Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review of Fast, Light and Free by Matt Kirk

I was honored that Matt sent me a copy of his book to read last fall after I returned from my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Not only did it give me insight into the man whose record I had chased for nearly two months, but it also was a way to compare and contrast my own experiences with someone who had done something so similar to me.

I've read Jennifer Pharr-Davis' book Called Again, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it (review to come!) there remained a disconnect due to the different approaches (supported/self-supported). Fast, Light and Free was the first account I've read of someone doing an FKT on a long trail in the same manner as me and I could identify so completely with it.

Matt's writing speaks not just to the logistics and mileage of his journey, but also the emotional and spiritual levels of it. I found myself resonating often with his observations. I also found myself completely in awe of his minimal gear set up and minuscule pack! I felt a bit like a sherpa looking at my photos alongside his.

One other interesting parallel is that he set the (now previous) self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail the same day I set the self-supported FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013. I couldn't help but think of where I was in my own journey that year as I read his daily account as well as compare it to my own hike of the AT last summer. I felt this incredible intermingling of journey throughout the story.

While others won't be able to experience that level of connection while reading it is still very enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who wants a peek into the world of self-supported FKT's. My only caveat is that his many flashbacks can get confusing sometimes so I sometimes found myself looking back to see when and where he was referencing. Overall this is minor and doesn't really detract from the quality of the read.

You can buy your copy on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Point 6 Socks Review

I am an ambassador for Point 6 and as such receive my socks for free. However, this review was not requested by the company and is my own opinion of the product.

I have been a huge fan of wool clothing, socks, and gloves for many years now. I was pretty excited to be chosen as an ambassador for Point6 Merino this year.

Among the major benefits of wool are that it's warm when wet, relatively less stinky and comfortable against the skin. As you can imagine all of these factors are extra important when it comes to your feet!

I've used a wide variety of wool socks over the years. I've had a wide range of experiences with them and I've been very pleased with the way Point6 products stand out.

Quality: Not only are the Point6 Merino socks well made, but they offer a lifetime guarantee.
Durability: I've had wool socks start wearing out after a dozen uses. So far the Point6 socks still look new.
Comfort: They are not constrictive or too thick or too thin. The sizing is true and no irritating seams.
Attractiveness: Most wool socks have been pretty boring. Not Point6! I've got a ton of fun wool running socks, cute compression socks, and even the monochrome trekking socks I wear mountaineering have a nice style.
Variety: Weather you run, hike, climb, ski or just want casual socks Point6 has you covered.

I also love the ethos of the company. See a list of the non-profits they support. 
"We understand that Point6 has the power to create big and positive changes in our world.  We partner with numerous non-profit organizations that can get socks to people in need.  We also support organizations who help maintain, preserve, and educate about all of the outdoor places we all enjoy. "

If you're looking for a great wool sock then I definitely recommend Point6!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Addaday Pro Massage Roller Review

I received a sample of the Addaday Pro Massage Roller at the winter Outdoor Retailer show in January. I've been using a variety of foam rollers and self-massage tools for many years now and when I saw the Addaday products I was immediately intrigued.

There were several things I noticed immediately about the Addaday rollers that made them stand out.
  • Individual textured rollers
  • Differing size rollers
  • Varying levels of hardness in one roller

Addaday Pro Massage Roller

Lately I've become much more interested in fascia health and not just trying to "loosen stiff muscles."
I've been using the Addaday since January and have been pleased with the results. The textured surface of the rollers tacks skin and helps get the layers of skin, fascia, and muscle tissue gliding past one another again.

The thing I most like about the Addaday rollers is that they are truly an all in one tool. Prior to getting this I used a therapy ball, foam roller, and The Stick. The varying size and hardness of the rollers on the Addaday allow me to work every area from my neck to my toes with just one tool. It's also relatively easy to travel with.

If you're looking for ways to utilize the Addaday the company also has a nice series of instructional videos with Timothy Olsen on it's website.

Overall, I highly recommend the Addaday Pro if you are looking for a self massage roller, especially if you are looking to buy just one tool.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review of Backpacking Buddies by Arlette "Apple Pie" Laan

Before I left for the Appalachian Trail in 2015 my dear friend Apple Pie gave me something to keep me company...

It's that little pink fluffy dolly hanging on my backpack.

Yes, yes, I carried something non-essential on my AT FKT.

Because I wanted to have a little smiling pink sweetie to keep me company.

Arlette makes a whole army of little sock dollies to suit your every whim. You can see what she has in stock here. Some, like the one I carried, are made from baby socks and are keychain size. 

Courtesy ArletteLaan.com

The little guy that I carried weighed probably an ounce? Miniscule for the amount of cheer it brought me when I was tired and dirty and hungry. Not only because of it's cute little face, but because a fellow long distance hiker and friend made it for me.

She also makes a selection of backpacking dollies that are a little bigger, but still plush. They also make great hiking companions.

Courtesy ArletteLaan.com
Courtesy ArletteLaan.com

Whether you are looking for a little happy camper to join you or want a gift for a friend check out Arlette's selection!

Pinky and I at the ATC

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Altra Running Apparel Review: Performance Skirt, Performance Tank, Performance Tee

I am an Altra Running Athlete and as such receive my apparel at no cost. I choose to write reviews on my blog for those who are interested. I am under no obligation from the company to do so, and the opinions expressed here are just that: my honest opinions based on my personal experience with the products reviewed.

When I was at the winter Outdoor Retailer show in January I got a sneak peak at many of the awesome things Altra Running is coming out with this year. Among those were some of their apparel pieces. I was stoked to get 3 items to take to New Zealand with me to try out: Performance Skirt, Performance Tank, Performance Tee.

Performance Tee and Skirt on Mt. Torless, NZ

I will sum it up by saying that I loved every item and am super pleased with this lineup that Altra is offering. I'll go into a little more detail on each item below.

Altra Running Apparel and Mids rock off-trail in New Zealand

Performance Skirt
I'm typically not a fan of running skirts/skorts. They are always heavy and slow drying which defeats the point of wearing a skirt in the first place. I also don't like the skort since I wear skirts because I like skirts. If I want to wear shorts then I'll just wear them. So, I was pleased as punch with the Performance Skirt from Altra Running. 

Number one, it's light. Seriously, this skirt weighs 2.6 ounces. That's incredible. 

Secondly, it wicks and dries uber fast. I tend to be a heavy sweater on my back when I wear a pack and often find my shorts stay uncomfortably damp for way too long. This skirt never seemed to hold moisture.

Cons: I am concerned by the California Prop 65 warning on the product. I haven't heard back from Altra what exactly it's referring to, but it's certainly worth taking into consideration when purchasing.

Performance Skirt on Lake Hill, NZ

Performance Tank

Just like the skirt this tank is light. It weighs in at under 2 ounces. That makes a combined outfit weight of under 5 ounces. My thrift store dress days are probably behind me. And that's saying something. 

This tank also wicks and dries crazy fast. Even with the heavy back sweat under a pack the tank never seemed to hold moisture for more than a few minutes after I removed my pack.

I thought the front perforations looked weird at first, but honestly the peekaboo effect with my bright sports bras was cute.

The semi-fitted cut was super comfortable and I felt like I wasn't even wearing anything. I wish I'd had this for the overbearingly humid Appalachian Trail last summer!

Cons: I am concerned by the California Prop 65 warning on the product. I haven't heard back from Altra what exactly it's referring to, but it's certainly worth taking into consideration when purchasing.

Performance Tank on Bounty Island, Fiji

Performance Tee

The tee weighs in just a tad less than the skirt at 2.4 ounces. It's by far my lightest tech tee. I also like that it is reflective on both sides since I often run in town. 

I wasn't sure I'd like the mesh back, but it wasn't at all irritating. Mostly I just felt like I wasn't even wearing anything. 

I like the looser fit making it super comfortable for long days.

Just like the rest of the series it dries wicked fast.

Cons: I am concerned by the California Prop 65 warning on the product. I haven't heard back from Altra what exactly it's referring to, but it's certainly worth taking into consideration when purchasing.

Performance Tee in a Tree, NZ ;)