All Posts By Jill

Dakine Recon Wet/Dry Duffle 80L Bag


Duffles are versatile travel pals. Cram a little or a lot of gear in there, and everything is safely packed for you to get from Point A to Point B, with as many stops along the way as you like.

The best duffles, though, allow you to separate some items from the others, all while keeping them in the same bag. The Dakine Recon Wet/Dry Duffle 80L bag is one of those.

Whether your adventure involves kayaking, stand-up paddling (SUP), swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing, boating, hiking, canyoneering, or anything involving mud—the Recon lets you keep your clean items away from your wet/dry/dirty ones. The main compartment is accessible through a U-shaped opening, making it easy to get a quick glimpse of what’s where before you have to dig through everything. The bottom zippered compartment is where you stash the wet gear until you have time to wash and/or dry it.

There’s also an internal mesh pocket, so you can keep smaller items from floating around in that big main compartment. In front, a zippered side organizer pocket lets you stash other essential small items that you need to access quickly. Part of that organizer pocket is a wax pocket, but if you’re not a surfer, nobody will blame you if you stash something else there instead.

Made of 600D polyester and 1260D ballistic nylon, the bag is sturdy enough to survive standard luggage incidents without exposing your gear. It measures 23” x 16” x 14,” so is slightly over carry-on size, but can make it through scrutiny if you don’t fill it all the way and cinch it tight.

Removable padded backpack straps come with the bag, so you’re not limited to hand-carrying it or hauling it on one shoulder. I’ve brought this bag along on boating excursions, surfing adventures, and even a trip to my kid’s swimming beach—and it’s held up just fine.

The Dakine Recon Wet/Dry Duffle 80L Bag comes in black and “haze” (striped black, blue and green) and lists for $125 on the Dakine site. It’s also available at Amazon.

No tags 0 Comments 0

CamelBak Palos 4 LR Pack


When you’re headed for blissful singletrack and mountain trails on your bike, do you resent having to carry a backpack? Sure, there are great MTB packs for those who need more than a water bottle when they hit the trails, but sometimes cyclists just want to have the monkey off their back, so to speak.

The CamelBak Palos 4LR pack gets those straps off your back. A reservoir-based waist pack, the Palos allows riders to carry necessary items (and water) along on their journey, but without tangling with a full backpack.

Part of the Low Rider MTB collection from CamelBak, the Palos is designed to carry the water weight and cargo weight on the hips, lowering the rider’s center of gravity and increasing stability. The waist pack design allows you to bring along enough gear for a half-day ride, while allowing your upper body to move and stay cool on hot days.

The pack carries a minimal 2.5 liters of cargo and a 1.5-liter lumbar water reservoir, accessible through the main pocket. Inside the water reservoir pocket, compression webbing help keep the water weight secure throughout the ride, as the volume decreases with your every sip.

Other elements of the pack include large, easy-access waistbelt pockets; a magnetic tube trap for your drinking tube; and an integrated tool roll. I’ve been using my Palos pack on California MTB trails, from the Coast Ranges to the Sierra Nevada.

CamelBak’s Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee covers the Palos, as well as all reservoirs, backpacks, bottles and accessories from manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. The company will repair or replace at its discretion any manufacturing defect in these products at no cost. The Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee does not cover damage caused by normal wear and tear, accident (lost/stolen), combat damage, improper care or cleaning, non-standard usage, or negligence.

The CamelBak Palos 4 LR pack comes in ember/charcoal or black/atomic blue, and lists for $75 at REI.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Patagonia Women’s R1 Long Jane


Farmer-John (aka Long-John) wetsuits are especially familiar to kayakers and others who want free arm movement along with warmth when on and in the water. But they’re often made exactly the same for Janes and Jills, despite our body types being very different.

The Patagonia Women’s R1 Long Jane is just for the water-loving ladies. Made from a combination of 1.5 millimeter neoprene, a recycled polyester jersey lining, and partially recycled stretch face fabric, the wetsuit allows women to be comfortable in waters between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The lightweight warmth matched with performance details helps keep core and legs warm while in the water.

The high-quality neoprene used meets Patagonia standards for strength, durability and support, while the high-stretch 100-percent recycled polyester jersey lining improves flexibility and dry time.
More than 20 years ago, Patagonia adopted fleece made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles. Today, the brand is able to utilize more sources for recycled polyester and offer it on more garments, like this wetsuit. Patagonia now recycles used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste, and worn out garments into polyester fibers to produce many of its clothes. Using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a raw material source, curbs discards and reduces toxic emissions from incinerators.
The long-leg design of the Long Jane provides sun protection for daytime surfing, and the anatomical design holds close to the body for optimal flex—far better than a unisex version. Spandex binding at the neck and armholes is cleanly finished, and seams are sewn with flatlock construction to avoid chafing and increase durability.

I’ve used this wetsuit for kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddling (SUP), boogie boarding, and body surfing, and it’s my go-to in warmer waters. Considering that I often do all those activities in Northern California’s coastal region, I sometimes have to ditch the Long Jane for a greater measure of neoprene, but I come back when I can.

The Patagonia Women’s R1 Long Jane comes in black or “howling turquoise” (which is black with turquoise accents) and lists for $149 on the Patagonia site. It’s also available at Backcountry.

No tags 0 Comments 0

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Watch


It seems as if everyone has a fitness tracker—whether you’re using your phone, watch, or other body accessories. The challenge comes in deciding what you need in a fitness tracker, and perhaps one can help you avoid carrying a lot of extra stuff around.

The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music watch combines: activity tracking, where you can capture steps, heart rate, active minutes and calories burned; GPS tracking to track your time, pace and distance; sleep tracking; goal setting; audio performance feedback; and a multisport mode, so you can train in run, bike, swim, gym and treadmill modes. On top of that, it allows you to store more than 500 songs (depending on size of files), so you don’t have to bring your phone along, too.

In addition to all that, the watch has a large monochrome display, a lightweight design, and good battery life. If you’re looking to seamlessly incorporate music into your workout, it’s worth a try, so you can ditch the added weight of your phone, as well as the headphones that seems to get tangled every few minutes.

Real-time information allows you to see what’s happening while you’re working out, hiking, biking, or running. Not later, or when you have to sync your watch to some app.

You can store up to 3GB of music (which, as I mentioned above, can number in the 500ish song arena, depending on the file size), allowing you to transfer playlists from iTunes and Windows Media Player and listen to your favorite music from your wrist.

At first, the action of adding music was cumbersome for me, but once I got the hang of it, it became easier. Additionally, I had some problems getting the GPS to lock in immediately, but I’m having fewer issues as time goes on using the watch.

The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music watch comes in black, Shocking Blue, and Sky Captain/Scuba Blue and lists for $199 on the TomTom site. It’s also available at Amazon.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Klymit Splash 25 Backpack


Last week, I talked about dry bags and Amy talked about sleeping pads. Two seemingly very different things, but perhaps it’s possible to create something that uses the two technologies. That’s one of the benefits of the Klymit Splash 25 Backpack.

Dry bags aren’t only useful when you’re on or near the water, and if you’re covering water and land excursions in the same trip, it’s impractical to bring two backpacks. Klymit designed the Splash 25 Backpack with an inflatable and adjustable airframe suspension provides padding and flexibility so you can carry it comfortably when you’re ditching the kayak for a day hike or hitting the trail under stormy skies.

The frame is a series of chambers integrated into the pack’s design, which become rigid when inflated, creating something close to the traditional frame that most backpackers are accustomed to. An integrated hand pump allows you to adjust pressure to fine-tune comfort, whether you’re on the trail or in camp.

The 210D waterproof, polyurethane-coated nylon fabric is reinforced at the sides and bottom, has welded seams for increased durability and waterproofing, and a roll-top closure that seals out water and allows easy adjustments to be made for loads as you add items to your pack. The main compartment is the only one in the pack, allowing for your gear to stay safe from getting wet.

The pack also has a removable hip belt for extra support when you’re carrying more weight, and a daisy chain that lets you clip extra gear to the outside of the pack when you’re heading out for longer adventures.

I’ve used this pack for a variety of excursions, and the bulletproof construction has ensured that after at least 10 solid outdoor uses, it looks pretty much the same now as it did when I pulled it out of the bag it came in.

Despite having a 25-liter capacity, the Splash 25 Backpack weighs just 21 ounces, so most of the weight you’re carrying is what you choose to put in the pack.

The Klymit Splash 25 Pack comes in light gray and lists for $99.95 on the Klymit site. It’s also available at Backcountry.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Chums Downstream Rolltop Bag


Dry bags are useful around water, especially if you want to keep water away from the contents of the bag. But minimalist construction dry bags are also not the easiest to carry around, since there’s usually only one handle, which requires that you grip it the entire time.

The Chums Downstream Rolltop Bag is a much smaller waterproof bag that you can carry with you with ease—whether it’s around your waist or over your shoulder. If your trip involves kayaking, stand-up paddling, boating, fishing, hiking through streams, hanging at the beach, or nearly anything else water based, this is an ideal bag to bring along for stashing your gear, just as long as you’re not bringing anything too large.

The Downstream Bag measures 6 inches x 10 inches x 4.5 inches, so as I mentioned, an extra pair of shoes or your lunch won’t really fit inside. But you can easily stash your phone, money, cards, keys, sunscreen and snacks inside.

The bag’s main pocket is waterproof (with double-sided TPU-coated nylon and RF welded seams) and has a rolltop closure that keeps your gear securely inside and water safely outside. There’s also an exterior zippered front pocket that is water resistant and has a drain hole for quick drying.

Fasten the bag around your waist or use it as a cross-body bag—both ways allow hand’s free carrying, so you can bring your essentials with you and yet still be able to use your hands, paddling, fishing, playing beach games, etc.

I’ve used this bag on a handful of adventures, and it makes bringing small items along very easy. I’ve noticed that a bunch of folks who rent kayaks and SUPs from my shop at home tend to bring Ziploc baggies for stashing their phone and essential gear, and while those bags can be splashproof, they are not waterproof. Sad clients returning with waterlogged devices are all I need to see to make me want to have an inexpensive, waterproof bag along on my journeys around water.

The Chums Downstream Rolltop Bag comes in one color (gray) and lists for $44.99 on the Chums site. It’s also available at Amazon and Backcountry.

No tags 0 Comments 0

ExOfficio Women’s Rain Logic Jacket


The best way to deal with rainy weather while on your vacation is to be prepared for it. Even if you’d prefer that it not rain, having a great waterproof jacket packed away in your suitcase will ensure that if Mother Nature goes against your wishes, you’ll be just fine.

The ExOfficio Women’s Rain Logic Jacket is exactly that kind of jacket.

The shell is constructed from 2.5 layers, consisting of a low-weight face fabric to block water, a polyurethane laminate to block wind, and a protective inner layer (here’s that half layer) that provides abrasion resistance. The jacket weighs 13.5 ounces and folds up fairly small, so it won’t take up too much room in your bag. You can even just roll it right into the hood.

You often hear that a certain jacket is “waterproof,” but quickly realize that it’s not, because perhaps it’s only been treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) yet still has regular (non-waterproof) zippers and it’s not seam sealed. The Rain Logic Jacket is fully seam sealed, has a waterproof front zipper and two front-welded pockets with waterproof zippers, and is treated with DWR for additional water resistance.

The jacket’s fabric is breathable, so you’re not zipped into a sweaty hothouse. But if you tend to run hotter than the average person, there are two-way pit zips for ventilation.

Inside the jacket is a four-pocket travel system. Each pocket is sized for different items and labeled: Connect (electronics), Getaway (passport/ID), Secure (keys), and Protect (sunglasses/glasses). All but the Protect pocket have zippers. This way, you can use the interior pockets for your stuff and still have the two outer pockets for more stuff, or your hands if it’s not raining.

When it’s time to wash the Storm Logic Jacket, machine wash it in cold and tumble dry low. If you’re an ironing freak, go ahead, but use the low or delicate setting.

The ExOfficio Women’s Rain Logic Jacket comes in black and marina (blue) and lists for $107.99 on the ExOfficio site. It’s also available at Amazon.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Pendleton National Park Series: Acadia Tote Bag and Motor Robe


This year doesn’t only mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, 2016 is also the 100th anniversary of Pendleton Woolen Mills’ Glacier Park blanket. To celebrate, Pendleton has issued a National Parks collection saluting the beauty of 10 parks.

I’ve been traveling with two items from the collection lately: the Acadia Tote Bag and the Motor Robe with Carrier. While both are great for travel, the Motor Robe is optimal on a road trip.

The Acadia Tote Bag is named for Acadia National Park, and while many items in the National Parks collection have a number of colors, this tote is only available in the Acadia plaid, which has a black background. The waxed cotton base of the bag is accented on top with the wool plaid pattern, which is woven in Pendleton’s American mills. The tote handles are leather, and there’s a removable shoulder strap (made of webbing) included. There’s also a snap closure and pockets both inside and out. Bring it on the plane as your carry-on, toss it in the car as a picnic bag or all-around tote—either way, you win.

The Motor Robe with Carrier is your warm pal on cold nights while car camping, or even on a long road trip to your favorite national park. Made from the same pure virgin wool as the Acadia Tote, and in the same woolen mills, the blanket comes with a leather carrier that has a handle and shoulder strap—made for easy carrying.

Want to add to your collection? Check out the Pendleton National Parks collection, which includes towels, pillows, clothing, blankets, bags, drinkware, luggage and accessories.

The Acadia Tote Bag lists for $199 on the Pendleton site, and the Motor Robe with Carrier lists for $99.50, and comes in the Acadia black plaid, so you can make them match, or you can select other plaids: Badlands Olive, Grand Canyon Navy, or Smoky Mountain Brown.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Native Eyewear Kannah Sunglasses


Sunglasses seem to be everywhere, but unless you lose them all the time and want to keep buying the dime-store specials, it’s better to look at quality eyewear that will protect you on your many outdoor adventures. And no, that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

The Native Eyewear Kannah sunglasses fit small to medium faces, and so are ideal for woman looking for stylish shades with great performance for hiking, biking, and sports of the water variety—whether it’s in liquid form or frozen. I’ve worn mine from SUP to ski to hiking and biking and have been happy with them.

These sunglasses have N3 lens technology, which blocks up to 4 times more infrared light than regular polarized lenses. The lenses also provide UV protection up to 400 nanometers (nm) and by significantly reducing blue light and selectively filtering UV, they deliver high contrast, crisp definition, and peak visual acuity. It’s especially notable when you’re on the water or snow. Having non-polarized lenses in those circumstances not only doesn’t protect your eyes from infrared light and UV, but also the effects of that lack of protection make your eyes tired much sooner.

The co-injected Rhyno-Tuff Air Frames are tough enough to get you through the occasional drops, bag smashes and other small accidents we have with sunglasses. They’re made from high-performance thermoplastic material that’s extremely lightweight, yet durable enough to withstand high-velocity collisions and temperature extremes. Cushinol temple boots create a nonslip grip that keep your sunglasses in place during athletic activity. And the frames’ mastoid temple grip ensures that the temple ends hug the mastoid bone (behind your ears), allowing for a secure and very comfortable fit.

All Native Eyewear is backed by a lifetime warranty. It doesn’t matter whether you come across an unforeseen obstacle, miscalculate a turn on a trail, or even if your pup decides to use your sunglasses as a chew toy. Whatever the reason, the company will send a replacement pair for just $30, no questions asked. Manufacturer defects are covered for one year at no charge.

The Kannah sunglasses’ style colors range from asphalt to crimson, desert tortoise to stout fade. Lenses are either gray, brown, bronze reflex, or green reflex. Two style of Native Eyewear Itso sunglasses lists for $109 on the Native Eyewear site, and the styles with reflex lenses list for $129. They’re also available at Backcountry.

No tags 0 Comments 0

Columbia OutDry Ex Platinum Tech Shell Jacket


Columbia OutDry Ex Platinum Tech Shell Jacket

Sure, it may be spring, but remember what they say about April showers. Just because the weather’s warming up in many places doesn’t mean you’re escaping the rain. When you’re spring cleaning, ditch all the supposed “waterproof” jackets you’ve bought over the years that have disappointed you—whether they let water in, or just trapped all your sweat inside like a greenhouse.

Now, replace them with the Columbia OutDry Ex Platinum Tech Shell Jacket.

Instead of having an interior waterproof membrane that doesn’t breathe and an exterior water-repellent coating that degrades over time, this jacket’s waterproof 100-percent nylon fabric is on the outside and wicking fabric is on the inside. The result is a jacket that breathes (letting interior moisture out) and keeps the exterior moisture outside.

So wait, how does that exterior waterproof fabric let moisture out and keep it out? It’s a watertight membrane that has microscopic perforations that lets water vapor escape through that interior wicking membrane directly fused to the shell. The jacket is fully seam sealed and has external seam tape, so there’s no water getting in—just vapor getting out.

Small details with the jacket make it easy to be the one you want to pick up and use, whether at home or on the road. Two-way underarm venting adds to the great breathability and allows you to use the jacket for many active pursuits. Ditto the helmet-compatible hood, so you can use it whether you’re climbing, biking, or kayaking. Articulated elbows, adjustable contoured sleeve cuffs and a drop tail are all practical and useful additions (but not always thought about in other jackets).

The Columbia OutDry Ex Platinum Tech Shell Jacket is available in both men’s and women’s styles, and lists for $250 on the Columbia site. Men’s jacket colors are black, stinger (yellow) and hyper blue. Women’s jacket colors are black, white and haute pink. The jacket is also available at REI.