, cotton-feel, 4-way stretch providing support and allowing freedom of movement
- Smooth, flat waistband
- Gusset designed for greater range of movement & comfort
- Waistband inner stash pocket to secure $ & keys
- Flat seamed for chafe resistance & comfort
April showers bring May flowers and it’s raining jackets here at Gear.com. Like a good pair of snow boots a good rain jacket is another staple every woman should have. Rain jackets have come a long way and there are various styles and colors to pick from. First things first, figure out what you’ll be doing the majority of the time wearing the jacket (i.e. shopping, traveling, trekking, etc). Once you have it narrowed down you'll be able to find a style which works best for you. If you’re an around town type of gal then I recommend the trench style. However, if you’re planning on trekking through the rain forest then maybe a classic style is up your alley. I'm practical and go for the classic style. Just because classic is very functional doesn't mean you can’t be fashionable by playing up the color. Check out my Top 3 picks and stay dry this Spring. 3. Women’s Precip Jacket by Marmot The Precip Jacket is affordable, stylish, and packs down into the pocket. Who doesn't want a jacket that packs down to nothing?! Take this classic jacket from everyday life to the backcountry. Pit zips are a must if you plan on trekking or hiking and the Precip wont disappoint. Since it’s available in sixteen colors no need to worry about your BFF sporting the same color! Sport either a two tone or solid color this season, I’m diggin the ultra violet/light violet and everglade. MSRP: $99 Jacket Features
- PreCip® Dry Touch Technology, Waterproof/Breathable - Waterproof / Breathable
- 100% Seam Taped - For Full Waterproofness
- Full Visibility Roll-Up Hood with Integral Collar
- PitZips™ - Underarm Zip That Extends Into the Body for Aggressive Venting
- Pack Pockets™ - Slanted Chests Pockets That Can Be Accessed While Wearing a Pack
- Double Storm Flap Over Zipper with Snap/Velcro® Closure
- Elastic Draw Cord Hem - For Adjustability in Serious Weather
- DriClime® Lined Chin Guard - Moisture Wicking Fabric Protects Your Face From the Zipper
- Angel-Wing Movement™ - Allows Full Range of Motion in Arms so Jacket Doesn't Ride Up
- Waterproof, breathable, seam sealed
- Adjustable, removable hood
- Center front two-way zip
- Two flap-closure chest pockets
- Two hand pockets
- Removable waist belt
- Internal media pocket
- Zip sleeve gussets
- 2.5-layer nylon ripstop shell with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- 2-way-adjustable hood with laminated visor rolls down and stows
- Microfleece-lined neck for comfort and enhanced protection of waterproof/breathable barrier
- Center-front zipper has exterior and interior storm flaps to keep water out; pit zips with storm flaps and Deluge DWR-treated zippers
- Self-fabric hook-and-loop cuff closures
- Pockets: two handwarmers, one internal mesh drop-in
- Drawcord hem; packs into zippered self-storage pocket
- 2.5-layer, 2.6-oz 50-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
The quest continues. For the 3rd year in a row, I look for the perfect alpine touring boot. Having tried out the Black Diamond Shivas, the Black Diamond Swifts, and the Scarpa Divas, I find myself becoming somewhat of a boot aficionado. This year's endeavor? The Scarpa Shakas. Anyone remember the Skookums? These are a newer, Women's specific version of that same boot. Just as stiff, just a burly, but with a women's specific fit. Here's the rundown:
Scarpa Shaka Features
- Buckles: 4 + Active Power Strap
- Liners: Intuition Speed Pro Womens Liners
- Sole: Skywalk Active Sole
- Weight (sz 25): 3lbs 10oz for one boot
- Binding Compatibility: Alpine Touring and TLT (Dynafit and G3 Onyx/Ruby)
- Forward Lean: 19-23 degrees
- Flex Index: 110 with Ski Tongue, 90 with walk tongue
- MSRP: $719
Scarpa Shaka ReviewOf this year's Scarpa Women's alpine touring boot line, the Scarpa Shaka is built to be the "burlier" of the two available boots, with an emphasis on its versatility between inbounds and outbounds skiing while still being fairly lightweight (looking for the lighter, more touring oriented boot? Stop here and check out the Scarpa Gea). I've had the opportunity to ski the boot both in bounds and for some resort days, and Scarpa has hit a nice mix with the Shaka. The Shaka is a more "touring oriented" boot in the sense that it is not the traditional alpine-wrap style boot, and comes with both a "Ski Tongue," which makes the boot a stiffer 110 flex, and a "Walk Tongue," a 90 flex, intended for longer tours. I had a chance to ski the boot with both. The touring tongue, while offering less resistance for longer tours, creates an unusual flex patter in the boot when skiing down, and seems to "bottom out" at a certain point while flexing. This occurs when you've flexed the boot to the point where the bottom ankle buckle and top over-the-foot buckle hit each other due to lack of support in the tongue. I am not an aggressive skier by any means, but still found it easy to overflex the boot with the touring tongue. However, the boot performs much better with the "Ski Tongue" installed (imagine that... the Ski tongue skis better!). Though the touring is not quite as easy, for day tours, it's certainly manageable. I'd say the trade off of increased resistance when touring is worth the significantly increased flex pattern that the boot offers when skiing with the stiffer tongue. I skied the Shaka in bounds for some Tram laps at Alyeska and felt like it performed just as well as my Alpine boots- handled the crud well and was responsive. The Shaka has many of the same features as the old Skookum- the active power strap above the 4th buckle really does act as a 5th buckle, providing more support than your average power strap. It's wider and thicker, creating that much more support for you as you flex the boot. It also has a movable spoiler on the rear of the boot, which is a nice feature for those of us with mondo calves- you can move the spoiler down so as to not completely cut off circulation to your feet by crushing your calf muscle. Or, for those of you who like a bit more height in the back, you can add that by moving the spoiler up. The Shaka also has the same "power ribs" along the back of the boot, intended to give it even more stability and burl. Despite all these features, the Shaka manages to keep it's weight down at an impressive 3lbs 10oz for 1 boot (sz 25). Not bad! The lighter Scarpa Gea weighs in at 2lbs 15oz. So, we're talking a difference of just over a half a pound per boot. Now, the most important part- the fit. The Shakas are ideal for people with high volume feet. The toe box is wide, the heel is wide, and there is a lot of general space in that shell. This, for me, was a deal breaker with this otherwise well constructed boot. I have a narrower heel, so even with a good Thermomold of the liners and a butterfly foam pad on the back, my heels were a-movin' in these boots, which made touring difficult without wrenching down all the buckles. However, if you're a lady with a higher volume, wider foot, this is the way to go! Scarpa has made a solid boot that skis well and tours well, and if the fit is right, you're stoked.
- Burly yet lightweight boot
- Comes with Intuition Liners, hands down the best liners on the market.
- The idea of a "touring" tongue is well intended, but it doesn't ski well. Stick with the Ski Tongue for performance, even if it means more difficult touring.
Bottom LineThe Shaka charges like an alpine boot on resort days and is still light enough to be your regular backcountry boot. Buy Now: Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot... Read more...
Beacon- check. Probe- check. Shovel- check. Compact and lightweight, the G3 SpadeTECH Elle Shovel is the one for you if you're a sidecountry skier who makes sure to take all the correct equipment with you each time you head out, and you're tired of fighting to get your pack zipped because your shovel is too big!
Details: G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel
- Compact Size- The SpadeTECH Elle Shovel was designed for female skiers, who usually have smaller packs. The size allows you to fit it inside your smaller pack, and not have fight with your zipper to ensure that it closes.
- T Handle- Easy to grip, the handle was ergonomically designed so that it's easier to hold.
- Reduced Blade Size- Aimed at being a more efficient shoveler as opposed to just using brute force.
- Handle and blade detach. This seems like such a simple feature, yet I can think of a few shovels that don't have it, which is an even bigger pain for fitting the shovel into your pack!
- Material- Durable yet lightweight aluminum. Never ever ever would I purchase a plastic shovel- I don't care how durable the manufacturer says it is. Plastic snaps. G3 has it right by making their shovels out of aluminum.
Bottom Line: G3 SpadeTech Elle ShovelIf you're an occasional backcountry or sidecountry female user who is tired of trying to jam that huge shovel into your daypack, this is a perfect solution. It's lightweight, durable, easy to assemble and comfortable to shovel with- a great choice for lots of female skiers out there! You'll actually be able to close your daypack with this one, as opposed to having your shovel blade sticking out the top. It'd also function fantastically as a mountaineering shovel- great for digging out a tent platform. However, if you're an avid backcountry user, conducting snow studies and practicing avalanche burial and recovery scenarios on a regular basis, I'd say that opting for G3s AviTech shovel is a better choice if you're only going to own 1 shovel. Its larger blade makes for more efficient shoveling and a better platform for snow studies. While it's bigger that the SpadeTECH Elle, I'd say that size difference is a bonus. The pack I carry for most all tours, day or week long, is big enough to accommodate a large shovel. Compression tests in facet-y snow are more difficult with the SpadeTech Elle shovel, since the blade's surface area doesn't cover the entire area of the column you'd be isolating. If you have proper shovel technique, you're going to move more snow with a larger blade than a smaller one for rescues. That being said, sometimes it's nice to have that smaller shovel for sidecountry days. Having options never hurt anyone, and I'll definitely take my SpadeTECH Elle on those days. Big backcountry days, I'll still reach for a larger shovel. So, be sure to assess your shovel needs- if you're an occasional user, or looking for a versatile shovel that you can use in the backcountry and also as a mountaineering shovel, the SpadeTECH Elle shovel is definitely the way to go. Lighter, fits in your pack, and, as a bonus, the graphics match the G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins. Who says you can't kick backcountry a@$ and look good at the same time? If you're a heavy backcountry user looking to conduct regular snow assessments and recovery scenarios, look more towards the G3 AviTECH shovel.
Buy NowAre you diggin' it? Pick up a G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel today!... Read more...
Spring has officially sprung, although in some parts of the country old man winter is still hanging around. When the seasons change typically you'll find me lusting over the latest gear. A good rule of thumb is to go through what you have and donate a few things to make room for a few new pieces. Trying to pare down a Top 3 list for Spring wasn't an easy task, there's a ton of new gear to be had out there. You'll find my picks are everyday life staples for Spring and beyond. 3. Scrunchie Tote from Timbuk2 MSRP: $80
- Because one can never have too many bags. Ladies you can relate, each bag has a different purpose in life and the Scrunchie Tote is one of those GREAT everyday bags. Since it's from Timbuk2 I can guarantee you'll get miles out of this bag. Although, I'm not too keen on the name as it reminds me of the 80's hair scrunchie, it's still a perfect fit for ladies on the go. So what would I use it for you ask? Everything! Work, gym, farmer’s market, carry-on and so much more. It's too new for fun funky colors, but I'm digging on potrero as it's sure to match any outfit.
- A roomy all-around gear bag that cradles your yoga mat and looks good doing it.
- Refined weave ballistic nylon exterior with a stylish printed graphic liner.
- Exterior slash pockets for quick access and hidden zipper pocket for safe keeping.
- Waterproof TPU base so your gear stays dry, even on a damp gym floor.
- Key tether to keep you locked in.
- Zip top closure gives you the option to be super secure or casually closed.
- Living in Tahoe you can’t leave the house without your trusty sunglasses. It’s also handy to have sunglasses for specific occasions. The Smith Aura is more of the fun weekend warrior type. They're also not only functional but fashionable. Remember I usually opt for functional fashion. Wear them on a boat or cruising down the boardwalk with your pals. I'm digging the stone frame with a brown gradient lens for Spring.
- Anti-Reflective and Hydrophobic Lens Coating
- Medium Fit/Medium Coverage
- Techlite Polarized Glass TLT Lenses
- Stainless Steel Spring Hinges
- An oldie but a goodie, the Women's Rain Shadow Jacket is a lightweight jacket every woman should have in their closet. It packets down to a small ball making it easy to throw in your Timbuk2 Scrunchie Tote when weather calls for rain showers. Roomy enough to layer over a sweatshirt on colder days without it being bulky. I purchased this jacket for my trip to Central America with the idea of trekking through rain forests and hanging at beach for three weeks. It kept me dry and warm. Today, I wear my Rain Shadow Jacket around town and while hiking. This is the jacket for you if you're looking for something lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. Make a statement with color, I’m digging on the prickly pear for 2011.
- Lightweight - 10.9 oz
- waterproof/breathable H2No barrier and Deluge DWR
- Roll-down, 2-way-adjustable hood with a laminated visor improves hood structure and visibility
- Microfleece-lined neck and chin for comfort
- All exterior zippers and pit zips are watertight, coated and treated with a Deluge DWR
No one likes to be that person at the car who's fumbling with their skins when the rest of the crew is ready to hit the trail. Rest assured, with Genuine Guide Gear's Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins, that won't be you. I hate being the one who holds things up , (and worse, being the girl that's holding things up) struggling to rip skins apart, and bouncing from one friend to another, each grabbing and end of your perma-stuck climbing skins and pulling for dear life, only to result in someone losing their grip and landing on their behind. We've all been there. Well, maybe not all of us. Those lucky people who bought G3's climbing skins as their first pair probably haven't been down this embarrassing road. With G3's RipStrip Technology and non-toxic, solvent free adhesive, they've achieved the finite balance in all things sticky- sticks to the skins and to each other when we need it to, comes off/apart easily when we don't. Add a laminated tail strap and a revolutionary tip connector and the single best skin trimming tool on the market and you've got one hell of a product. For those of you who read my initial review of the Alpinist elle skins, you know they had me with their skin trimming tool. Easy to use, no repositioning required; it is amazing. Even if the skin itself didn't outperform my others, I would have been a convert for life, just for the ease of trimming. However, the details that G3 addresses in their skin make sure that after you're converted, you're just as satisfied as you were right after trimming that first edge.
Details: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing Skin
- Synthetic plush skin with a non-toxic, solvent free adhesive and integrated RipStrip Technology- The RipStrip is what keeps you from struggling to get the skins off your skis or off each other, reducing skin to skin adhesion. They still have plenty of stick when you need it, but no more fumbling to get them apart!
- Tip Connector- No more tip loops! If you've got a square edged ski like me (I've been riding the Moment Reagans this season), this will be the only skin that actually functions for you. The pivoting steel heads have the lowest profile of any skin connection out there, and once they're on, they're not moving. For those of us with those square edged skis- regular tip loops won't work, since there's no taper at the end of the ski. The pivoting tip connectors of the Alpinist Elle Skins allow you to turn them and toss the skin right on- no post factory modification involving duct tape required!
- Tail Connector- Instead of adjusting your metal clamp portion once, and then snapping it on and off the ski each time (which results in some unslightly loss of ski graphics at the tail of your ski), this tail connector has a fluid metal tooth that you bring to the ski each time, and then pull tight on the plastic tail strap. To remove, instead of snapping off the metal tooth, you release the tension on the tail strap, and then the metal tooth can be freely moved away from your skin. This took some getting used to, but in the end, it seems significantly more secure, and damages the end of my ski less. The tail connector is also laminated into the skin itself, so no worries about rivets coming undone and losing a tail piece.
- Sizing- Skins come in sizes from Extra Short to Extra Long, accommodating skis from 153cm to 199cm. Each length comes in widths that range from 70mm to 140mm. Price ranges according to skin length and width.
- Skin Trimming Tool- Don't believe me when I say it's the best one out there? Check out this video from G3.
Bottom Line: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing SkinsG3 has nailed it. Lightweight, easy to rip apart, innovative tip connectors and a rad skin trimming tool. It glides well, folds up to be nice and small (stuffs easily into the front of my size small shell jacket for the ski down) and seems to be holding up well.
Buy Now: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing SkinsTrim a new pair and never look back with your Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins. Dudes, looking for the same amazing technology but not such a pretty pattern? Check out the Alpinist Climbing Skins. Same great features but without the "Elle" and sweet blue skin graphics.... Read more...
Backcountry season should be ramping within the next few weeks here in AK, and I'll be testing out some Genuine Guide Gear (G3) women's specific skins and shovel all throughout the Chugach Range. My skins and shovel arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I just had a chance to cut my skins- while the full review will come later, so far, I've been really impressed. After only owning Black Diamond climbing skins for years, when my new G3 skins arrived, I left them in the box for a few days, dreading the disaster that is skin cutting. Lay the skin down, cut one side, move it, cut the other, curse when you haven't gotten it exactly even, leave to have a few beverages, come back and still be frustrated with the fact that the skins aren't totally even and you've wasted an entire evening on such a simple procedure. This couldn't have been further from the truth with my G3 skins. Their skin trimming tool ROCKS. Yes, that's right, ROCKS. In all capital letters. It's that good. They've designed a tool that allows you to lay the skin down once, trim both sides without moving it, and, oh yes, leave the exact correct amount of edge showing. Check it out! [gallery] Be sure to look for a full review of both the Alpinist Elle Skins and the SpadeTECH Elle Shovel in a little bit. For now, check out Gear.com's selection of G3 gear, and dream of cutting your skins with ease....Read more...
Hi Tiara here. As the resident Mountainista, I pride myself in finding comfortable, functional, and most importantly stylish outdoor gear. When it comes to shoes I've found women tend to sacrifice either comfort or fashion. Ladies you know what I’m talking about. Well long gone are the days of sacrificing fashion for function. Companies such as Sorel, The North Face, Merrell, Columbia, Keen, and Patagonia have started manufacturing fashionable and functional snow/winter boots for women. Because your feet will love you, here are my top three: 3. ) The North Face - Women's Abby Chukka Face it who doesn’t like a touch of fur? Warm, stylish and functional is the theme, right? The Abby Chukka is here to please your feet and your style. Available in three color options, these cozy and easy to slip on booties are great for running errands or Après drinks after a day on the mountain. The North Face added stylish heel straps and a few snowflake details on the side of the boot. Abby Chukka's are classic, fun and here to stay. MSRP: $135 Abby Chukka Features:
- 200 g PrimaLoft® Eco insulation
- Plush faux fur lining
- Waterproof, pull-on construction for easy on/off
- Northotic™, compression-molded, dual-density, internal midsole with 3/4 length nylon shank
- Durable TNF Winter Grip™ rubber outsole with Ice Pick™ temperature-sensitive snowflake lugs
- Seam-sealed waterproof construction
- Waterproof full-grain leather upper
- 100g Thinsulate™ insulation with 3mm felt lining
- Traction-enhancing multi-directional rubber outsole
The Merrell Tetra Strap Waterproof boot is not only my top pick for your non-traditional snow/winter boot but, my personal go to winter boot when I'm not wearing my Sorel's (used for deep powder days). The stylish, comfortable and functional equestrian-inspired Tetra Strap boot should be a staple in every woman's wardrobe. Wear these boots to the office or out on the town. They will keep your feet cozy, dry, and stylish.[caption id="attachment_103885" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Merrell Tetra Strap "][/caption] MSRP: $170 Tetra Strap Waterproof Features: UPPER/LINING
- Cement construction provides lightweight durability
- Merrell Weather-Tight™ construction provide a water resistant barrier
- Full grain leather upper
- Merrell Weather-Tight™ construction provide a water resistant barrier
- Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
- Microfiber wrapped footbed that’s soft to the touch and treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
- Molded nylon arch shank
- Merrell QForm® Comfort provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning
- Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- Merrell Tetra II Sole/Sticky Rubber
Scarpa's new women's AT boot, the Shaka, is in for the ride of its life up here in AK. An unusually rainy winter, with temp fluctuations and rain crusts galore, the ski season in AK has been variable, to say the least. I'm looking forward to testing the Shakas out and seeing how they perform in both varied touring and skiing conditions. Of the two new women's ski boots Scarpa has released this season, the Shaka is the burlier of the two, boasting incredible skiing ability while still being lightweight. The Shakas come with both ski and touring tongues, making the flex index "flexible," an Alpine Style Intuition Speed Pro ThermoMoldable Liner, a 4 buckle design with a power strap, and Dynafit compatibility. Look for a full review coming soon, but in the mean time, be sure to check out the Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot or other Scarpa Boots here on Gear.com.Read more...
When you wake up to the sound of artillery shells shaking your house and a report of 23 inches of fresh snowy goodness, you know you're getting out of bed and moving quickly. When you look outside and see bluebird skies, you kick it into the next gear, and dress yourself while running for the chairlift, hoping you get those pants buttoned before you run into your buddies in the lift line. As you're grabbing your ski gear essentials, be sure to grab a pair of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings to keep your legs toasty while you're shreddin. The Icebreaker GT line of baselayers takes wool long underwear to the next level. The GT line adds 3% lycra to the high quality merino wool that Icebreaker is known for, which means you've got some stretch and give in your undies. The added Lycra also makes sure that your long underwear will retain its shape, and you won't have to deal with saggy bottoms by the end of the day. The GT line also boasts reflective graphics, so if you want to wear the layers separately for an early morning run, you know people will see you as you flash by.
Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings: The Specs
- Athletic fit baselayer
- 97% New Zealand Merino Wool, 3% Lycra
- GT Express Leggings are available in a 200 weight (lightweight) and a 260 weight (midweight)
- 260 (Midweight) Leggings are ideal as a baselayer for snowsports and cooler temps
- MSRP $100
- Baa Code: Every piece of Icebreaker product comes with a code, which allows it to be traced from sheep to production. Icebreaker prides itself on it sustainable ethics and transparency of production, which is awesome.
Icebreaker GT Express Leggings: The ReviewHave you made the switch from synthetic to wool baselayers yet? In case you're not quite on board, here's the low down: Wool doesn't retain stink, like synthetic fabrics do. We've all got those gnarly synthetic baselayers that no matter how many times you wash them, they will forever smell like you spent 3 years living in the same shirt and not showering... Ok, so, 1 point for wool. The synthetic advocates come back saying yes, we may be stinky, but wool is itchy! Not so with Icebreaker's merino wool blend. Their wool is soft and just as comfortable as any synthetic out there. Score now? Wool 2, Synthetics 0. Here's the kicker though- the fibers in the wool actually work with your body. As you heat up, it wicks more heat and moisture away from your body. When you're cool, it warms your body up. The merino wool's got smarts. Checkin' in with that scoreboard again, I believe we've got Icebreaker Wool at 3, and Synthetics at 0. To give a bit of credit to our plastic amigos, synthetics are certainly less expensive. So, let's call that Wool 3, Synthetics 1. But at the rate you're replacing those smelly synthetics, the initial investment is worth it for the quality, in my opinion. Icebreaker has taken an already phenomenal product with their wool baselayers, and made it even better in the GT line, with the addition of the Lycra. My only complaint with the 1st generation of Icebreaker Baselayers was that they didn't retain their shape as well as the synthetic long underwear I had (yes, yes, I was once a synthetic wearer). With the Lycra spandex, the GT express leggings are a skiers dream for a baselayer. They've got some give, keep you warm, and retain their shape over multiple wears. While I won't have an opportunity to wear the GT Express Leggings as an individual piece for a while (winter's in full swing up here in AK), I look forward to running in them when the temps warm up a bit and the trails thaw. The flatlock stitching and ergonomically designed seaming will come in handy when I'm cranking out the miles. So, this morning, when the artillery shells were shaking my house and I had feet of fresh snow in my front yard, I did reach for my Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings. And yes, I did manage to get my ski pants buttoned before I met up with friends in the lift line. Buy Now! Icebreaker GT 260 Express Legging! Also, be sure to check out Gear.com's selection of Icebreaker gear and the full Icebreaker GT Line!... Read more...
Last week, as we all sat around and ate turkey, I'm sure that conversation about "What are you most thankful for?" came up in many a home. Health, happiness, friends and family made the list for most. As I spent my Thanksgiving mired in 2 feet of fresh snow that mixed in with rain, sleet and yo-yo like temperatures, I found myself thankful for my Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket. The Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket is a 3-in-1 jacket, sporting a down insulative later that can be worn individually, a waterproof breathable shell that can also be worn individually, and the M-Connect System that allows you to wear these both as one lightweight, warm and waterproof jacket when conditions dictate. I primarily used the jacket in its "connected" form, or simply used the inner down layer, and was impressed each time I used it.
Merrell Falconry TriTherm Specs
- 2.5-layer Merrell Opti-Shell: Waterproof, breathable outer shell with 6% elastane, so it's stretchy!
- Inner jacket: 800 fill goose down insulation, so you know you'll be warm
- M-Connect System: Inner and outer jackets connect using this snap-together system
- Fully seam sealed
- Pit zips through both the inner and outer jacket
- MSRP = $498.95
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The GoodNow, no one likes to admit that they stereotype. It's not a super positive aspect of any one's personality. However, when it comes to gear, I think we all do it, to one extent or another. When you think Merrell, what comes to mind? Like many, I immediately think shoes. Awesome, super versatile shoe company. So when Merrell asked me to review their Falconry TriTherm Jacket, I was surprised. I had no idea they were in the business of making "withstand all the elements, keep you warm and keep you dry" outerwear. I was stoked to give it a try! After wearing the Falconry for a little while, here were my favorite features:
- The M-Connect system, which connects the inner insulation with the outer shell, cuts down on bulk. Normal 3-in-1 jackets have a zipper system with about 8 million zippers, which make the jacket bulky and inflexible. The M-Connect system cuts down on that bulk.
- Flexible Shell: The outer shell has some stretch to it, but still maintains that waterproof ability. No more scratchy, stiff shell required.
- Low-down pocket on the arm: If you ski at a resort that has the little RFID cards instead of scannable passes, you know what it's like to be that person with your pass in your upper shoulder, trying to wing yourself back and fourth to get the scanner to read you and open the gates. The arm pocket on the Falconry is by your wrist, so you can just wave your hand to get the gates to open, as opposed to doing that "fully body rubber chicken dance" that we all know. Major bonus points.
- Inner jacket= Super stylish. I love to wear the TriTherm to walk around town, then take off my wet shell when I get inside, but still stay warm with my inner down jacket.
- Lightweight and packable: The shell stows into its own pocket, and 800 fill down makes the inner layer about as light as they come!
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The Bad
- Down is rough for those of us in wet environments, since it loses its insulative qualities when wet. Despite the amazing outer shell, sometimes that inner insulate does get wet. However, it's the down that keeps the jacket light, so it's not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind if you live in a super wet climate.
- I'd love to see a powder skirt on this jacket! Great for skiing on days when you need more warmth, or for those tours when you want an extra layer for the down, but you want a shell only for the up. A powder skirt would make this jacket perfect!
In for review- The Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm Jacket, just in the nick of time! Winter has commenced here in Alaska, and every day brings a new mix of precipitation. Rain then snow, snow then rain, sleet, sun, then on to a rain/snow mixture, with temperatures changing hourly. Needless to say, a perfect place to give the Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm a run for it's money! The Falconry Tri-Therm is a 3-in-1 jacket, sporting a down insulative later that can be worn individually, a waterproof breathable shell that can also be worn individually, and the M-Connect System that allows you to wear these both as one lightweight, warm and waterproof jacket when conditions dictate! Look for a full review coming soon, but in the mean time, be sure to check out the Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm or other Merrell Jackets on Gear.com...Read more...
Outdoor Research boasts that their products are "designed by adventure," and after a summer of using the Helium Jacket, I'd completely agree. Though I didn't climb nearly as much as I normally would this summer, I certainly had several great opportunities to test out the waterproof qualities of jackets- between living on the Oregon coast and my recent move to Alaska, I've had more than my fair share of rain. For my hiking adventures in both Oregon and Alaska, I always had my Outdoor Research Helium Jacket stowed away in the bottom of my pack. Super lightweight and stripped down, the Helium is the perfect addition to the mandatory "oh S*!t" kit for backpacking, hiking and climbing. So light that you don't notice its there until you see the clouds rolling up, the Helium keeps you dry and warm as you finish out that last pitch, get your tent set up, or hike those last few miles back to your car.
Outdoor Research Helium Jacket Features
- Ultralight Pertex Shell Material
- Fully Seam Taped
- Single drawcord hood and hem adjustments
- Small exterior chest pocket
- Stow pocket at side hem, with an added webbing loop for clipping to harnesses, packs, or wherever you need to store it
- Price = $140
Outdoor Research Helium Jacket ReviewThroughout the summer, I had multitudes of opportunities to grab my Helium out of my pack, and throw it on quickly to escape the rain and suddenly plummeting temps. From hiking to backpacking to kayaking, my Outdoor Research Helium Jacket saw a lot of use. The first chance I really got to use my Helium was actually while I was on a kayaking trip- started out beautiful, and then began pouring a few hours into the excursion. Now, I realize that you're supposed to get wet during water-bound adventures, but I didn't relish in the idea of a soggy top half in addition to my already soggy bottom half, so I grabbed my OR Helium out of my dry bag and tossed it on. I loved how lightweight the shell was while still providing great protection from the elements. Since moving to Alaska, I've been out on some great hikes in the Girdwood and Portage areas, and each time I pack up to head out the door, I make sure my Helium is still stuffed down at the bottom of my daypack. When compressed, it is about the size of my fist, and takes up essentially no space. As I get back into rock climbing up here in AK, I am excited to clip this little guy onto my harness. At 6.8oz, it's certainly not going to add any noticeable amount of weight, but will definitely be the difference between a "happy Claire" and a "miserable Claire" when I'm belaying for that last pitch and the clouds that have been threatening to open up all day finally do. The Good
- I love the stow pocket. No more extra stuff sacks to keep track of (or in my case, to lose).
- Webbing loop for clipping to harness. Really, OR thought of everything!
- Helium is a bit longer than your average shell, which is great when you want to toss this on hiking or climbing- it fits under your harness or your pack belt, so it won't ride up. That extra length allows it to stay put no matter what kind of movement you've got going on.
- While I'm normally a fan of velcro closures on sleeves, the Helium has only elastic. I was concerned at first, but after wearing it for a bit, the elastic-only design grew on me, allowing me the freedom to reach up high without getting stuck in the sleeve of my jacket.
- I am a sucker for pockets. I like something to do with my hands, or some place to put them when they're cold. The Helium has one chest pocket, but no place for my hands during those cold belay transitions or snack stops on the trail.
Buy NowOutdoor Research Helium Jacket... Read more...
Living on the coast this summer, I haven't been running as much as I normally do, since I've been surfing every day. However, when I do get around to drying out and getting out of the water, I'll cruise out for a run along the beach in my Moving Comfort Vixen Sports Bra.
Moving Comfort Vixen Sports Bra- Features
- Pullover design
- "Powermesh" back
- Modified racer-back design
- Price = $38.00
Moving Comfort Vixen Sports Bra ReviewAs usual, Moving Comfort has done a great job designing a bra with varying sizes in mind. The Vixen is available in either an A/B cup size or a C/D cup size, and then a full range of sizes (small-x large) in each cup size, so you can be sure that the bra is an all around good fit for you. The Vixen is intended for high impact sports, and provides you with good overall coverage for whatever your choice of sport may be. The "powermesh" back of the bra allows for maximum ventilation, while still providing excellent support on the front end. I keep this bra on hand for running, and occasionally biking. The Vixen also sports some "decorative piping" along the front, which makes for a stylish top that I tend to wear on its own, in warmer weather. The only downside of this pretty addition to the bra is that if you toss a T-shirt on afterwords to head into the grocery store/post office/your errand location of choice, you've got some funny lines running down the front of your shirt! Looks great for those warmer days when all you want to run in is your sports bra though!
Buy Now!Moving Comfort Vixen A/B Sports Bra... Read more...
I'm pretty picky when it comes to running shorts. I will be the first to admit that I've owned one pair for the past several years, and pretty much had no interest in wearing anything but those worn, hot pink, thrift store running shorts. If you're a runner, you understand the special bond you develop with your shorts. There's always that one special pair that fits better than the rest, sits just right on your waist, and is downright comfortable. So, when I finally ripped my beloved pink shorts in the washing machine, my world was rocked. However, right about that same time Moving Comfort asked me to test out their Sprint Short, so thankfully I had something else to fill the void that my pink shorts left behind. The Moving Comfort Sprint Short is a lightweight, low rise, semi-fitted running short with some great features. I've used mine for both short runs around Pete's Hill, a favorite dog romping/people running location up here in Bozeman, MT, and also for longer trail runs up further into the mountains of Montana.
Moving Comfort Spring Short- The Specs
- Material- Hybrid between a stretch recycled polyester and a mesh strip sewn down each side.
- Pockets Galore! The Sprint Shorts come with an exterior pocket on each side, plus an interior hide-a-key pocket.
- Drawstring waist- in addition to the elastic waistband, the Sprint Short comes with a drawstring waist to make sure they stay put.
- Reflective trim- great for the dawn and dusk runs.
- Does come with a "brief liner," my only dislike. However, I don't like those in any shorts, so that's not anything I'd hold against the Sprint Shorts.
Moving Comfort Spring Short- Fit Information
- True to size for waist measurements.
- Slightly fitted design means these shorts are a bit tighter around the thighs than I'm used to. They still fit, but be aware that they're not super loose like your standard nylon running short.
- 3 inch inseam
Buy Now!Moving Comfort Sprint Shorts... Read more...
Training for the Wasatch Back RAGNAR Relay, I've been training in the early-mornings. Lately, the conditions have been a bit warmer, but still windy, so I've been able to moderate my clothing to accommodate these changes in weather. Though I have switched up many of my running outfits, the GoLite Dakota Wind Vest has remained a staple in my routine. I've appreciated the wind-blocking abilities while still being highly-breathable. The versatility of this vest is great since I can also wear it with either long or short-sleeves--depending on conditions. I've been glad to be able to vary the ventilation using the zipper during the course of my runs. To be honest, my favorite thing about the vest is its styling. While some women's clothing can lack style, GoLite does know how to add little feminine touches in both color and fit to make it just right. A close second would be its ability to block the wind and help me maintain warmth while the morning winds are blowing down the canyon, which can be quite chilly at times. Running partners with just fleece tops were cold while I was able to stay warm without overheating. The Good
- Ultralight feel
- Great in combo with the GoLite BL-2
- Breathable back panel wicks moisture
- Blocks the wind well
- Excellent styling/fashionable
- It does retain body odors
- GoLite reflective logo is falling off
- Rear pocket could be sized down a tad to better carry items such as a cell phone
Lole Snug JacketIt’s been a long, cold winter. But now my tulips have bloomed and the sun is out, thawing the once frozen ground. I can’t say that I’m sad to be saying good-bye to winter for a while, but I am disappointed that I’ll have to send my Lole Snug Jacket to the back of my closet until the snow begins to fly next winter. If I could choose to keep only a handful of items from my closet, (and believe me, said closet is well-stocked), my Lole Snug Jacket would make the cut. It’s super warm, but also breathable and lightweight with no bulk. And it’s soft. Incredibly soft! The two zipper front pockets provide ample storage space, and the zipper pocket on the sleeve has turned out to be super convenient. I love this piece because of its versatility. It’s nice enough to wear out and about with jeans and a blouse, but it’s also perfect to wear as a ski jacket, or as a mid-layer on extremely frigid days. I throw it on over my gym clothes, as well as to shovel the snow or play outside with my kids. Talk about versatility. Oh ya, and did I mention how warm it is? I didn’t need any more reasons to love the Lole brand; Lole products are stylish, top-quality, technical, and inspiring! However, my Snug Jacket is yet one more reason to love Lole!
Lole Essential Zip-Up CardiganLole Essentials are just that--Essential! One of my favorite essential pieces is this zip-up second skin cardigan. It’s especially great for biking, hiking, and/or running in cool weather. Once you’re warmed up, it’s easy to stash because it’s both lightweight and compact. This essential piece is moisture wicking, and has upf 50+ protection. One of my favorite features is the front zipper pocket with mp3 system, and the front zipper pocket has a plastic key hook. Leave it to Lole to design high-performance pieces that are also incredibly stylish. Thanks Lole, for figuring out that us “outdoorsy” girls like to be active AND attractive. Shop: Click here to see more Lole gear. ... Read more...
Base layers come in all shapes and sizes. GoLite always seems to hit the market with good-looking and functional apparel. I've been using the GoLite BL-2 long-sleeve top this Spring and am really liking it. Features of the BL-2
- Dual fast-wicking Minerale™ fabrics
- Anti-chafe flatlock construction
- Ultra-soft hand feel for next-to-skin comfort
- Lightest fabric in high sweat zones speeds dry time
- Colors: Black, White (tested), Cabernet, White Cypress
- Weight: 5 oz
- MSRP: $50
GoLite Women's BL-2 ReviewWhen the BL-2 arrived, I was quickly taken to it's uniquely-feminine styling. The little features like the cut and stitched collar (with orange stitching) and the contoured fit really makes this otherwise-basic top stand out. I've been using the BL-2 primarily for running in the cool morning temperatures here in Utah. While it's beginning to warm during the day, the mornings can still be crisp one day and warmer the next (varying between 35 and 50 degrees). The combination of the BL-2 and the GoLite Dakota Wind Vest (review coming soon) is the perfect match for these variations. Since it is so breathable, I never feel like I'm over-heating, but the wind protection of the vest combined with the thermal properties of the BL-2 keep me comfortable. I prefer to carry my cell phone (Motorola Moto) with me when running and have been placing it in the rear pocket. The size of the pocket is nice, but with a heavier item, like my phone, it does tend to bounce around a bit. Not all tops have zippered back pockets, so I'll take what I can get, but that's the only major improvement I'd suggest. The Good
- Soft next to skin
- Has just enough stretch for freedom of movement
- Unique neckline bunching
- Sleeve length is perfect
- It stays put and doesn't ride up your hips
- Zippered back pocket provides ample storage
- Feels true to size (Women's Medium Tested)
- Breathes and insulates well
- White color is a little see-thru
- Pocket may be too big for bulkier items (like a cell phone)
Bottom Line: GoLite BL-2 Base Layer Top ReviewThis shirt feels extremely-comfortable to wear while running. Moisture management and all-around comfort is maintained--even when pushed hard. Combine this with an ultralight vest for added wind protection and you have a solid combo for running. Buy Now: Search for GoLite Base Layers... Read more...
If you're into mountaineering, you've participated in a "plastics vs. leathers" boot discussion at some point in your life. We all know the advantages of plastics- warmer, stiffer. Yet, they're about as uncomfortable as boots come. Leathers, on the other hand, are certainly more comfortable, yet in the past, don't provide quite the warmth that a pair of plastics can offer you. My Lowa Women's Mountain Expert GTX Boots throw that argument right to the wind. They're incredibly warm, and yet still fairly comfortable! I've taken my Lowa's with me to a variety of places, and have never been disappointed. From ice climbing in Ouray, CO to yurt construction in the Tobacco Roots, MT with the boys from Montana Backcountry Adventures, to a winter ascent of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO, my Mountain Experts GTX boots have been with me, keeping my feet warm and providing a technically sound boot.
Women's Mountain Expert GTX Boot- The Good
- Primaloft Insulation- These boots are warm! Warmest leather boot I've worn.
- Rubber randing at toe and heel allows for automatic crampons to clip right on. No need for strap crampons. Sounds odd, but other than the La Sportiva Nepals (which don't really fit my feet), I've had a tough time finding a leather boot that is automatic crampon compatible. Definitely my favorite feature on the boots, since all my crampons are autos.
- Gore Tex keeps your feet dry- After wearing my boots for 12+ hours traipsing through waist deep powder out in the Tobacco Roots in December, when we all returned to the car, I was the only one with dry tootsies. It was amazing!
- Lacing system- The boots lace like normal boots, except at the top, where there is a square shaped knob that sticks out from the tongue (see the pictures for a better visualization). This knob allows you to wrap the laces around, and really get some good torque on the top of the boots, and keeps them from coming undone. I like this because it allows me to keep the bottom of the boots laced a bit looser, and still keep the top part nice and tight. Keeps my circulation going!
- Tongue- Lowa's attention to detail in the tongue construction really pays off. The different fabrics and thickness are in just the right places to allow for ultimate flex with minimal effort or discomfort.
- Price = $350. For an insulated, Gore Tex leather mountaineering boot, they're priced fairly competitively.
Women's Mountain Expert GTX Boot- The Bad
- The "break in" time for these boots is a bit long. It took me several miles of trails and several feet of climbing before I felt like they were really molded to my feet. However, I think this is probably due to the stiffer construction of the boot, which is incredible for control when you need precise movements in bigger boots. So, I'm still psyched. Just be aware when you get them- you're going to want to purchase them well before a big expedition you've got planned, so you can really give the boots the time to get in sync with your feet!
OverallA great leather boot with automatic crampon capability. Fits well, stays dry and keeps you warm. Just be sure to give yourself time to break them in!
Buy Now!Lowa Women's Mountain Expert GTX Boots... Read more...
I like to run. Lots. I usually run about 50 miles a week, more if I have time to squeeze in longer runs between school and work. I have one ancient pair of fraying hot pink running shorts that I run in, every day. Snow, rain, sun... Doesn't matter. I've always hit the trails in my awful hot pink shorts. So when Moving Comfort approached me and asked me to test their Endurance Skort, a running skirt, I was a little hesitant, for a few different reasons. First, how could I possibly leave my hot pink shorts behind? They've seen me through hundreds of runs. I felt like I was betraying my best friend... Second, it's a skirt! Why would I run in a skirt? This was my first question for Moving Comfort- if my shorts function just fine, why in the world would I need to run in a skirt? After getting the run down (no pun intended, haha!), I decided to give them a try. Moving Comfort claims that running in a skort is more comfortable than running in shorts. Running shorts ride up, wedge themselves in unsightly places, and if you've got a pair with that built in mesh liner, you know you've spent part of your run digging that thing out of the same aforementioned unsightly place. The principle behind the skort is that there's a thin, spandex short underneath the skirt, functioning as a liner that doesn't work its way upwards as you run. Then, the skort on top serves two purposes: 1. To cover up those thin spandex shorts and 2. To look stylish while doing it.
Moving Comfort Endurance Skort: Features
- Boy Shorts: I suppose you could look at it as the "business" end of the skort: they wick away moisture, provide compression, and come with a "crotch gussett" (read- built-in underwear in the shorts). Since they're made of a very thin material, you don't have excess material rubbing anywhere while you run.
- Wrap Around Skirt: The "party" end of the the skort. This layer covers the compression shorts and provides that little bit of style the Endurance Skort is known for. The skirt has a slit in the front and darts in the back to really allow it to move with you.
- Internal key pocket
- Non-rolling elastic waistband with a drawstring, so you can really adjust the skort to fit you.
Moving Comfort Endurance Skort: The Numbers
- Comes in sizes XS-2X. I'm normally a size small in shorts, and this was consistent with Moving Comfort's products: I wear a size small skort. True to size!
- Boy short inseam = 3 inches.
- Skirt inseam = 13.5 inches
- Cost = $42.00
At the Outdoor Retailer Show this past summer, I met with some great ladies at Moving Comfort, a women's specific clothing brand most known for their great Sports Bras. They've designed their lines around cup size, so you size yourself the same way you'd size a regular bra- both by cup size and by chest size. They've also spent a lot of time developing high impact sport bras for those lucky ladies on the larger side- instead of just making the C/D bra a bigger version of the A/B bra, they've actually designed the larger cup size differently, with more support in crucial locations. To preface my review, I feel like I should give you a bit of information about me, size wise and activity wise. Let's just say that when I sat down to meet with Moving Comfort, they looked at me, and then proceeded to ask who as actually going to be testing and reviewing the product, as their bras were intended for women with "a fuller chest" than me. After I informed them that I was, in fact, the one who would be trying out their product, they steered me in the direction of one of their most versatile sports bras for those on the "smaller" side- the Alexis. I am an avid trail runner, cyclist and mountain biker, so these were the activities the ladies kept in mind when choosing the Alexis for me- high impact. While I only tried the Alexis due to size limitations, Moving Comfort has several great lines of products like their Fiona Bra, which is a Sports Bra specific for high impact activities for those of you in the C-DD range, or the Dori Bra, a hook and eye closure racer back bra aimed at the B/C range. Be sure to give those a shot if you're looking for great support in the larger cup size ranges. For now though, here's my impression of the Alexis Bra.
Alexis Sports Bra- The Good
- "Smoosh" free design- The Alexis comes with padded cups integrated into the bra, and an overall shape to it. This provides support in a similar way to a normal bra, as opposed to just smashing the girls closer to your body and hoping they don't move.
- Skinny straps- Nothing digging into your shoulders as you move.
- Back mesh panel- allows for great ventilation
- Moving comfort products are the #1 selling apparel product (pants, jackets, shorts, you name it) in running stores nation wide. They're onto something for that high impact support category!
Alexis Sports Bra- The Bad
- Even in the smaller size, the padded cups really were overkill for someone of A/B cup size. Definitely made for a "smoosh" free experience, as Moving Comfort advertises, but I felt that compared to my usual preference of a seamless, padding free bra, I was hauling around a lot of extra material for a lot of support that I didn't really need.
Recently, I took some time off from school and spent about 3 weeks in Costa Rica. My goal was to see some volcanoes, see some rain forests, and to try surfing. Surfing happened to be the 1st stop on my list, and somehow, my "Travel around-see the whole country-experience all of Costa Rica" trip turned into a 3 week surf trip! Each day I was out in the waves I was wearing my Patagonia Women's Short Sleeve Rash Guard. Never having surfed before, I wasn't sure what the actual function of a rash guard was. I just figured it was part of the "look," and had seen one on sale before I left the country, so I grabbed it, and figured I'd give it a try. I knew nothing about surfing, had never been before, and was unaware of how stoked I would later be on purchasing this piece of gear. After a few days of surfing, I discovered one of the many benefits of the Patagonia Short Sleeve rash guard- it comes with a UPF rating of 30+, so it keeps you from getting burned! Needless to say, I had a sweet tan line rockin' after this trip from the rash guard. Also, the rash guard kept wax off my stomach (from the board as I was paddling out), and saved my armpits from getting rubbed raw, also from the paddling. On top of all these features, however, was the most functional reason for purchasing a rash guard if you're a female- stable front side coverage. I made the mistake of simply wearing my swimsuit top out to surf one day, thinking that I'd eliminate some of the aforementioned tan line. Within catching the first couple of waves, I was cowering underwater, frantically trying to pull my swimsuit top back down, and hoping that I hadn't offended any of the locals... The pummeling I was getting by the waves each day was enough to rip my swimsuit top right up! I promptly turned around, walked back to my hostel, and tossed my rash guard back on. It stayed down, and my accidental flashing days were over! Not something I would have initially thought about when purchasing the Rash Guard, but definitely the best reason to purchase one.
Patagonia Women's Short Sleeve Rash Guard
- UPF 30 for sun protection
- Slimmer neckband doesn't feel like it's choking you the entire session
- Seamless underarms and shoulders ensure chafe-free paddling
- Colors designed to match Patagonia's swimsuit line, so you can be super stylin' as you catch that wave.
Lately there have been a lot of good women's gear companies cropping up. It's great to see functional women's gear out there, but let's be candid: Deny it as they may, skier girls and guys will often still buy their gear for looks. And like I always say...nothing's as hot as a chick who can rip. The phrase I keep hearing to describe all the new women's fitness gear is 'active and attractive' -- and I think that phrase fits well. Companies like Nike, Adidas, The North Face and Isis have represented women's fitness very well. But Lole is a brand that is gaining big-time traction in large part just because their stuff is just so darn good looking. Lole's tailored and stylish designs in their active wear cross over seamlessly into daily use. The name Lole is pronounced "low-lee" and is an acronym for 'Live Out Loud Everyday.' My wife already has a pile of great Lole gear. But she may need to make room for more, because I recently received an update from Lole about some of their best items for the coming 2009-2010 season:
For fitness, see the Delight Jacket ($ 140). With zip-off sleeves and reflective details, this is a jacket perfect for chilly fall runs. Start out with the sleeves, and as things start to heat up, zip them off and store them in the lower back pocket. Breathable, stretchy fabric makes this a great piece for any runner or walker’s gear closet. For lifestyle, check out the Lole Evolt dress/tunic. Wear it over jeans or leggings, with boots or flats. At $90, it’s a versatile piece that last in any woman’s wardrobe. Belt loops and a hip pocket add functionality, and the fabric is stretchy and comfortable. For snowsports, the Madison Jacket ($300) is a must-have. This jacket has all the tricked-out details, as well as a few fun details as well. Snow skirt, removable faux fur on the hood, and inner wrist gaiters all add to the style and functionality of this jacket.BUY NOW: Click here to search for Lole gear.... Read more...
At this summer's Outdoor Retailer Show in July, I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of companies to discuss some of their sweet new products, including Five Ten's Women's Guide Tennie, Keen's Commuter Shoes, several Jetboil products, and a whole host of new dog gear from RuffWear. One of the companies I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with was Mountain Khaki, based out of Jackson Hole Wyoming. I have been a fan of MK products for year, but have never been able to fit into their amazing "Utility Pants." Until 2 years ago, the women's version of the pant was a shrunken version of the men's, with wider hips. I loved how durable these pants seemed, and how easily my guy friends could wear them for an all day crack climbing-palooza, and then head straight out for food and drinks afterwords without needing to think twice about it. However, try as I might, I could not make a pair of the pants fit me. The smallest size was miles too big, and it looked like I had a box around my hips. I eventually gave up on my quest for a perfect pair of Mountain Khakis. Then! 2 years ago, MK designers completely re-engineered their Women's line, and someone was doing their homework this time! The pants now fit perfectly! Length, rise, everything. The Women's Alpine Pant (the female version of the Utility Pant) was now officially the most rad pair of pants I'd ever seen, and they fit me. "Built for the Mountain Life," as Mountain Khaki describes their product, these pants are definitely my "go-to" pair, for climbing, hiking and everyday wear as well.
Reasons Why I Love My Mountain Khakis
- Mountain Khaki is a member of "1% for the planet," which in turn distributed MKs donations to the Snake River Fund, The Access Fund, and The Grand Teton National Park Foundation, among other places.
- They come pre-shrunk! Or, as the industry calls it, "garment washed" for "minimal shrinkage." Nice, so you know that you're not going to need new pants after the first time you toss them in the dryer.
- Comes in both regular (31 inch) and long (34 inch) inseams.
- >Reinforced hem- in the back portion of the pants, where your heel is, MK has doubled the thickness of the fabric, so you don't shred the heel if it happens to get stuck under your shoe occasionally.
- >Comfortable, durable pants that have some decent shape to them. Really, need I say more?
I tried Dansko clogs about a decade ago and was impressed with the comfort, but a clog didn't necessarily seem to fit the bill for a more outdoor and active-friendly shoe. I just could not get into it with the standard clog designs. Fast forward ten years--my Danskos have become my favorite pre and post run/spin/hike/you-fill-in-the- blank shoe. Dansko's Acadia collection combines the best of both worlds...Danko's famously comfortable and well-constructed clog base with state-of-the-art materials for an "exceptionally comfortable shoe designed specifically for activewear." I wasn't sure how much I would be wearing my Dansko Kelsey clogs from the Acadia collection when I first got my feet in them, mainly because it was July and the clogs struck me more as a winter shoe. However, because of the DRI-LEX sock lining with anti-microbial and anti-odor treatment, I was able to wear my shoes sans socks and didn't have to worry about clearing out the room when it came time to remove them. So I decided to give them a try in July instead of waiting for the first flake of snow, or at least the first crunchy leaf underfoot. I figured a week in the Park City mountains would be an ideal place to try them out. Once finished with a game of tennis, I immediately put my Dansko Kelseys back on. They came off again for a mid-day run, but were immediately replaced when I returned home. I was impressed with how great they felt on my tired feet, and found them suitable for both a walk up a gravel road in the Park City mountains and then a walk up Main Street. Some other fantastic features about Dansko's active inspired collection are the slip resistant outsole, removable triple density EVA molded footbed, steel shank for built in stability and control, polyurethane midsole for additional cushioning, and leather linings and uppers to make sure functionality doesn't inhibit comfort or style. Thanks to Dansko's stellar line of active inspired shoes like the Kelsey, I've now found my perfect pre/post outdoor activity shoe, plus my perfect "hanging out" shoe, and my ultimate travel shoe for adventures both near and far. Can`t wait to see what Dansko dreams up next. Click here to search for Dansko clogs and other Dansko gear....Read more...
I stayed active throughout my first two pregnancies because I knew it would help me feel better, and more importantly I knew it would help ease labor and delivery...enough incentive for this girl! However, putting on my maternity fitness wear was sometimes less than inspiring. I've tried fitness clothes from Nike, Prana, and many others. All make great regular fitness clothing, and their maternity gear actually worked out okay for me. But I can't describe my relief when I learned about BornFit maternity sportswear. In a word, WOW! Not only are the clothes incredibly stylish, but their moisture-wicking, wrinkle resistant poly/spandex fabrics help keep you cool so you can kick up your workout that much more if you choose. That's one of the greatest things about the Outdoor Retailer conference -- you run into the most amazing up-and-coming companies. With BornFit, I had heard about them before the conference and decided I had to go check them out while I was there meeting with the top outdoor brands in the industry. Sometimes 'maternity wear' is nothing more than some guy putting a stretchy piece on the front of jeans. Nice try. But when I met up with founders Julie and Lisa -- former college roommates and both active moms -- I could tell their products would at least be well-intentioned. Then I saw the spring 2010 collection and was impressed with the style. But would it perform? I have been running in my BornFit Oxford skort several times now and, although I'm not currently pregnant, once I tie the inner drawstring it fits great! That's the brilliant part -- although this is maternity athletic wear, it is designed to be worn pre-pregnancy, throughout your pregnancy, and even post-pregnancy. The 2-inch waistband on the shorts, pants, and skorts can be worn over or under your belly, depending on what is more comfortable for you. What's more, there's a drawstring within the waistband so your clothes will still fit before and after pregnancy. I especially love the side slits on this skort, which makes for even better range of motion. Another bonus is the mesh side pocket hidden under the skirt for your keys, GU packets, or some cash. The material is excellent at wicking, and breathes quite well...so you don't suffocate under your clothes if you happen to be pregnant in the summer. BornFit touts the Oxford Skort as being good for running, biking or hiking. However, since the undershorts are not padded I wouldn't recommend them for any ride longer or more grueling than a spin class. And while they are ideal for running, I don't stop there. The skort is modest enough (14" skirt length) that you will feel comfortable with the coverage when in a yoga class or hitting the store later in the day. That's what I love about this kind of gear --- it's active, but attractive. Now that I've discovered BornFit, I know that when I'm walking into the gym 7 months pregnant I can hold my head high and know that I still look great. And if I didn't have the option of cinching up the waist, well these cute maternity clothes might inspire me to go for baby number 3 just so I could wear them! Thankfully that's not the case -- I can wear them now, and I'll wear them when I'm pregnant....Read more...
As ski season began winding down and climbing season winding up, I told myself I would finally buy a pair of approach shoes, instead of using my chacos for most approaches to climbs. I ended up settling on the Scarpa Women's Quest Shoes. The Quest Lady (women's specific version of the Quest), is a great all around approach shoe. Similar to Scarpa's Expresso and Zen shoes, the Quest is intended for slightly more technical needs than the Zen and is all leather, unlike the Expresso. The Quest's sole is a "climbing dot" sole, and looks very similar to those on other comparable approach shoes (La Sportiva Cirque Pros or B5s, for example). This climbing dot sole provides great traction, but unfortunately, not great durability. As with any approach shoe with this sole, it's not going to last long if you're wearing it as an every day shoe. Save it for when you really need the traction, and your rubber will perform the way you want it to.
Scarpa Quest Approach Shoes
- Solid leather upper. The Quest is all leather, unlike the Expresso, with has some synthetic material mixed in as well.
- Rubber toe randing. The randing on the Quest comes up higher than on the Zen, and the toe has a more defined edge. Perfect for edging your way up on a mellow climb.
- Rock shoe last- The Quest is built on a modified rock climbing shoe last, giving you that forward propulsion you feel when you put these shoes on. This lasting makes it easy to get on your toes and edge in these shoes.
- Climbing dot sole- Grippy grippy! I've been traipsing all over Little Cottonwood Canyon Granite in these guys, and I'm really impressed with how much traction they provide.
As you gear up for summer adventure, checkout the latest women's footwear from Patagonia. These multi-sport shoes are built with a streamlined, feminine design, women's specific 3DM triple-density 15% recycled EVA midsoles for women's-specific cushioning and support. All styles also feature a 30% recycled rubber Vibram outsole for excellent traction with a minimal footprint.
Patagonia BlyThis low-profile boot was named for Nelly Bly, who made a 72-day trek around the world in 1889. Women as daring as Ms. Bly will appreciate a durable suede leather upper that fends off tough scrapes, and a polyester (40% recycled) mesh lining that breathes through sticky situations. Buy Patagonia Bly Shoes - MSRP: $110
Patagonia PinhookLike lizards and desert lupine, the ventilated Pinhook thrives in canyon heat. The shoe has a suede and breathable mesh upper that won't wilt in high temperatures; its polyester (40% recycled) mesh lining increases airflow. Buy Patagonia Pinhook Shoes - MSRP: $100
Patagonia KenoshaYou'll have this uncluttered suede and mesh multi-sport shoe on and off pronto. The adjustable straps on top and at the back provide a secure fit; An abrasion-resistant rubber rand adds protection. Buy Patagonia Kenosha Shoes - MSRP: $90 Buy Now: Search for Patagonia Women's Shoes... Read more...
As an outdoor enthusiast, I spend most of my time and free cash getting cool new toys like cams and harnesses. For this reason, I'm not super familiar with nice cars. I spend most of my time trashing my Toyota Tacoma, filling with with climbing gear, dogs and muddy people. So, I don't really have a great breadth of knowledge regarding upscale vehicles. However, I recently came to a conclusion. It seems that a few brands within the outdoor industry seem to parallel nice car brands. Arc'Teryx was the first one that came to mind. Expensive, they're much like the ferarris or a porsches of the climbing realm. They make very high quality equipment. Yet is it necessary to spend all that money to get a functioning product? No. But, ooo, man, does it feel nice to sit in luxury for a bit. This was the case with my Arc'Teryx R280 Women's Climbing Harness. Certainly the most expensive harness I've had my hands on, I was curious to see if the price difference ($135 new as opposed to a measly $45.95 for a basic Black Diamond Harness) was worth the comfort difference.
- All around harness
- Self locking buckles
- Fixed leg loops
- Weight: 10.1 oz
- Sizes XS thru XL
Pros of the Arc'Teryx R280
- Packable- The R280 gets practically as small as my Alpine Bod Harness, and weights near nothing. The plastic molded gear loops can be snapped on and off, so you can truly use this harness as a lightweight alpine harness. Mine squished down to the size of my two fists combined.
- Comfortable- Warp Strength Technology distributes the pressure of a fall or simply sitting in the harness throughout the entire waistbelt as opposed to simply throughout a single piece of one inch webbing with lots of padding (how harnesses are typically constructed). Despite being thinner than most harnesses, the change in the way this harness distributes weight makes it just as comfortable, if not more so.
Cons of the Arc'Teryx R280
- Pricey! Definitely the most expensive all-around harness I've seen.
- The drop seat attachment to the back of the harness isn't as secure as some I've seen. A little time hiking with a pack on over the harness, and I'd managed to accidentally undo my leg loop keeper straps, accidentally dropping my seat.
As promised when I wrote my quick review of the La Sportiva Women's Wildcat Mountain Running Shoes, I have put several miles on them and can now provide you with a more extensive review! To get the basic specs and review of the general info about the shoe, check back in on my quick review. First, lets talk about when this shoe excels. After running these in a variety of conditions for a variety of lengths, the Wildcat seems to have one area of expertise- short runs with relatively level ground. If you're heading out for a 45 minute run up the foothills on your lunch break at work, up a well beaten path, these shoes are awesome. So lightweight that you can barely feel them on your feet, they're idea for short runs where you're looking to move fast and save weight. They're my first choice shoe for my lunch break runs, or late evening jogs up on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Now, let's talk about when this shoe would not be my first shoe of choice. While the rubber and traction provided by the sole are grippy, the shoe itself does not offer enough support for more varied terrain. If you're stepping on or over rocks larger than a grapefruit, the Wildcat's lightweight mesh doesn't seem to provide quite what your feet will need to have a great run. The same holds true for long runs (in my case, anything over an hour and a half). I reach for a more supportive shoe when I'm out for my longer days. Thought I'm sacrificing the lightweight advantage that the Wildcat's provide, my choice is more support. After running in the shoes for a while, the soles are still holding up great. Mud, dirt, trail and a bit of pavement, these shoes have seen a lot in the past few months. Since I've had them, I've logged about 100 hours in them, and they're still holding up great. Overall, I have only 1 gripe with the shoe: No pull tab on the back for easy on and off. I'm constantly crushing my fingers or the back of the shoe in an attempt to get them on. The integrated tongue makes it a bit more snug of a fit, and with that added snugness, getting them on without a pull tab is a bit of a chore. Bottom line: La Sportiva has made a great lightweight trail running (oh, excuse me, mountain running) shoe that excels for shorter runs on well established trails. They stay in my truck as my lunch break running partner! Buy Now! La Sportiva Women's Wildcat Mountain Running Shoe...Read more...
The trend in woman’s sunglasses has grown to the big, bug-eyed, gigantor frames. While I love to embrace my womanhood, I don’t know if I could sport glasses as huge as the cool California kids. This is how I came on the Smith Melrose Sunglasses. Smith Optics have made two Audrey Hepburn inspired sunglass wide and stylish without drowning your ENTIRE face, the Audrey and the Melrose. The Smith Melrose are wide and styley. They are available in both polarized and non-polarized frames. I highly recommend the polarized. The world looks better, and your eyes are protected through additional UV protection and technology. The Melrose, despite their size, are lightweight and I do not get any red marks or depressions where the glasses lay on my face and nose. There is a sexy little space between the frame and the lens as the frames hones around your face. The Smith Melrose is very classy, and an asset to a woman’s wardrobe. The frame fits loosely on the face, well suited for city wear, and not so much for the backcountry. When comparing Smith Optics to other top sunglass manufacturers, the place where I feel Smith could improve is the lenses themselves. While I love the wide range of lens colors, and the Tapered Lens Technology (eliminating distortion), the lenses seem to scratch over time. It is not easy to scratch them, but will happen inevitably with continued use. I am not gentle on my gear (yes, I consider sunglasses gear). I have accumulated a few scratches through tossing the glasses in my purse full of random objects, or carrying my glasses in the same hand as my car keys. Absent-minded care of Smith Melrose sunglasses will result in scratches within a year. If you are kind to them they will last several years. This earns Smith a “good” on the crappy – excellent lens quality scale. Highlights for the Melrose:
- Polarized (also available non polarized)
- UV Protection
- Tapered Lens Technology
- Hydrophobic coating
- Variety of frames colors
- Variety of lens colors
- Lens quality- good
- Lifetime Warranty
I teach yoga full time. A few classes I teach are 5:30 am… yawn, stretch, breathe deep, and grab a tank top on the way out the door. When I don’t know what to wear it usually ends up being the PrAna Bella Sport Top. The PrAna Bella Sport Top has clean lines and a sleek four way stretch. The criss-cross back allows for full range of motion in the shoulders, and the straps stay put without digging in, even when the yogini is in the deepest of bound twists. I prefer the rather exposed back the Bella Sport offers, so I can demonstrate more subtle motions of the shoulder blades. The top feels professional. The strong internal shelf bra with removable cups has you covered. I don’t have to think twice when dropping back into a back bend. The fabric holds up well against multiple washings and the color holds strong. The PrAna Bella Sport is composed of a recycled poly and spandex blend. The quick dry technology is great moisture control. The PrAna Bella Sport Top Rundown:
- Recycled poly and Lycra blend with four way stretch
- Criss-cross back straps
- Internal bra shelf with removable cups
- Quick Dry Technology
- Retains color and shape
The Verve Lorelli Top is one of the best fitting sports bras I own. Unlike most sports bras, which are designed to hunker down and strap the boulder to the shoulder, the Verve Lorelli was designed with motion and all-sport application in mind. Verve stresses quality of materials and craftsmanship. The Lorelli offers a Cool Max fabric next to skin, which is soft and moisture wicking. The cross back straps are independent from each other to allow full range of motion in your yoga practice or day at the crag. The Lorelli top is finished with a layer of an organic cotton/ Lycra blend. If you fall in the A or B range, the Lorelli will be one of your favorite pieces. The Verve Lorelli is amazingly flattering for modest to moderate busts. It gives a soft perk without the risk of falling out of your top. If you fall into the C or D range I would veer away from the Lorelli and consider the standard Verve Bra. The Verve Bra still avoids the uni-boob effect, but has a bit more coverage, as the perk the Lorelli offers might put a larger bust over the edge. Verve clothing is quality and simple. Verve is the kind of apparel that makes you notice the climber or yogini and not be distracted by some flashy top. Verve Clothing, based in Boulder, Colorado, has four rockin’ seamstresses who work from their homes and sign each Lorelli or Verve piece they build. This elite crew is known as the Verve Grannies. You can look up the Granny who sewed your Lorelli, check out her pic and learn a bit about the woman. Brenda sewed my top, and she did a fine job. The Lorelli Wrap Up:
- Cross back straps for ultimate range of motion
- Cool Max next to skin
- Organic cotton/ Lycra blend top layer
- Made in the USA by a Colorado Verve Granny
I spent a good chunk of my spring break in a harness. No complaints here, since that means I was out doing some pretty fun stuff. Not only did I spend a lot of time in a harness, but I spent a lot of time in a comfortable, lightweight harness; the Black Diamond Primrose Harness. The women's specific version of the Momentum harness, the Primrose is a great all around harness. Ice climbing, rock climbing (even canyoneering for a day!), this harness has done it all for me. The Primrose comes with a variety of buckle and leg loop choices. Let's break them down.
- Primrose: The straight Primrose name indicates a traditional buckle system for the waist and fixed leg loops.
- Primrose AL: Traditional buckle system for both leg loops and waist. This makes the leg loops completely adjustable, which is idea for ice climbing. Space for added layers, the ability to take your harness off without doing the "hop on one leg" dance in crampons...
- Primrose SA: SA Stands for Speed Adjust- both the leg loops and waist are adjustable, and the buckles are pre-threaded, so all you need to do is give it a pull and it's safe.
Key Features of the Black Diamond Primrose Harness
- Four molded gear loops- allow you to rack up for a long trad route or grab a few draws and head up that sport climb.
- Clipped leg loops- drop your leg loops quick if you need to make a bathroom run but don't want to dismantle you're whole upper half.
- Padded bullhorn waist with increased rise means that the harness really will fit better than a men's harness. That increased rise means that the waist of the harness will truly sit above your hips, where it needs to be for safe usage. The bullhorn shaped waist also means accommodation for hips, something that men's harnesses don't tend to have.
- Comes in sizes extra small - large: Accommodates waist sizes from 24 inches through 36 inches.
I keep hoping that by talking about sandals, shorts and other summery things, the weather will take the hint, and it will warm up about 30 degrees by tomorrow... So far, it hasn't worked. Nonetheless, i dug out my shorts yesterday, and today, despite the freezing cold temps, I will be wearing my favorite pair of shorts around: my PrAna Bliss Shorts! PrAna boasts that they make sustainable clothing for yoga and climbing, and this company truly lives up to the name sustainable. After checking out their website (www.PrAna.com), I learned about a number of organizations they are allied with (from HERA to the Conservation Alliance), and the National Power Initiative, of which PrAna is a proud member. By supporting renewable resources at their corporate headquarters and within their own homes, PrAna employees have done the equivalent of keeping 2,300 cars off the road. Be sure to check out their website for more cool facts... But now, back to my shorts!
PrAna Bliss Shorts
- Poly/Spandex Blend: stretches with you when running, hiking or just walking around, yet maintains its shape. NOT like that pair of stretchy jeans out own that you can wear once before they're so stretched out they need to be washed again.
- Side stash pocket: Just big enough to fit a drivers license, credit card and a GU shot. Beware though, this pocket doesn't close.
- QuickDry Material: Jump off the boat and into the river, hop back out and wait 5 minutes, and these shorts will be dry again.
- 4.5 Inch inseam makes these shorts stylish, yet long enough to still hike in them!
- Comes in sizes XS-XL. As a size 2, I fit comfortably into an XS, so they seem pretty true to size.
Wearing a quality made trail runner feels like drinking crisp water when you had no idea how unbelievably dehydrated you were. Like the water refreshing your throat and spreading replenishment through your body to the belly, the La Sportiva Fireblade first makes your feet feel well, easy entry of the foot against a mesh, well fitting heel. Then the hugging contours snug your feet to alignment, with well balanced pronation control (you don’t want too much or it could promote a bad habit). I have been continually impressed with the La Sportiva Fireblade. I have run my feet through, sand, moss, high desert trails, icy roads, uneven scree, wet creeks, and in the foothills. Mile after mile the lightweight, low profile, Fireblade can withstand, nicely. The triple midsole provides a long enduring stability and the construction of the shoe hugs the foot to the midsole without being restricting. The Women’s La Sportiva Fireblade is designed for women. They are not updating the mens shoe with dainty colors, but building the shoe around a women’s specific last. La Sportiva Fireblade Rundown:
- Lightweight, low profile
- Triple midsole for long endurance
- Shoe built around a women's specific last
- Well-constructed upper to promote proper form
- Resilient to weather
- Sticky well wearing FriXion® AT/ Racing sole
The Marmot Scree Pant ain’t your Grandma’s softshell. This is what I wear when I am called out for Search and Rescue needs. If you are not sure what you are going to come up against, the Marmot Scree is a good call. The softshell allows for a good stretch in the knees and hips for supreme range of motion. The M3 fabric is abrasion resistant and holds up well to the granite slab butt scooting. The Marmot Scree pants are water resistant and breathe so well I can toss on a wool base layer underneath and I am good to go whether it be a winter walk with the dog or ice climbing. Most definitely a multi-use, multi-season pant. The Marmot Scree’s have the standard hand pocket on each side and a thigh pocket with a Velcro closure. They also have elastic in the waist which gathers only on the backside of the pant. I don’t particularly care for the look of the gather, but you can’t really see it if you buy the black ones. The snug and stretchy fit of the waist feels soft and secure. This makes the belt loops superfluous, as the pants hug your waist, but you could wear a belt if you were that style-y. I do love the calf zippers. They makes accessing your boots simple and the snap closure at the end keeps the cuff tight to eliminate wind, water, or snow wafting up your pant leg. You could also unzip the calves for ventilation in the warmer months. Beware the inseam is rather short, so you tall folks may be SOL. I am 5'9" and they have me covered, but just barely. Marmot Scree Pants in a nutshell:
- M3 fabric is abrasion resistant, water resistant, and breathable
- Multi season use, good stand alone pant or layering piece
- Allows full range of motion comfortably in knees and hips
- Long leggers beware, the inseam in short
- Calf zippers for ventilation in summer or tack down in colder months
- …and they make you butt look good
There are a few things I always look for when I am evaluating a sock. First and foremost, I evaluate the performance under it's designed application. The Smartwool Stripeuccinno Espresso Sock is not a ski sock, a running sock, a deep sea diving sock, or a mountaineering sock... it is designed for lifestyle and the days in between.
I first came across the SmartWool Stripeuccino when my massage therapist was wearing a pair. I was laying face down on a table and she had taken her boots off, to local the snow stuck to them. She had these great socks on underneath. She told me how wearing a cute sock, even though no one can see them a lot of the time, made her feel beautiful. Girly and unpractical? Yes. And I fully agree with her.
Many aspects and activities in my life demand high performance and specialty gear. It is nice to have a pair of gear like socks with no application other than lounging. My post frost bitten toes like being wrapped in a sock that is simple, soft, and out of the ordinary, for ordinary occasions.
What separates this sock form the many lifestyle socks on the market is its simplicity and brand history. All Smartwool socks start with great material, New Zealand merino wool. This odor neutralizing fiber is combined with a very small amount of nylon (13%) and elastic (1%). This provides a great blend for everyday living. It fits snug, but I don't get deep compression lines after wearing all day. The SmartWool Stripeuccinno is a medium thin sock you could wear with a pair of Dansko Clogs or Patagonia boots. The socks maintain their shape and does not get the “fuzz balls” sticking out or puckering in the sock after repeated washing. I recommend buying at least two pair, to give you leeway if you misplace one in the wash. There is nothing worse than loosing just one of your cute socks.
The SmartWool Stripeuccino Espresso Lifestyle Sock Low Down:
- Simple, meduim thin sock
- Knee height
- Soft to the touch
- odor nutralizing, soft, merino wool
- 86% wool, 13% nylon, 1% elastic
- does not breakdown in multiple washes
A knee high, lifestyle, wool sock is not a must have, but icing on the cake.Read more...
The Marmot Venus Jacket is a great layering piece. I originally bought this jacket to pull me out of fashion funk. I own a fair amount of technical clothing and somehow it always ends up being black, dark gray, or brown. I fully underestimated this jacket. The Marmot Venus caught my eye with it's flattering quilting construction and refreshing colors. I kept the jacket because everyday I am finding new applications for it.
The Marmot Venus Jacket is a lightweight, high quality jacket. The Venus comes in at 340 grams. For those of you who don't think in grams, that is just shy of 12 ounces, or just under ¾ pounds. I say it is a great layering piece because the cut allows room for a fleece underneath or a shell over the top, or both. The arms are cut wide in an angel wing construction to limit the torso riding up when your arms are extended. It was a worthy effort, better than most, although it creeps a small bit. I typically cannot wear Marmot softgoods, as their torsos run rather short as a general. This jacket covers me, even post-creeping.
The Marmot Venus has great pockets. It has the a front hand pocket on each side with zip closures. The zips have a contoured rubber tab that makes the zippers easy to manipulate with bare or gloved hands. On the interior of the jacket there are two HUGE bucket style pockets. I could conceal a Nalgene in each side if I wanted to, but so far it has been bags of M&Ms in the drafty movie theater, and granola bars that I didn't want to freeze in my pack while I was snowshoeing.
While this jacket is great for high aerobic activity, the Marmot Venus is not a cold weather jacket. Yes, you see down parkas on the top of Everest and other high mountain expeditions. This is not it. Think of the Marmot Venus as a spring or autumn jacket, or a versatile layer. It does not stand alone in winter conditions.
The Marmot Venus Jacket in a nutshell:
- High warmth for volume jacket
- 800+ down fill
- 2 hand front pockets
- 2 HUGE interior pockets
- Great layering jacket
- Not a winter coat
- Angel wing construction for full range of motion
How does it provide warmth with so little bulk to the jacket, you ask? High quality, high fill down. The Marmot Venus filled goose down, and 800+ fill at that. This means that for ounze of weight the down fills 800+ mL of volume. This is the highest quality down available.Read more...
I was skeptical at first, but as Helly Hansen backs their product with a 30 day money back guarantee, I wanted to see what they were so confident about. After putting the Freeze Prowool ½ Zip Turtle to the test, it is in my top three baselayers for fit and performance.
If you are on the cusp of the size, or are pretty busty, size up in this top. The Helly Hansen sizing recommendations are quite small. According to the Helly Hansen size recommendations I am the mid range for a small. Not the case. In reality I am the large end for a medium. For comparisions sake, I wear an Arc’teryx medium base layer and a Patagonia small. I look for my base layer to fit across the shoulders and chest, avoiding constriction and assuring full range of motion in the arms to determine size. The medium is great. The seams are simple and non adjutating.
The wool in the Freeze Prowool ½ Zip Turtle is soft to the touch and looks like a tightly woven wool grid pattern. The cuts is very form fitting designed to be next to skin. This is not a midlayer, it would be uncomfortable to have anything bigger than a tank top under it. It has a similar cut and feel to a soft surfing rashguard.
The ½ zip is a great feature, as I utilize it for ventilation on cold winter trail runs. The fabric will not shrink if you wash it in cold water, but do not machine dry it. I own this top in the black and it is very chic, once the ½ is closed it is invisible. There are rubber traction like lines on the forearms. I am not clear as to what you would need to stick to, wearing a baselayer. It kinda makes me feel like the Shedder from the Ninja Turtles. …hardcore?
The HH Warm technology is warmer quicker than any of the other baselayers. It also is great about wicking moisture away from the skin. I was concerned it may be too warm for high aerobic activity, but the thermoregulation is quick to respond.
Helly Hansen Freeze Prowool 1/2 Zip Turtle Rundown:
HH Warm techology for thermoregulation and moisture control
Snug fit for next to skin layer
Invisible 1/2 zip for ventilation
"Shedder" rubber traction on the forearms
Low profile fabric, but very warm
Made of New Zealand Merino wool
I spend a lot of time in my base layers, whether it be climbing, hiking, trail running, biking, or mountaineering, I definitely put the base layer to the test and wear them out. As the technology has developed my base layer drawer has grown to have more and more wool pieces. I love my Arc’teryx Rho, my Patagonia Capiline and Patagonia Wools. The Helly Hansen Freeze Prowool ½ Zip can hang with the best of them. It does not shirk in the company or competition with Arc’teryx or the Patagonia base layer Pioneer.Read more...
The Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL Jacket is one of the most versatile pieces I own. It was designed for the needs and demands alpine climbers and mountaineers, but the benefits of this design can be enjoyed by anyone combating the cold.
The Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL is insulated with Primaloft One, a heat seeking and heat retaining synthetic that is nothing short of remarkable. With the compressibility, and warmth-to-weight ratio comparable only to goose down, it has one huge advantage: warm when wet. Wet fabric and wet insulation is far from comfortable, the Compressor PL is not a portable five star hotel, but it will keep you warm.
The Stria Rip nylon is treated with DWR and seems to hold up well. I recommend giving the nylon an additional treatment after your first year in the jacket, to ensure long life. I am finishing my first year in this jacket, and though it has not leaked yet, it is loosing some shine. I have ice and mixed climbed in this jacket and will vouch for its ripstop nature. There were a several instances I had duct tape ready, but when I went to search for the tear, there was none.
The cut of the Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL is rather loose. I tend to be on the cusp of a small and medium and the small is a bit loose on my frame. This design is intentional for layering purposes. Warm as it is, you will need to layer with a shell and additional layers for extreme conditions. It is also important to note, the DWR ensures water resistance, and is not a substitute for a shell. The Compressor also comes in a hooded version if you prefer.
One aspect of the jacket which I feel sets it apart from many other jackets it the clean professional look of the piece. The color is multidimensional, so I don't get bored with it, or have trouble matching it with city clothes. I am confident wearing this jacket out on a winter gallery stroll, or climbing. It has super clean lines, a with simple contours accentuating your figure, and all of the threads, zippers, and velcro are the same color for that polished look.
If you buy one jacket this year, let it be the Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL.Read more...
After switching back to skiing after 12 years of snowboarding, boot comfort was of high importance to me for my Alpine Touring setup. After trying on several different boots, the best choice for my foot was the Scarpa Diva AT Boot. A great lightweight 4 buckle touring boot, the Diva also charges the downhill effectively as well. This versatility is created by the interchangeable tongue system. The Diva is normally equipped with a hinged walk tongue, which puts the boot at a flex index of 90, which is great for all day tours. When you're out for a resort day and want that extra downhill stiffness, swap the tongue out for the additional Ski tongue, which increases the flex on the boot to a 110. This makes the Diva a great crossover boot for those wanting something that will perform equally well in the backcountry and for resort days. The Heel Retention Strap system and 4 buckles allow you to really crank down on this boot, offering great stability and support. The walk mode on these boots is great with the walk tongue in it, though not as free-pivoting as Black Diamond's new Shiva AT boot.
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- Fit info
- Wider last than Garmont AT line
- Higher shell volume than Garmont AT line- great for high arches or higher volume feet
- A word for those with smaller feet- Scarpa shells are the smallest AT shells available. A 22.5 in Scarpa is comparable to a 23 in Garmont, but actually 2mm smaller.
- Heel is a bit sloppy after some packing out, but a pair of butterfly fit modification pads seems to eliminate that problem entirely. If you have wide heels, no problem!
- Thermo-Moldable liners allow for great flexibility in fit. Though you can wear them right out of the box, thermomolding fixes any hot spots you may have and adds comfort. Specifically, the Diva comes with an Intuition Precision Lady liner, which is slightly narrower than their regular liners and engineered for a womens' foot.
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- Pros
- HRS Strap really does help keep your heel in place, and the ratcheting buckle system can be easily cranked down in gloves.
- Ski/Walk button is a great big knob that is also easy to access and use with gloves on. No more fumbling with the light switch style toggles.
- Comfy! Not quite a snowboarding boot, but as close as I think I'm gonna get!
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- My only gripe!
- How many women's products can the outdoor industry possibly name the Diva? I believe I own a harness, headlamp, pack and now ski boots, all with the same name! But, princess names aside, I love my boots!
I have a new obsession with thumb hooks on things! And, it appears I have a thing for jackets... So, The North Face Momentum Jacket was just my style! For trail running, light hiking and around town errands, this jacket is perfect. The North Face Momentum Jacket is made of TKA superstretch material, so its fleecy and warm, yet still form fitting, making it ideal for climbing as well.
The North Face Momentum Jacket
- Zip in compatibility! If you have a North Face shell and want to make it a bit warmer, you can zip your Momentum right into it.
- Monkey thumb hooks keep your jacket sleeves in the same place even when you move your arms above your head (making it ideal for a layer climbing).
- Left "napoleon" pocket on upper jacket is a great place for you to stash a license, chapstick, credit card.
I have a new "Date night in cold weather" jacket! The Penfield Millis Women's Down Jacket. I'll be the first to admit, I normally traipse around downtown SLC in my bright orange SubZero down jacket, certainly not the pillar of fashion. However, since acquiring my Millis jacket, I can now walk around in style, and still be incredibly warm. Penfield, a company based out of Massachusetts, has been around since 1975, and this year released a women's line, which will be expanding further next season. They do a great job of blending trendy with functional.
Penfield Millis Women's Down Jacket
- Water resistant and windproof outer material does a great job blocking out gusts in the city.
- Removable hood snaps on and off easily
- Drawstring hem keeps cold air from sneaking in from the bottom.
- Coolest feature on the jacket- Pockets! The front pockets look like snap-top closure pockets, which I was originally really disappointed with. Where do I put my cold hands?! However, if you look a bit harder, you discover Penfield has created the Millis jacket with a second hidden, fleece lined pocket directly behind the stylish snap-top one. Just what my cold mitts were looking for!
- A great around the town jacket in colder temps. Definitely not for expeditions, ice climbing, ect, but perfect for warming up on those frozen days in January. Has the warmth of a technical down jacket without making you look like you're headed to Everest.
I headed back to CO for Thanksgiving to visit family, and while traveling, I love to have a warm jacket that doesn't make me look too teched out. For this, I brought along my Mountain Hardwear Monkey Woman Fleece Jacket.
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Woman Fleece
- Comfy, true to size, and just warm enough. A 300 weight fleece, it will work great for crisp mornings and cooler evenings.
- Power stretch panels around waist and around wrists allow for a great range of motion in the arms- no feeling restricted in this jacket!
- Monkey Phur material allows for greater breathability that an average fleece.
- Nice narrow cut- no excess bulk material around the waist.
- Eventually the fleece looses its fuzzy appeal and loft. I wear an across the shoulder messenger bag daily, and there's a permanent crushed down pattern right across where my strap falls. I've washed it a few times and that doesn't seem to help. However, never loses its warmth!
So, we're going to try something new here. I'm going to mass review The North Face's Casual Wear Tops, since I have far too many of them to actually review each piece. Overall, TNF does a great job with their designs and their sizing seems to be right on for me. One of my favorite North Face tops is The North Face Ex-Beau Shirt, a 3/4 length sleeve button up that I can wear to class and on dates, but then also roll the sleeves up and bust out a few routes at the climbing gym as well. Best Feature- sleeves can roll up, and then stay up with the button loop closure TNF has added to each sleeve. I happen to own this shirt in 4 different colors... I think that qualifies as an obsession. Another great North Face top is The North Face Falls Creek Woven Long Sleeve Shirt. Similar to the Ex-Beau, it also has those cool little sleeve button-up loops. Nicer for cooler weather, the Falls Creek Woven Shirt is just as versatile as the Ex-Beau as well. For short sleeves, my favorite is The North Face Sabrina Shirt. Wicking, UPF 30 fabric and a stretchy material make for a great all around T. Overall, The North Face seems to size true, and the tops are all cute enough to wear out but burly enough to spend a day at the crag in. My favorite combo!...Read more...
I love these pants. I LOVE these pants. For climbing in desert sandstone to chilling in the Tetons, the Patagonia Canvas Shop pants are rugged, yet still maintain some shape to them, so I don't look like I'm wearing man-pants. Personally, Carharts don't fit my body shape. Being short, smaller and having no hips, they just always seemed to be falling off me. I was bumming, and also lacking a pair of pants to do burly sandstone climbs in. Then I found a pair of Patagonia Canvas Shop Pants, and my problems were solved!
Patagonia Shop Pants
- Inseam comes in Short, Regular and Long! Finally, pants that I'm not rolling up a bunch just to avoid stepping on them.
- Constructed of tough organic cotton- environmentally friendly AND indestructible.
- Lower waistband adds comfort. No more pants riding up at your belly-button. They sit right below my waist loop with a harness on, which works out great.
- Bombproof. I can't seem to wear them out or put a hole in them, despite multiple Moab trips and everyday wear.
- Again with Patagonia and the sizing- if you're on the fence between sizes, go smaller.
After a long day of classes yesterday, a friend and I decided that to waste the new snow would be sinful, so we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon for some nighttime touring. I ran straight from classes to the hill, again totally psyched on gear that can perform in both situations. This time I was wearing my Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip Top. The Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip top is a great layering piece for adding warmth and still keeping you dry. The Merino wool (see, I told you all I was addicted!) insulates when wet, wicks great, and of course, keeps the stink to a minimum.
Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip Specs
- Great fit! Close to skin, but not 80's spandex tight. Definitely true to size, and nicely cut for a woman's figure.
- Laminated sleeve pocket is great for credit card, driver's license or iPod
- Zippered collar allows for some extra ventilation when you want it, or keeps your neck toasty when it gets a bit colder.
- Works great as a mid layer. I wear a super lightweight short sleeve underneath this most days. Functions as either a heavier next to skin layer or a lightweight mid layer, depending on what your system is, what the outside temp is and how active you're planning on being.
So, I have never really been a fan of wool. The idea of the itchy, scratchy material up against my skin all day doesn't really sound appealing. However, I decided to branch out and give it one last try with an Icebreaker Merino Wool Nature Ultra Lite Top. I am now what you would call a wool addict. I can admit it, I have a problem. After purchasing my first Icebreaker piece, I proceeded to wear it for a week straight, testing out the "Stink Free" claim Icebreaker makes so confidently. Though it was nowhere near the current record of 200+ days of continuous wear, within my week trial, I still smelled great! I'm sure my classmates and co workers were a little concerned about my lack of changing however...
- Itch-free! Merino wool feels great against the skin
- "Nature" line consists of stylish pieces that still do a great job insulating- I can go from the slopes to class and not change my shirt!
- Merino wool is an environmentally friendly renewable resource. Icebreaker has also gone the extra step with accountability in production- each garment comes with a "Baaa Code," which you can type on the Icebreaker website, and track exactly which production center your garment was made at and view the conditions in that production center. Pretty cool!
- 160 weight wool is a great first layer- keeps you warm enough but isn't insulation overkill.
- We all know everything of quality comes at a price... And my Icebreaker garments are some of the most expensive layering pieces I own. Definitely pricey for a baselayer, but it will last.
It DUMPED here in the Wasatch yesterday! So, between my 8am mid term and 12:20pm class today, I headed up to Alta to get some pre-season touring in. I cruised up in a pair of shell pants and my Patagonia Capilene 3 Bottoms. Patagonia Capilene 3 Bottoms are great for those of us who get cold legs when kickin' it in the outdoors. Even while touring, my lower body is always cold. Top half, I'll be in a short sleeve shirt, but my bottom half seems to always require a bit more insulation. Patagonia Capilene 3 Bottoms appear to be just the right weight for me, from touring to keeping warm on the downhill as well.
Patagonia Capilene 3 Bottoms
- Mid rise waist fits nicely compared to other bottoms. You're not dealing with fabric all the way up your rib cage, but there's enough there to get the job done.
- Gusseted crotch allows for a great range of motion, ideal for that back and fourth touring motion.
- Sizing runs on the larger size. At 5 foot 3 inches and 110 lbs, I needed an extra small to get the waist to fit just right. I'm usually a small in bottoms, not an extra small.
- Great wicking! Moisture is drawn away from your body very efficiently.
Ok, so I know it's not exactly swimsuit season. I understand we are moments away from ski season. Recently I stayed with a friend at an apartment complex with a hot tub, and was reminded of how much I love my Patagonia Clare Bidart Racer Swimsuit. Perhaps I'm partial to the name, too... I love the racerback design of this suit. Personally, I'm not a "lay out at the beach in the sand" kinda gal. If I'm out in a swimsuit, I'm doing something active, like body surfing or swimming. This suit offers a great compromise between fashion and function (this appears to be a theme in things I review!). Both the top and bottom offer great coverage, so you can be active in them without worrying about exposing yourself to the world as you dive headfirst into the waves! The top follows the same trend that most of Patagonia's bras do- great support for small to mid sizes, but definitely not recommended for fuller chested women. Check it out! Patagonia Clare Bidart Racer Swimsuit!...Read more...
For my light and fast alpine adventures that require a little more warmth than my transition tights, I love to use the Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants. The perfect weight for a lightweight softshell, they are awesome on their own in warmer temperatures, and make for great cold weather wear when paired with a baselayer. The Alpine Guide Pants are super stretchy and also wind resistant, so they work great for those colder days at the crag at the end of the season, when you're trying hard to stretch rock season as long as it can go (much like all of us are doing here in the Wasatch Range right now...)! If you are wanting to invest in one softshell pant that will serve a variety of uses, I would get this one!
Women's Alpine Guide Pant
- Belt Loops! My favorite feature on any climbing pant, and surprisingly enough, not a lot of pants have them.
- Pant legs have a zippered cuff, and also an elastic drawcord, so you can cinch them down tight when necessary or open the zipper for more space.
- DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Finish makes these pants great in snow and light rain.
- Low profile zippers on pockets keep them out of the way when not in use, still leaving you access to a total of 4 pockets, but not in an obtrusive way.
Alright, now that we've covered what I regularly wear on the bottom half underneath my Mountain Khakis, lets just get the other half out of the way as well. The Patagonia Active Mesh Bra provides great support for a running/hiking/climbing bra, and also works great for everyday wear as well. Most of my days are spent transitioning from khaki pants and a nice shirt in the Speech Therapy Clinic to the trails behind the university for my treasured evening run. Fortunately, Patagonia has created a bra that can cover all the bases for me! A word about sizing for Patagonia's bras- I generally fall into what would be considered a mid-size in bras (B cup average), with about a 34 inch rib cage measurement, and I fit comfortably into a size small. This is not a bra I would recommend for fuller chested women- it offers great support for a mid-size, but would be insufficient for anything larger.
Favorite Features of the Patagonia Active Mesh Bra
- Seamless construction of bra keeps rub spots non-existent
- Thinner, V shaped straps allow you maximum movement without the straps getting in the way.
- Again, Patagonia has created some really cute patterns! No more boring sports bra black.
- The bra provides enough coverage that you can comfortably wear it on its own on hot days climbing or running without exposing too much to the world!
Just like Jason, I can't believe it's come to this. I too am reviewing underwear. Despite the odd topic, I was so impressed by Patagonia's Active Hipster Brief that it required a posting, almost immediately. Underwear, obviously, is a personal thing. To save you all the awkward details of my intimates wardrobe, lets just say that I was certainly a fan of the "lesser material" types... My theory being that no matter what you do, you're going to end up with a certain amount of material wedged, so to speak, so starting with less material would ultimately result in less discomfort. This theory held relatively true until my first encounter with a pair of the Active Hipster Briefs. Hands down, the Patagonia Active Hipster Brief is the most comfortable pair of underwear I've ever owned. These bikini cut briefs have a low rising wide waist band, which adds comfort and cuts down on bunching as you layer. The best feature of these panties is the material, which keeps it all in the same place, no matter the activity. Bottom Line (sorry, but who could resist such a great pun!?): Running, hiking, going to class, these suckers are staying put, no matter what you do in them.
Get the Skinny on Patagonia Active Hipster Briefs
- Synthetic fabric wicks moisture for those intense workouts, and also dries quickly out of the wash
- Underwear is true to size when compared to most other brands- I'm a size 2-4 in pants and the small fits just great.
- Unlike a lot of synthetic, outdoor-brand underwear, Patagonia has created some cute patterns! No more boring white, black or pink.