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 :)


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

  • Cute
  • Comfortable
  • Quick Drying
  • UV protective

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


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.


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.


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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