Holiday Gear Guide & Giveaway

‘Tis the season of snow and skiing.

And holiday gift guides.Just Trails Holiday Gear Guide.001This year Al & I put our heads together to think about the gear that has really outperformed the rest this past year. So, we threw together this nifty list of our current favorite gear…just in case you’re looking for the perfect gift for the trail lover on your list.

We’re also giving away a Snowy Range & Pole Mountain Trail Deck, details are at the end of the post.

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Al & I both LOVE our Ribz front packs, because we love being able to easily access everything that we need. You can read a review here or here or shop for one right here.

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The Vargo Hexagon Wood stove isn’t a perfect piece of gear, but we like that it’s lightweight, small and fun to use. You can check out a review here or here or shop for one right here
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If we’re purifying a small amount of water we really like our SteriPEN. You can read what we wrote about it right here or shop for one here. 
Just Trails Holiday Gear Guide.006Confession: We bought this hammock at Walmart and we love it. Our kids love it too, we won’t go camping without it. Proof that you don’t always need the expensive, name brand outdoor product to have a good time. We probably paid $20.00 for it, you can shop for a inexpensive hammock right here.

Just Trails Holiday Gear Guide.007I’m more of a Deuter girl but Al is all about the Camelbak Mule. It’s just the right size for a day on the trails. You can learn more right here.

Just Trails Holiday Gear Guide.008 And don’t forget about the awesomeness of outdoor education. Stay tuned for our 2016 Backcountry Navigation class schedule and the launch of our online navigation courses.Just Trails Holiday Gear Guide.002Get the trail guide that Laramie’s in love with…the Snowy Range & Pole Mountain Trail Deck. You can order one right here (we offer FREE shipping) or enter below to win one!

Note: Giveaway entry period starts 11/20

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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p.s. Wondering what to get your outdoor lovin’ kids for the holidays? Head on over to Moms Who Hike to check it out and enter to win a FREE pair of Tubbs Snowflake Snowshoes.


p.p.s Don’t forget about the outdoor lovin’ woman in your life too! We’ve got a gear guide over on Hike Like A Woman too, and we’re giving away a pair of Tubbs Women’s Snowshoe Gaiters.


Watson’s Double Layer Long Underwear {Gear Review}

I’ll admit.

I’m a base layer snob.

Several months ago when we were contacted to test out a set of Watson’s double layer long underwear I jumped at the chance to see if they would meet my high standards.

High standards as in the long underwear couldn’t be too hot or too cold, must properly wick away sweat, must fit properly and move with my body while I ski, snowshoe, or chase children down a trail or around the monkey bars.

Watson's long underwear

So I wore this set of long underwear several times a day for several months. It was always either in our laundry basket or on my body. Sometimes I wore the top as a shirt when I was running errands around town. Sometimes I wore the bottoms as leggings with a down skirt when chasing my kids around the park.

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While testing this long underwear I paid close attention to temperature, wicking ability and fit and here’s what I found.

Temperature & Wicking 

With the bipolar weather that we’ve been having all winter I discovered that for me this base layer is just the right temperature for layering. It’s not too hot, not too cold when engaging in physical activity.

watsons 1

I expected this to be bulky since it is a double layer system but it’s not much thicker than a normal base layer.

The one thing that I’m not crazy about is the 60/40 cotton/polyester blend. It makes for a soft base layer but compromises it’s wicking and quick drying abilities.

Fit

For my body the fit of long sleeve top was perfect through the chest and shoulders but the sleeves were a little bit too short.

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The bottoms fit perfectly for the first 10-15 minutes I’d wear them but then after a little bit of physical activity they’d loosen up around the hip, thighs and crotch. They were also too short. So, the snug fit I was hoping for with the bottoms just didn’t work out.

The Verdict

This was a set of long johns that I really, really wanted to fall in love with, especially since the price is so affordable ($25.00 USD for a top and $25.00 USD for a bottom). I’ll probably keep on wearing the top, but not the bottoms. For me, the comfortable fit and moisture wicking quality that I was looking for just wasn’t there. However, Watson’s does make a bamboo long underwear which sounds intriguing and just added merino wool to their inventory so I just might have to check them out. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Ladies Double Layer (top and bottom) for free from Watson’s as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

Gear That Won’t Live to See Another Year

Gear.

It’s what keeps us on the trails.

We like gear that keeps us warm. Gear that keeps us dry. Gear that weighs next to nothing. Gear that is indestructible. But most importantly, we love gear that doesn’t cost us a fortune.

But here’s the problem with gear.

Sometimes a product that we really want to love doesn’t perform as expected. This is the gritty truth about a few pieces of gear that haven’t lived up to our standards in 2014–gear that won’t live to see another year.

1. Mountain Hardwear Gravitor Dry. Q Elite Jacket

I’ve been disappointed in Mountain Hardwear lately. Three years ago I was a diehard fan. Now I don’t think I’ll buy anything else Mountain Hardwear unless I get it for a screaming good deal, and even then I’ll have to think twice.

You can read about my entire sage with my Gravitor Dry Q. Elite jacket here but let’s just say that my first 6 months with this coat were awesome. Then the velcro around the wrist of both sleeves bit the dust. Then the zipper broke. My latest issue with this coat is that the right pocket blew out. All I did was try to unzip it on a day when the temperature was hovering right around -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Now I have no pocket and insulation without a home.

mountain hardwear

What I’m wearing instead. An Isis for Women down jacket that I found on a clearance rack for 70% off. I don’t know what’s going on with Isis (not that jerks in Iraq), some sort of rebranding thing but so far I dig my new jacket.

2. Geigerrig Mom’s Pack

A few years ago there was a lot of hype in the outdoor community about a new daypack designed just for Mom’s. After reading a few honest reviews from respected outdoor bloggers I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. (You can read the reviews here, here, here and here.

At first I balked at the price of this pack…$148.00! That’s a lot of money for a pack, especially a pack designed for Mom’s but doesn’t change dirty diapers for me. So, when I got my hands on a pack for 90 bucks I was quite excited.

My first year with this pack was a dream. I loved all the pockets keeping everything organized. I loved the size of the pack and just the fact that there was an outdoor pack designed for me, a Mom who hikes 3-5 + times/week with my kiddos.

Then my love affair ended. For the past year the pack has come undone at the seams, the fabric is fraying and it’s clear that this pack isn’t really designed for an outdoor Mom. It’s designed to sit in a closet. I’m retiring this pack as soon as I can figure out a suitable replacement. I’m sad to retire it because it was expensive and I liked it, but I’m disappointed in the quality of this pack. So much so that I doubt I will ever purchase another Geigerrig product again. I’m not even sure if Geigerrig still makes this pack.

geigerrig

3. Stainless Steel Nalgene

Here’s how we feel about Nalgene products. Normally we love them. Al has been a diehard stainless steel Nalgene fan for a while.

I mean he can make coffee in it for crying out loud!

After his first one acquired a leaky lid after just a few months of use he was convinced it was a fluke. So he ordered a new one from Nalgene. It showed up dented but he kept it anyway without sending it back. It had character he said.

It also acquired a leaky lid and after just a few months of use ended up in the garbage can.

Our love affair with Nalgene’s stainless bottle has ended too. It’s a sad day for all. 

Have you experienced any gear failures in 2014? 

Black Friday Gear Guide for Outdoor Families

Gear.

I don’t really know when I morphed into a gearhead but it’s been a subtle evolution. We could blame it on hours and hours on the trails, or just trying to make life easier as we schlep our kids up and down mountains.

Whatever the reason it’s the perfect time of year to talk about our current favorite pieces of gear.

We aren’t sponsored by any of the companies that we’re about to mention, this isn’t a promoted post and most of the equipment we’ve purchased ourselves and used for years so we can say without a doubt that these are our favorite pieces of gear.

1. Thule Chariot 

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When I was pregnant with William (who is now 3 1/2) the first thing I did was try to figure out where to purchase a Chariot. This piece of equipment is vital when it comes to getting outdoors with children. We opted for a single Chariot over a double and I’m glad we did, it’s much more maneuverable and less cumbersome to pull when skiing and cycling.

I love that I can push one kid in the Chariot, and carry another on my back over easy trails. I also love that we can use it cycling around town and especially cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. Our Chariot logged hundreds of miles on dirt trails this summer, often with a sleeping toddler inside.

My biggest complaint about the Chariot is that the company has recently been purchased by Thule. Chariot had amazing customer service but we’ve learned that Thule does not.

My second complaint is that it’s easy to lose the pins that connect the telescoping poles to the Chariot when using the ski attachment and it’s nearly impossible to get replacements (sigh, Chariot did sell replacement parts but Thule does not). We have since improvised with zip-ties, something that I think I shouldn’t have to do on such an expensive piece of equipment.

But nonetheless, I love this thing and it is worth every penny. If you’re an outdoor family with babies, toddlers or preschoolers you need a Chariot. Don’t forget the bicycle and cross-country ski kits.

Check it out on Amazon.
Chariot

2. Ergo Performance Carrier

ERgo

On our group hikes I get asked about baby carriers a lot. I confess that I can’t tell you about the Boba or Onya baby carriers that are all the rage but I can tell you that I’ve used the same Ergo carrier every day for 3 1/2 years. From walks around the block, to traveling, to scaling 13,000 foot mountain peaks. I’ve front carried infants around the block in the middle of the night to get them to stop fussing and back carried toddlers through airports. This thing is amazing, durable and able to withstand some serious use and abuse.

My current favorite thing about it, it’s size and ability able to fit it into the back of our Kelty Journey backpack carrier just in case I end up carrying both children.

Check it out on Amazon: ERGO Baby Carrier – Performance Grey

3. MyMayu boots

My Mayu

A few weeks ago I was grocery shopping (one kid in the cart, another on my back in the Ergo). The kid in the Ergo fell asleep and just as he did both of the rain boots that he was wearing slipped off. We were in the middle of Walmart on a busy Saturday afternoon and there I was missing two expensive kids rainboots. Had my kid been wearing a pair of MyMayu boots this wouldn’t have happened.

My Mayu boots are a relatively new addition to our family. After hiking through endless puddles this fall and noticing that my kids always had wet shoes and not so much support in regular old rubber boots I decided to try out a pair of MyMayu’s. So far I’m impressed with the quality, material, soft rubber sole, packability, and customer service offered by MyMayu. I love that they have a built in gaiter that can be cinched up to keep water and snow out and keep them from falling off.

But here’s the best part, they stay on a little hiker’s feet even when you’re pulling them in and out of a baby carrier. If that’s not a win after fighting rubber boots all autumn then I don’t know what is.

4. Kelty Trailridge 6

Black Friday

If you’re a parent you know the feeling–when suddenly you realize that your growing family will not fit inside the small 2 man backpacking tent you’ve had since college. That was us two years ago.

Enter into our lives the Kelty Trailridge 6, the mother of all family car camping tents.

I think it’s important to have a quality tent and spend a little extra money on a tent (a Walmart tent simply won’t cut it in harsh weather conditions). I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical when we were tent shopping. I wasn’t sure about a Kelty, especially since the price (on sale at Sierra Trading Post) wasn’t all that much more than what we’d spend at a big box store.

But, this tent has won our love. All it took was one high altitude thunderstorm with rain and wind were coming at us from every direction to realize that this tent is now part of our family. Anytime we’ve been camping in the rain we stay dry, including our gear which we store into the huge vestibules where it can wait out any storm.

Amazon has tents too! Check it out: Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Basecamp 6 Person Tent

5. Deuter Little Star Sleeping Bag

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William has put the Deuter Little Star through two summer’s worth of abuse. While the bag is only rated to 40-degrees this sleeping bag is awesome for warm nights. What we love about this bag is that it grows with the child. With a simple zip or unzip you can make the sleeping bag small enough to fit a 1 year old or large enough to easily fit a 3 year old (and probably even a 4 year old). Kids gear that will last several seasons for the same kid always wins.

I’ll confess that this bag gets just as much use during naptime at home as it does in a tent, cabin or yurt.

Get your sleeping bag here: Deuter Little Star EXP Sleeping Bag Sun / Mandarine Left Zip

7. GSI Commuter Java Press

java press

Let’s say that you’re camping and you don’t get an awesome nights sleep. Here’s a piece of gear that is vital for any sleep deprived coffee or tea loving parent. The price is a bonus, you get a full french press with built-in mug for less money than most travel mugs! Check out a full review over at Seattle Backpackers Magazine.  You can purchase one here:GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press Mug, Blue Mountain

8. Steri pen

We don’t leave home without the Steri-pen. We’ll do a full review later but it’s a great way to purify water using ultraviolet rays. The only con is that it requires a battery, so make sure you pack a fresh one. More details here: SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier

9. North Face Sprout

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Our little William has been using the North Face Sprout almost daily since May 31, 2013. I only know this because I was pregnant, a week overdue and having some serious contractions at REI when this clever little pack caught our eye. Finn was born just a few hours later.

This pack has logged more hours on the trails the past 18 months than most adults do in a lifetime and it’s gone through some serious abuse. Not only is it adorable, but the perfect size for a toddler or preschooler.  I’m afraid that next summer we’ll have to hand this down to Finn and upgrade William to a larger daypack (recommendations anyone?) Grab a sprout for your little sprout here: The North Face Sprout Backpack Youth (Shocking Pink Ditsy Stripe Print)

10. Whistle

whistle

This should actually be first on our list, not last but so I digress.

If you don’t hike with a whistle you should and here’s why, it can save your life. I carry a small whistle in my Ribz front pack. William wears one around his neck at all times when we’re on the trails. It’s just the safe thing to do.

Any whistle will work, my recommendation is to start kids wearing whistles as soon as they won’t be a choking hazard and to teach your kid how to blow a whistle if they become lost. Pick up a whistle here or anywhere really. Coghlan’s Six Function Whistle

What pieces of gear do YOU consider essential?

Thru 11-30-14 take 30% off some Sierra Trading Post purchases by shopping through this link: http://stp.me/Trails

ps We are Amazon affiliates, if you shop through the Amazon links we posted we get a few pennies from every purchase. But as a small business we’ll love you even more if you buy local instead of through Amazon 🙂

30% off Sierra Trading Post Coupon for Just Trails Fans

One of the perks of being a contributor over at the Sierra Social Hub and a part of the #teamsierra is being able to offer a few good deals to our readers.

Today we’re hooking you up with a 30% off coupon for all of your Sierra Trading Post needs good thru 11-30-14. Simply click this link http://stp.me/Trails to redeem your coupon, and if you’re local you can save some money on shipping by picking up your items in-store.

Here are a few of our recent Sierra Trading Post purchases, so you can see what they’ve got going on.

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1. CamelBak M.U.L.E. I’m not a huge hydration pack fan but Al loves this thing, he literally wore one out after 10 years of use. So a few weeks ago fall he picked up a new one at the Sierra Trading Post Fort Collins store’s grand opening. He thinks it is just right size for 6-15 miles on the trail and it’s only $66.15 with the coupon. Win!

2. Kids Fleece Tops

Kids and adults can never have too many fleece tops. We love fleece mid-layers with zip up necks for our kiddos. You can buy fleece tops at Walmart but get a better quality of fleece for a lower price at Sierra Trading Post.

3. SmartWool Socks

I’m a fan of Ausangate socks but Al loves SmartWool socks. It’s all he will wear. We also love their kids socks and when you can grab a pair of SmartWool hiking or ski socks for under 10 bucks into another total win.

If you’re looking to get a head start on your holiday shopping or just need a few things to get ready for winter hiking, snowshoeing and skiing be sure to use this coupon, feel free to pass it along to friends and family! http://stp.me/Trails.

 

Gear Revew: Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove

Here in Wyoming wind is my nemesis.

Especially when it comes to camping and cooking.

When I heard about the Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove I jumped at the chance to test it, it looked like it would perform well in windy conditions.

Here’s the stove. It’s super easy to set up.

Vargo 1

It packs flat and it’s light too, the titanium version weighs 4.1 ounces. To set it up you  simply pull it out of the bag, snap the hinged panels together, and just like that you’re ready to go. It’s best to prepare the ground underneath it by placing the stove ion a flat surface and digging a few small trenches under the walls with a stick to allow for proper air flow.

To use the stove place tinder in the center of it, light it up, feed the fire twigs and larger sticks as the fire grows.

Vargo 2

It’s easy to adjust the fire by opening and closing the door and once the wood has burned down into coals you can set a pot on top of the stove and get busy boiling water or heating up dinner.

Here are a few of our thoughts after testing this stove.

1. This is a good way to have a small fire with a relatively small impact on the environment since you’re just using small twigs. We also liked that the whole system is contained and clean up is easy, just douse it with water, pack the stove up and spread the ashes.

2. But on the other hand, if you don’t have access to wood you can’t use this stove for it’s intended purpose. But it does make a great windscreen for another stove, like our favorite, the cat food stove. This stove did a great job of blocking wind, we had no problems getting it lit or keeping it lit.

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3. This stove is small and lightweight, it’s the size of a crunchwrap supreme from Taco Bell (I know, how’s that for clever?) But, it’s not as thick as a crunchwrap. However, it’s small size is also a disadvantage if you’re out exploring with a group. I’d love to see a larger family-sized version.

4. There is a learning curve to figure out how to use this stove and get the fire just right. We used more wood than I thought we would and had the most luck keeping the door open, so be sure to test it out in the backyard before taking it into the backcountry. This is also a product that you’ll need to keep an eye on and constantly feed wood. You can’t just light it and forget it, so if you’re in a rush or don’t enjoy building a fire this probably isn’t the product for you. It will be slower and more tedious than using something like our beloved Jetboil.

We tested this stove on windy days but didn’t get a chance to test it on a rainy or snowy day. So, stay tuned as we update this review this winter after we try it in some more extreme conditions.

Overall, this is a product that will have a permanent home in our gear closet and space in our backpacks.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove for free from Vargo as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication

 

 

 

 

 

A Behind Friendly Bicycle Saddle

Sure we write a lot about hiking here but we can’t deny the fact that Laramie is also a mountain biking mecca. Between Curt Gowdy State Park and our trails up at Tie City there’s a little bit of something for everyone. From a novice mountain biker to hardcore fat-bikers (as in tires, not body type) and even those awesome cyclists we see riding over the Snowy Range scenic byway.

 We leave our mountain bike audience out a lot but not today.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Angie, a fellow Mom and small business owner whose husband has just developed a revolutionary bicycle saddle. I was so inspired by their story and their product that I had to interview Angie and let her talk about it. I’ll let Angie take it away.

Question 1: Why did you come up with a new design for a saddle? What is the inspiration behind this product? What’s your background as a cyclist?

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I’ve ridden bikes since I was a child, love to ride but mostly get on my mountain bike these days due to kids.

The saddle is my husband’s design and the patient is pending.  He came up with it because most saddles have a very traditional design that has a flat surface.  Even with what they call ‘hammock’ saddles (those shaped with the very rear portion up Fizik Antares) they have a flat mid section and are hard on your perineum and genitals.  The inspiration is making one that fits with the true anatomy and one that’s not so hard on that most sensitive of areas! If you really think about those areas, it makes perfect sense that you would marry them with a very soft surface like air.

Also regarding inspiration.  I wanted to go back and join the workforce now that our kids are a bit older.  But I always knew about this great idea we had, we also had friends asking about the saddle and why we didn’t put it out on our own.  Time and money were always the main factors.  Kickstarter was the perfect fit for something I could do to show this great idea, knowing people will benefit.  We sincerely see this as a saddle that will help so many in the cycling community struggling with finding the right saddle.  We were at the Hotter than Hell Hundred last weekend and the folks who came by the booth sat on the saddle and loved it, I got so much positive feedback, it makes us feel great about what we’re doing.  I just need to spread the word and feel that if it doesn’t work, it will be because I didn’t share information with enough people – which is a bummer!

Question 2: What’s wrong with the fit of bicycle saddles currently on the market? How is your saddle different?

As mentioned, saddles today are tough on your sensitive parts. They are not shaped right.

That hard saddle shouldn’t press against one of the most sensitive areas on the body.

Even ones that have a cut out don’t really work as the pad in the bike shorts doesn’t let anything hang into that crack, they simply bunch everything up to a flat hard surface.

There are new saddles that completely drop that middle section out.  We see them akin to laying your arm over a table edge, eventually blood pools at the point it hangs off causing other issues.  But they must work for some.  Which is great!  More power to them, because they’re helping someone.  I think every saddle is chasing the same issue, perineal and genital comfort with performance in mind so I think there’s a place at the table for all!!

Our saddle is different by a mile.  It starts with dropping off 3/4″ in the mid section so it starts off fitting your anatomy better right off the bat.  But theres support as we put a medical grade air bladder that runs from the middle of the saddle to the front of the saddle.  We call it the “Active Surface”, because it becomes slightly ‘unstable’ when you pedal.  So your parts (from your perineum to the genitals) rest on a layer of air.  That instability acts against “Hot Spots”, which develop when you ride in the same place on a saddle.  The air bladder is fully adjustable, so you can pump as much or as little in the bladder as needed!  That’s another thing, cyclist are always tinkering with their bikes to find just the right fit, this will

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Question 3: I noticed that the Reprieve Saddle is inflatable. How does that work?

It’s simple.  We supply each saddle with two small little hand held pumps, which can fit into your seat bag (if needed).  You simply pump a couple times and it fills the bladder with air.  We ride it with two pumps of air which allows movement in the air bladder.  Thats another cool thing when you ride our saddle the air in the “Active Surface” (the air bladder area) moves a bit so you don’t develop “hot spots” in that area because your body sits on an “Unstable Surface of Air”.  Its made of a heavy duty, urethane material used in medical grade devices.  The unit is RF Welded together so it’s very, very tough.  Many have pumped it way up, with no problems.  It also holds air for a very long time, we tested it about 3 months with the same amount of air.  That’s about how long it went before someone deflated and repumped…

Question 4: I know that you’re gearing up for a kickstarter campaign and hopefully production will start soon. When do you think the saddle be on the market? Are you placing any pre-orders now if someone really, really wants to get their hands on one?

We would love to!  And we’ve had plenty of people offer us a ton for our two prototypes, but unfortunately they’ll have to wait till the 16th, as we need every dollar to go the $25K needed to start production.  If we don’t raise the money, they don’t have to pay a thing and the saddles aren’t made…which would be a very big bummer!!

Question 5: We have a huge mountain biking community here in Southeastern Wyoming. Is this saddle just for road biking or can mountain bikers benefit from it too?

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First off that sounds beautiful, I’ve never been but it sounds great!  (Come visit any time Angie 🙂 Next, we’ve tested this on plenty of mountain bikers, my hubby does that too out at Erwin Park here in McKinney.

Anyone having issues with comfort other than the sit bones (as that needs a firm place for power/performance) will like this saddle.  With all the bumps and stuff I could see this really taking off in the mountain bike community.

Question 6: Is there anything else you’d like to add about the saddle or your company?

Yes we’ve got a very good plan to make the saddles once we get funding.  I’ve met with three different overseas saddle manufacturers which are ready to go.  We also plan to inform everyone of our progress through the site, emails and twitter.

The next big point is “bicycle fitting” at a local shop or by someone qualified.  Our saddle makes it extremely easy to fit someone as there is an exact place to sit – as your perineum falls just off the edge of the mid section of the saddle.  So you’ll always know where your optimum position is on the saddle, very important for pedaling performance etc.

Also everyone donating a certain amount to our kickstarter will get a really cool soft fabric t-shirt.

Question 7: Where’s your favorite place to ride and why? 

We mostly ride these days with the kids.  My hubby is part of a bike club Plano Bicycle Association, so he does rides each Saturday morning around Dallas.  But he has a really good job with a company he loves, which tends to take a lot of his time.  He also does mountain biking, unfortunately time is our main issue these days.

Question 8: Where can we find you online?

You can see all of the information about the saddle at our site www.3westdesign.com, @ReprieveSaddle (Twitter), and 3 West Design, Reprieve Saddle (Facebook).

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Thanks for the interview Angie, we can’t wait to get our rear ends on one of these saddles!

Now, we’ve been nominated to do the ice bucket challenge by many people but instead of dumping water over our heads we’re going to give to the 3 West Design kickstarter project when it opens next month. I think they are on to something and I think that this just might be the saddle my bum has been waiting for. 

 

Gear Review Updates

After going on a hike every day for the past 22 days I feel like I’m becoming one with my gear so in keeping with our gear review policy I thought it was time to update a few gear reviews.

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Here’s what you need to know.

  • One of these company’s warranty departments is really ticking me off.
  • I’m absolutely in love with one of these products.
  • I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use one of these products.

Be sure to check out the updated reviews and have an awesome day!

Product Review: Mosquitno Bandzzz & Spotzzz

A few weeks ago I jumped at the opportunity to test out an all-natural, safe, non-toxic, DEET free mosquito repellent from Mosquitno.

I’m not going to lie, I hate mosquito bites. I’m a fan of DEET. But, if I can find an alternative natural insect repellent that works just as well and won’t make me glow in the dark when I’m old I’m willing to give it a shot.

Our 100 days of hiking challenge provided a great opportunity to test out the Mosquitno spotzzz and bandzzz.

We wore them on a trek to Swastika Lake & Corner Mountain in the Snowy Range, on a hike around Pine Bluffs, at Vedauwoo and on Pole Mountain. We tried them early in the morning, late in the afternoon, around lakes and streams and dry areas on hot days and in the wind. We also had help testing the spotzzz from a few good hiker friends during group hikes.

Here’s more about the products.

Mosquitno Bandzzz

Mosquitno Bandzzz are a rubber bracelet infused with citronella. It’s the best smelling rubber bracelet you’ll ever wear. They are supposed to provide 6 days worth of protection against mosquitos.

Mosquitno Bandzzz.jpg

Our kid loved the funky tie-die pattern of the bracelet and was psyched to get to wear it. I slapped one on our one-year-old’s leg, I figured he couldn’t chew it off that way, and technically they aren’t supposed to be worn by kids under 3.

They also come in a resealable bag, making it easy to store them between hikes so they can retain their mosquito fighting powers.

Mosquitno Spotzz

Mosquitno Spotzzz.jpg

Mosquitno Spotzz are essentially a heavy duty citronella infused sticker that you just stick onto your clothing or gear. They come in a multitude of colors and designs, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Here’s what we found:

  • The spotzzz don’t stick well to nylon gear, webbing or synthetic clothing. They fell off of our backpacks, ribz, hats, and shirts. They did stick well to cotton, but that’s not our material of choice when we’re hiking.
  • The spotzzz and bandzzz aren’t a magic product for keeping away mosquitos. We went DEET free for 5 days and we have a lot of mosquito bites to show for it. But, looking at their website I get the feeling that these products were designed more for backyard use.
  • The bandzzz are hot and uncomfortable. I know this may sound ridiculous but I don’t like wrist sweat.

But here’s what I do like:

  • I do like the fact that Mosquitno is innovative by researching and providing alternatives to products like DEET.
  • I like the thought of a simple sticker or wrist band providing several days worth of protection against mosquitos. That’s better than reapplying DEET every time we go hiking and I feel like you get your money’s worth that way too.
  • We also like that the spotzzz and bandzzz are lightweight and packable. A great alternative to packing around a bottle of bug spray.
  • It’s nice to wear a mosquito repellent that smells good!

But, for us this product just didn’t work, even though I really, really wanted it to.

mpsquito.jpgWe need a product that will last while we’re trudging through the woods both on and off trail. Maybe this product would work better in town when we’re at a local park with our kids, or someplace with fewer bugs. We might purchase a few more for test during times when we don’t need to bring out the big guns (DEET).

But, several other trusted outdoor bloggers have tested this product and most liked it, so please read some of their reviews too.

Have you tried any DEET free mosquito repellents? Any good brands to recommend?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Mosquitno Spotzzz and Bandzzz for free from Mosquitno as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication. All opinions are my own.

Gear Review: Purinize Water Purification Solution

If you’re a fan of using iodine to treat water when camping or backpacking here’s another alternative: Purinize Water Purification Solution.

You can us it alone to treat water but it won’t get rid of particles an debris. It’s recommended to use with a filter, especially in places with contaminates that a filter won’t take care of.

I’ll let the video do the talking:

As we discussed yesterday with the Sawyer Mini Water Filter review, I’m not a scientist with the ability to measure things like the percent of bacteria in water. I used this product on both filtered and unfiltered water and I didn’t get sick, so that’s what matters to me.

Now, we haven’t done a lot of camping or backpacking yet this summer so this is more of an informational post with what I’ve observed so far. We’ll update it again in October after a full summer of use.

Would I recommend this product?

So far, yes.

For more information about this product visit the Purinize website.

I think it’s important to see what other bloggers who received the same samples to test are saying. That way you don’t just have my opinion to go off of if you’re interested in this product. Here are links to a few different reviews.

  • Athletic Human: “a clear winner in my mind…”
  • SurvivorGeek: “I don’t know that I can whole-heartedly recommend the use of this product by itself, simply because I don’t have the ability to test for microorganisms, and I can’t find evidence that Purinize does an effective job of making water safe enough to drink.”
  • Tripleblaze: “I trust Purinize. But with the Sawyer Mini Filter.”
  • Death Valley Jim: “For now, I have to recommend the use of a water filtration system, or at the very least iodine water treatment tablets. The use of Purinize Water Purifier Solution, feels just to risky to me.” 

What’s your favorite water treatment? 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Purinize Water Purifier Solution for free from Purinize as coordinated by Deep Creek PR, an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company, in consideration for review publication.

You can read the Just Trails gear review policy here.