Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fueling an AZT FKT



At this point in my life, I have logged approximately 19,000 (!) backcountry miles across 6 thru-hikes, 3 FKT's, and dozens of shorter trips, mountain runs, and mountaineering. You would think I'd know what to eat by now...

The reality is that after being diagnosed with gluten intolerance I had to overhaul my backcountry diet. The difference showed last year on the Appalachian Trail. I felt nourished throughout my journey, yet I knew there was a lingering missing piece. Most backcountry dinners rely on starches to fill you up. Removing noodles from the equation limited my choices and I found that I was mostly relying on soy fillers (TVP and Soy Protein Isolate) and rice. While it worked, it wasn't what I truly needed.

So, while you'll recognize many of these products as the ones I've been relying on for the past two years there are some changes. Hopefully these will help anyone out there trying to find solid GF foods for their backcountry adventures.

Greenbelly Meals: Breakfast of champions right here. Over 600 calories in the package and containing 1/3 of your daily nutrition (on the macro scale) as well as vitamins and minerals. The flavor and texture are unique from most other bars on the market, which was important to me after so many days of eating bars. Their proper nutrient balance ensured I was sated for several hours and started my day right.
Favorite Flavor: Cranberry Almond

Packs a Calorie and Nutritional Punch

Trailbutter: As always Trailbutter has been a powerhouse of slow burning fuel for me on these endeavors. Since backpacking is a primarily aerobic activity the body's main source of fuel is fat coupled with small amounts of carbohydrate. Trailbutter is the perfect ratio of slow and fast burning fuel. I use the 4.5 oz resealable pouches and sip on them throughout the day.
Favorite Flavor: Expedition Espresso 

Simply the Best Nut Butter Fuel Around

Navitas Naturals: I use a wide variety of Navitas Naturals products to snack on throughout the day. Their wholesome superfoods are nutritious, delicious, and contain a variety of micronutrients to maintain overall health. Goji Berries, Mullberries, nuts, etc. The newest addition to my fueling this year is their new Superfood+ Bars. These are not only delicious, but there's no junk or filler and they come in unique flavors.
Favorite: Hemp Peanut Superfood+ Bar


Navitas Makes a Wide Variety of Superfood Fuel

Probar: I utilized both the Meal Bars and the Base (protein) bars from ProBar on the AZT. The Meal bars are a great tasting, calorie dense snack that helps keep you sated for a long time. The Base Bars were something I moved from my previous hikes' dinner menu to afternoon snack (usually right before my 45 min water break in the heat of the day). I found that the extra protein in the mid-day rest period allowed me to do a little repair work in the middle of the day.
Favorite Flavors: Meal: Oatmeal Raisin (n/a) Base: Mint-Chocolate

Ok, so I might like ProBar a lot...

Fuel100 Electro-bites: I've been using Electro-Bites in my running and racing for several years and they were critical on the Arizona Trail in the heat. I've learned that when these things taste sweet that means I'm really low on electrolytes and if they taste too salty then I'm not. This is really crucial when you're sweating a lot and also trying to drink a lot so that you keep your electrolytes and fluids balanced. I usually ate a packet of these anytime I downed 2-3 liters of water to make sure everything stayed in equilibrium.
Favorite Flavor: Salty Vanilla


Electrolytes on the Move

Nuun: This is one of the magic bullets that has been missing all these years. An effective, well balance, electrolyte drink that tastes good, isn't full of junk, and covers the flavor of cow water! In all seriousness, Nuun combined with Nuun Plus made for the perfect electrolyte + energy drink on the AZT. I alternated between Nuun Active and Nuun Energy (Energy being a caffeinated version) throughout the hike. I drank 2-3 servings per day which was the perfect amount.
Favorite Flavor: Active: Strawberry Lemonade Energy: Mango Orange

Hydrate Early and Often

PaleoMealsToGo: Paleo Meals To Go were the final key to my on-trail nutrition. Over the summer I tried them and had a feeling I'd finally found what I'd been looking for. So I used them on the Arizona Trail FKT...and...Success!!!
I've always struggled to feel like I was getting adequate protein at night and these were the ticket. They hydrate in under 20 minutes even with cold water. The flavors are delicious and they are made with quality ingredients. You can read a more detailed review here. Each night I ate one of their dinners and in the morning I could just feel that I'd repaired and recovered more than I had on other endeavors. I am thrilled to have finally found a high protein meal that hydrates cold and isn't made with fillers. Real food only. In fact, all Paleo Meals To Go are "gluten free, grain free, milk free, soy free, nut free, shelf stable, and protein-rich." I can't recommend them highly enough.

In addition to being my dinner throughout the hike, I also alternated breakfasts between Greenbelly Meal Bars and the Paleo Meals To Go Cliffside Coconut Berry or Butte Cacao Banana. These were a filling and nutritious start to the day and a good way to break up the "bar" monotony.

Favorite Flavor: Bedrock Beef ChiliButte Cacao Banana


Variety of Delicousness

Salazon Chocolate: Yes, you knew it was coming, right? There is no way I hike anywhere without my chocolate fix! Even the desert. No, I didn't have melted chocolate all over my backpack either. I did have to make a concession to the heat and save my salty Salazon for dessert each night, rather than trying to eat it during the day. In the end, I rather enjoyed it as my final treat after a delicious dinner at the end of a long day.  (Desert Dessert?!) This year I also ordered only the 72% chocolate flavors (with the exception of the coffee which is 57%) and I've been very happy with that since I prefer my chocolate as dark as possible.
Favorite Flavor: Sea Salt and Cayenne


So, it's not on the AZT, but I didn't get any headlamp shots of me devouring my chocolate...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Arizona Trail Gear Review

There's always a demand for Gear Lists and reviews after a thru-hike, so here is a brief review of the gear I used on my Arizona Trail Self-Supported FKT in October 2016. This is not an exhaustive list, primarily things I haven't reviewed before.




  • OPsack: Once again this worked well to keep my food safe from animals 
  • Bamboo spoon: I never knew I had expectations from a spoon until I started backpacking. This one meets or exceeds them all! I'm glad I switched over from Lexan. Long enough to keep your hands out of your food, lightweight, and a natural material to boot. 
  • Ultimate Direction Body Bottle Plus: I used this for making up my Nuun electrolyte drink. It worked well and collapsed down to the size of the cap when not in use. No weird mold or other growth in it despite not washing it for 3 weeks. Didn't puncture despite the pokiness of the desert.
  • Black Diamond Icon headlamp: I bought this for Barkley last year and it was incredible there. While nighthiking on the AZT I repeatedly thought, "If only I'd had this on the PCT and AT!" It's overkill unless you're doing hours and hours of night hiking since it's pretty heavy, but with lithium batteries it was bright for 3-4 hours of use 5 days in a row.
  • Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad: I'm a side sleeper and I definitely had sore hips using this on the hard desert ground. The nights I found good camp under pine trees or in washes it was comfy. However, I have that issue with any closed cell foam pad. As far as insulation this was perfect.
  • Sawyer All-In-One filter with Inline Adapter: This filter works great when installed using the inline adapter (sold separately). However, I cut the hose to the wrong length at home and had issues getting good flow. I ended up screwing the filter directly to the bladder and only using the clean side of the adapter with the remaining hose. I recommend practicing with your pack fully loaded at home so you get the filter mounted in the right place to begin with.
  • Sawyer 64 oz pouches (2): It was important to me to have a max capacity that was more than I anticipated ever needing. I carried these in addition to a platypus 2 liter for a total of a gallon and a half. I only carried that much once, but one of the Sawyer pouches did spring a leak 2 days from the end and I was glad I had a backup. It seemed like it got punctured by some desert plant. 
  • Ibex Balance Bralette:  One could say I'm getting more sophisticated. For the first time in about 10 years I wore something other than a bikini top as a hiking bra. I finally had to admit that the behind the neck ties were putting a lot of strain on my neck so I searched for an alternative. In the desert the wool was the perfect balance of warmth when it was cold, and wicking comfort when it was hot. Super comfortable I forgot it was there. Supportive enough for hiking, but definitely not for running.
  • Gossamer Gear Polycro groundcloth: I've been using these for years. 3 FKT's and counting now. In fact, I used the same one on the AZT that I used on the AT. So, any question of durability has been answered. 
  • Ultimate Direction Desert hat: Exactly what you need on your head in the desert. My only caveat was that you can't button it closed under the chin to keep it in place when it's windy.
  • Point 6 Ultra light compression socks: These were my saving grace every night. I looked forward to pulling off the gnarly hiking socks and shoes at the end of the day and getting these compression socks on. My feet felt like a million bucks every morning after a night of recovery in these!
  • Ultimate Direction Ultra jacket: The lightest rain jacket I own and perfect for squalls on the AZT. Kept me warm as an external shell on windy cold days as well. Not as good as a true hardshell during the snow/sleet/rain event on my second day, but although I still ended up wet it did keep me warm.
  • Mariposa 60 Lightweight Backpack: The new updates to this pack are great. I definitely felt that the integrated stays helped transition weight from shoulders to hips when I had a heavy load, which was often. I regularly carried a 30+lb pack due to the amount of water and food I had to pack. I also discovered load lifters for the first time ever. It was a magical moment.
  • Altra Paradigm shoes: As a Lone Peak girl I went back and forth over my choice to wear the Paradigm (a road shoe) on the AZT. In the end it worked out, but not without some serious issues. The first pair wore perfectly since the northern 400 miles is mostly dirt road. However, the southern half chewed up and spit out the second pair. Far more rocky. Comfort-wise they were a great choice and I'd wear them again, I'd just do three pair or wear a Lone Peak for the Mazatzal and Superstition Wildernesses.
  • Montbell Tachyon Jacket: This jacket was perfect for windy days and chilly mornings/nights. Critical as my warm layer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Montbell Down Hugger 800 #0 Degree Sleeping Bag Review

After years of freezing my buns in high alpine camps I was pleased to finally get a good quality zero degree bag. I'd been wanting to try one of Montbell's Down Hugger 800 bags for a long time since I'm an "active" sleeper. 

Given that we had the summer of no summer in the Pacific Northwest I also got a lot of opportunities to use a zero degree bag, even though it arrived in June. I've used it both as a back country bag and in the front country and overall been very pleased with it.

The Down Hugger is sewn with several "tricks" using elasticized thread, bias cut fabric, and seam line alignment that make it "stretchy." The bag moves with you while you sleep eliminating drafts. The main reason I could never go the way of the quilt is that I'd never get any sleep. I toss and turn and roll around constantly. The Down Hugger truly does stay with me, keeping me warm, and yet I don't wake up panicked in the middle of the night because I'm in the mummy hood backward and can't breathe. (true story, this happened all the time in my old mummy bag)

The hood of the Down Hugger has a nice neck baffle that provides additional draft blocking. I like that it adjusts independently from the hood cinch so that I can vent the bag differently depending on conditions.

At 2 lbs, 14 oz it is the heaviest sleeping bag I've ever owned, but on the nights I'm dug into the snow at 7,000 ft or more I'm perfectly content to have carried it up there.

The only drawback to this bag is that they do not offer a "short" or female specific fit. I swim in the regular and as such, it doesn't keep me as warm as a 0 degree bag with less internal airspace would.

A note on the down: Montbell assures that it never buys down from "operations that practice “live-plucking” methods. We only utilize Down plumes and feathers collected as a by-product of water fowl raised to meet the demands of the food industry." I appreciate this company stance.





I am a Montbell Athlete and receive my gear at no cost.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Montbell Wickron Stretch Trail Dress Review

I am a Montbell Athlete and receive my clothing at no cost.

It's not exactly a secret that I hike in dresses and skirts. So, when I began working with Montbell I was super excited to find that they make a trail dress and skirt. So I had to get one of each to give them a try!

First of all, I love the colors. Bright and happy, perfect :)

backpackin'

Secondly, even though the fabric is a little heavier than many of my thrift store finds it truly lives up to the claims and wicks very well. I wore the skirt on one of the hottest weekends of the summer and was perfectly comfortable and not soggy at all.

Cute and comfy

I will say that the sizing again can be a little tricky. I find that I fall right between small and medium in Montbell's clothing and with the dress I should have gone with the small rather than the medium. The small skirt is perfect.

Doughgob, WA

I do wish that the dress came in another light color besides white, since god knows I'll make a mess of that on my first hike. It would be cooler than the dark blue.

Bull's Tooth, WA

The fabric of both skirt and dress offers UV protection and I like the cap sleeves on the dress which protect my oh-so-often burned shoulders from the sun without annoying me. I usually find short sleeves incredibly annoying in length. The dress also has mesh panels in the underarm which keeps it cool.
Perfect for transition weather

The dress will make a great Fall and Spring piece as well when I layer it over tights.

Comfort and performance in a wide range of climates

Pros:
  • Cute
  • Comfortable
  • Quick Drying
  • UV protective

Cons:
  • Sizing can be a little hard to get right
Bannock Mountain, WA




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

realness

To be real in a world of virtual reality, social media perfection, and mindless screen time is a difficult thing.
To carry on through criticism from people who don't even know you seems practically impossible, at least to me.
You see, I am tender and soft and squishy on the inside, no matter how tough it might appear I am.
You don't know how many times I have wanted to say f*ck it and delete every single aspect of my online presence over the last few years.

It's only because of beautiful, fragile, open, REAL people who post here, message me, stop me on the trails etc, that I don't.

Because the stories they tell me, the encouragement they share, the fact that so many of YOU find inspiration in my life is why I don't.

Be kind to everyone, even those online. The ugly hurtful things people type are often reflections of the ugly, hurtful things they feel about themselves. Be kind, even to those who aren't. I remind myself of this when I find myself sobbing while reading commentary about me written by people who have never even met me.

I am introverted. I am shy. I am quiet and really very boring, having nothing to talk about except the mountains. Talk about being the wallflower at every party? No one ever wants to talk to the woman who needs an explanation of any and all pop culture references.

And yet somehow my boring, mono focused life is engaging, inspiring. Perhaps because it's real in a world where nearly everything is fake.

I don't try to take great selfies. I don't own a hairbrush and I can't tell eyeliner from lip gloss. I am blessed to receive gear from some wonderful companies, but honestly, if it sucks I'll tell you (and them). I don't care what anyone thinks of me and I'm sure it shows.

This is MY one beautiful fragile life and even though I'd be just as happy living amongst the bears and lions and peaks and rivers without another member of my species forever, I also love and value this opportunity to share with you all.

I remain active here in the digital realm because I know it matters. Being real, being honest, being connected to the earth and being open to facing the things that scare me (and sharing those journeys with you) matter in a world where it is easy to become disconnected from our place as a mammal meant to roam.

I may never break another record (so what?). Sometimes I'm not sure I even want to climb another mountain. But I know I will always find my home in the wild places. I know I'll never be content to stop pushing myself to grow and face fears. I know I will never ever stop loving the life I have been given and the beauty of the natural world.

I am thankful to have this community to share that with. I wish even more that we could share a sunset, a summit, or a rainy day on trail together, laughing at the moment, the mud, the beauty and the realness of life.

xo
Anish

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Montbell Cliff Pants Review

I am a Montbell Athlete and therefore receive my clothing at no charge. 


My old hiking pants were pretty much shredded and so I got a pair of Montbell Cliff Pants to try out.

MtAffee Peak, NV

The first thing I noticed about the Cliff Pants was how thick the fabric is. Yet, they don't seem to be that much hotter than my previous pair (Sherpa brand). Evenso, I wouldn't probably want to wear these on very hot humid days.

Ridgeline Rest Stop
I've been impressed by their water repellency, quick dry capability, and durability. I've bushwhacked through some serious PNW terrain in them and they look new.

Mt. Timpanagos, UT
Despite their thickness I wore them throughout our Nevada peakbagging trip in June and was impressed at how well they protected my legs from the sage and chaparral. As I mentioned, they were on the warm side, but still comfortable enough in the 80+ degree heat.

Duffer Peak, NV
They are quite comfortable with four way stretch and articulated knees. I've had no issues scrambling or crawling over deadfall in them...or doing summit jump antics. Unlike many women's pants they have adequate, deep pockets on the sides as well as a zippered pocket on the back which makes for a secure location for a car key.

Mt. Adams, WA

I do find that they run a little snug with the small being a bit tight for me and the medium a bit too loose. So, depending on how you want them to fit, take that into consideration.

Duffer Peak, NV

Overall, I highly recommend these as a durable, comfortable, and burly adventure pant.

Pros:

  • Water Repellent
  • Quick Drying
  • Comfortable Stretch without losing shape
  • Durable
  • Functional and flattering


Cons:

  • Uncomfortably hot in really warm weather 


Ruby Dome, NV

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Paleo Meals To Go Review

My friend Rachel gave me a Paleo Meals To Go dinner to try out the night before we climbed Mt. Hood. I was excited to try something new that was guaranteed not to have any gluten in it. And not be based on rice either. While I'm not an adherant of any specific diet, I generally avoid grains, most dairy, a lot of soy, etc. So these meals seemed perfect.

Twas the night before Hood...

I was immediately impressed with the flavor so I contacted the company and got one of each of their meals to try out. I've been experimenting with them over the last month or so with cold hydration methods. They have worked out super well!

Assorted Yums

Pros:

  • Rehydrate cold or hot very well
  • Texture is great (even the chicken)
  • Flavors are incredible. It's obvious that they use high quality ingredients.
  • Nutritious and filling
  • Meet my dietary restrictions


Refueling between Top 100 Peaks

Cons:

  • More than once the packaging has leaked during the cold rehydration process. I've learned to circumvent this by sealing the bag and then folding it down and sealing inside a quart Ziploc for good measure. Let sit in a place it won't get squished in the pack.



Cliffside Breakfast with Cliffs

The breakfasts are incredibly calorie dense. ~600 calories each. They do come out a little weird texture-wise if you don't get the water just right, but I'm playing with my own preference. I add water the night before and let sit. Ready for the morning. They taste like smoothie cereals. Delicious (although on the sweet side).

Summit Breakfast on Mt. Olympus

The dinners are savory, high in protein and filling despite being less calories than I'm used to (~400 each meal). They probably wouldn't sate a thru-hiker after a thousand miles or so, but the nutrition quality is such that I would probably just eat two (or do a PMTG with some other snacks). For my current mountain trips they are more than adequate.

Dinner (and Breakfast) Prep in Camp

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid Review

I am an Altra Athlete and therefore receive my shoes at no cost. However, the reviews here are my own opinions and not requested by the company.

I was lucky enough to get a sample pair of the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid's to take with me to New Zealand this spring and to tramp all over the PNW in this summer. I totally wore them out. I am so excited that they are finally on the market so I can get a new pair...and tell everyone about them!

Overlooking the Summit Crater of Ruapehu, NZ

I refer to them as the "shoeboots" mainly because of their shape (remember the high top days of the 90's?) and their flexibility and functionality. To be clear though: these are NOT boots, just boot "shaped".

With the crater of "Mt.. Doom" NZ

I definitely find the perfect niche for these as approach shoes through rough terrain as well as a great shoe for scramble routes involving scree, talus, and scrambling. I've even done some technical climbs in them.
On the Tongariro Circuit, NZ

The NeoShell is an excellent waterproofing and I was able to ford shallow streams without my feet getting wet because of the mid-top. This came in very handy both in New Zealand and also in the PNW, both very wet. They will leak a little around the lacing, so your feet would get wet with an extended submersion. For a step or two through water however, they work great.

Drying out after a day of wading upriver in the Kaikoura

I found them to be excellent in the snow, with and without snowshoes. The NeoShell was warm and insulating. They were fairly comfortable with snowshoes and crampons, although not as comfortable as actual boots. 

Lennox Peak, WA
As with all Altras the FootShape Toe box and ZeroDrop Platform is essential for comfort and foot function.
Running Ridges near Arthur's Pass, NZ

I highly recommend these to anyone who wants the comfort of a trail runner combined with the ankle support of a boot. I also recommend them to anyone looking to do winter or wet weather running. I think these will find a great niche among Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers.

Ascending Malachite Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
I wore them at the Barkley Marathons this year and will do so again. They were perfect.

At the Yellow Gate, 2016


Pros:
Comfort of the Lone Peak trail runner
Ankle Stability in rough terrain
Insulated and warm in cold weather/snow
Waterproof in low water crossings, even with submersion (although they do leak a little around the lacing)
Multi-functional (scrambling, trail, technical climbing, snow)
Good tread

Overlooking Mt. Cook Village, NZ

Cons:
The NeoShell on one toe box tore on a rock my first time out. Considering the amount of miles I put on them without another incident I think this was a fluke. However, keep in mind that NeoShell fabric apparently is not tear resistant and that really renders the insulation and waterproofness moot if a tear occurs. Shoe goo repairs can be made.
The tread will not hold up any better than other Lone Peaks on scree/talus. As I said, these are not a replacement for real mountaineering boots.

Summit of Manakau, NZ


Specs (for women's model from altrarunning.com):
  • WEIGHT: 10 oz. / 283 g
  • Cushioning: Moderate
  • STACK HEIGHT: 25 mm
  • SIZES: 5.5-11, 12
  • IDEAL USES: Trail Running, Hiking, Fastpacking, Trail Racing, Cold Weather, Wet Conditions
  • PLATFORM: Natural Foot Positioning: FootShape™ Toe Box with Fully Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform
  • DESIGNED TO IMPROVE: Running Form, Toe Splay, Stability, Push-off, Comfort, Traction
  • INSOLE: 5 mm Contour Footbed
  • OTHER FEATURES: StoneGuard™ Sandwiched Rock Protection, Natural Ride System, GaiterTrap™ Technology
  • LAST: SD6-M / SD5-W
  • MIDSOLE: EVA with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • OUTSOLE: Altra MaxTrac Sticky Rubber with TrailClaw™
  • UPPER: Abrasion-Resistant Mesh with Minimal Seams, Polartec®
Where will the Mid's take you?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Altra Running Golden Spike Review

I am an AltraRunning Athlete and receive my shoes at no cost. However, the reviews here are not required by the company and are my own opinions.

While I am not a x-country runner, I was intrigued by the Golden Spike X-Country shoe by Altra. Designed to be used on x-country courses it's a minimal shoe weighing only a smidge over 5 oz with spikes for added traction. Despite it's sock like fit, the Golden Spike delivers everything you've come to expect from Altra with a FootShape™ Toe Box and  fully cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform.

Mine arrived in the mail the day before I was headed out for a long solo peakbagging push deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The roundtrip would require about 38 miles of maintained trail/bootpath/easy cross country travel and 12 miles of boot only terrain (crampon only snowfields, scree, talus, etc). It seemed like a no brainer to wear this minimal shoe on the easier terrain so that when I swapped to boots I wouldn't be carrying a heavy pair of trail runners on my back.

It proved to be an excellent choice. The Golden Spike performed well on dirt trail, as well as the bootpath, heather slopes, and even some mellow snow patches. Traction was excellent in mud, dirt, and snow, and I couldn't hardly feel that I was wearing shoes.

Break time with my favorite WA mountain

On the way out from my hike I encountered a wildfire that had flared up and was burning across the trail. I weighed my options and decided that the safest thing to do was to bushwhack downstream in a creek to get around it. I didn't stop to think that the shoes I had on might not be suitable (I was more concerned with getting the hell out of there). I plunged into the water and thrashed downstream through berry bushes, sticks, debris, and general PNW vegetation before regaining the trail below the fire. I was happy to have a running shoe on at that point, because I definitely ran!

Surprisingly, when I got back to my car I saw that aside from being muddy the uppers were intact with no major damage. Much more durable than they seemed on first inspection.

I may have found my new favorite approach shoe for long peakbagging trips. Given how rounded the spikes were afterward though, I may remove them for trips where I don't anticipate needing them to cross vegetated slopes, mud and/or snow.

Pros:
Excellent traction
Minimal weight
Comfortable for long distances
Durable upper (so far)

Cons:
Upper bleeds when wet (turned my feet pink)
Need to size down for proper fit
Descending for a long time rubbed a sore on my big toe joint (probably because I didn't size down when ordering)
Spikes were quite rounded after 38 miles of wear on a variety of terrain

After 38 miles and a bushwhack wildfire dodge

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Luna Sandals, Tabu, and Tabi Socks Review

I received my Luna products at no charge, however the review was not requested by the company.

Growing up I wore flip flops or was barefoot, pretty much until I hiked the AT in 2003. So that's 21 years of minimal footwear. I read Born to Run and my boyfriend calls the huge muscles on the bottoms of my feet "the Beasts". So really it's no surprise that my feet are happiest in foot shaped Altras and minimal Luna Sandals.

The perfect sandal seaside and mountainside


I have been wearing Luna Sandals for over a year now and I can absolutely say they are awesome. They conform to your feet over time and are incredibly comfortable and durable. The accessories are well thought out and functional. Best of all this company is located right down the street from me and welcomes you to pop in and have a look. If you want to buy sandals they make them on the spot for you. Very, very cool.

Day to Day Lunas in Fiji


Here are the models I've tried:
Luna Mono
Luna Mono Gordo
Tabu
Tabi Sock


The Luna Mono was my first pair and I've worn them all over the place. Super comfortable, great traction and an excellent all around sandal.
Specs:
Weight: 4.6 oz (single sandal, men's size 9)
Thickness: 12mm
Sole: Vibram® USA

Luna Monos go with skirts...and trails

A few months later I picked up a pair of the Mono Gordo Trail Lunashe first thing I did was wear them on wet pavement to help push my boyfriends motorcycle up a steep driveway. The two men helping me were wearing sturdy shoes and both slipped a bit, the trail Lunas didn't. I went on to take them to New Zealand and Fiji and wore them hiking on several trails that were more river than trail as well as day to day in Fiji.
Specs:
Weight: 7.2 oz (single sandal, men's size 9)
Thickness: 19mm
Sole: Vibram®

The "trail" to Manakau was more river than trail

What about cold feet? Yeah, mine usually are and I don't stop wearing sandals just because it's winter. So I picked up a pair of the Polar Feet Tabi Socks. Pretty much the most amazing addition to sandals ever made. I wore them in camp throughout our NZ trip as well as every nigh on our winter desert peakbagging excursions. I'm afraid I'll wear these out long before my sandals!

Tabi Socks at camp in New Zealand
I used to carry flip flops as a camp shoe on my thru-hikes. On my FKT's I ditched them for weight savings. Then, I discovered the Tabu Booties. Based on the traditional Japanese tabi the Tabu is made to mate perfectly with Luna Sandals. The upper is a water-resistant nylon with a thin cotton lining. However, the sole is a durable textured rubber that bonds to the Luna Sandal. So it's perfect for wearing in conjuction with your sandals when your tootsies want to be covered.
I've made the Tabu my camp shoe of choice now and toss the 1.5 oz pair of fold flat "shoes" into my backpack on nearly every trip. Lighter and warmer than flip flops, what's not to love?!

Tabu''s ready for the next adventure!








Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sawyer Products Stay Put Sunscreen Review

I am an ambassador for Sawyer Products and as such receive my products for free. However, this review is my personal opinion and not required by the company.


Most hikers know about Sawyer Products excellent water filters by now (see my review here). But they also make a wide variety of other items essential to exploring the outdoors. 

I've been using Sawyer's Stay Put Sunscreen for over a year and have found it to really "stay put". This summer my boyfriend and I went to Nevada, Utah, California, Oregon, and Idaho to climb a lot of peaks. They were almost all above 9,000ft and many were above 10. In anticipation of this trip and several glacier climbs I ordered some SPF 50 sunscreen from Sawyer.

I was incredibly impressed with how long an application of the SPF 50 lasted. Usually I only needed one application per day, despite sweating. When I looked into it, I found the following on their website:

"Through our experience as the primary supplier of sunscreen to the troops in the Gulf War, we learned just how important it is to hold a sunscreen in place even in extreme conditions. In our research, we were able to identify how the skin accepts, rejects, or processes sunscreens. With that knowledge we have developed revolutionary techniques for keeping our sunscreen formulas in place. Check out how Sawyer Sunscreen is Simply, Better."

The efficacy of it now made sense.

It's the height of summer. If you're looking for a bomber sunscreen to get you through the dog days I highly recommend Sawyer Products Stay-Put Sunscreen, especially the SPF 50.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bskinz.com Shorts Review

It's not really a secret that I love wild colors and funky designs...


So, I was super stoked to find an affordable source for my shorts and tights...Bskinz.com.

They have a ton of designs in prices ranging from $5 for shorts up to the $30 range in tights/capris. So far I have only bought shorts and I've been pretty pleased with them. All of their compression shorts patterns come in either regular shorts length (6" inseam), or spankies length (2.5" inseam). I've tried both. They also do custom lengths. This is a small US company and inexpensive flat rate shipping ($5).



So far I have done some ascents as well as varying length runs in the shorts and they have been excellent.

What I love:
Colors and Patterns
Cost
Comfort
Coolness/Wicking properties

What could be better:
Durability



The only drawback to these shorts is that as a thinner fabric they aren't as durable. After about a dozen icy glissades they're showing some signs of wear. However, icy glissading is outside the performance scope of most spandex shorts...so that doesn't really count as a failing of the product!

The thinner fabric means they are cooler and wick better than many spandex shorts I've tried.