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




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