Posts Tagged cheap and light
My family seems to go through water bottles like a professional tennis player goes through rackets, many getting lost or beat up in our travels. It’s the one thing all three of us pack no matter what and in hot climates, it’s either one of these or your own personal mountain of plastic garbage.
So I’ve tried out quite a few over the years, regularly reviewing water bottles on this gear blog. Not a real exciting item to purchase maybe, but never all that expensive either. Here are three new ones that came my way during the most recent Outdoor Retailer Show, where companies are showing off their stuff. For the past couple months they’ve gotten some real world use.
This Avex Brazos Autoseal bottle is a real bargain at $15. It’s got an innovative design that takes one-hand drinking to a new level. It’s kind of hard to see on any pics, but there’s a trigger on one side and a drinking valve on the other. You press down on the trigger when you want to drink and the water flows freely. Take your finger off the trigger and the flow stops dead, no leaking.
It’s not all that big for something holding 25 ounces and it feels good in the hand. There’s a little hook handle on the top too for carrying or clipping. There’s a part that flips down to cover up where you drink so you can keep dirt out when it’s in your daypack or on a bike holder. The Avex Brazos Autoseal comes in multiple colors, is BPA-free, and you can toss it in the dishwasher. Get it at Sun & Ski retail stores or at Amazon.
The lady of the house is a personal trainer, so she chugs a few gallons a day on the road or not. She’s digging this Hero Sport water bottle from Bubba Brands that holds 24 ounces. With a name like Bubba, yes it’s more plump, but that’s because it’s insulated and will keep your cold water cold for hours without the outside sweating. It’s only a few bucks more than your average plastic one though, retailing for $17.
Like the Avex one above there’s a flip-down valve, though the one on this is a bit more crude. It doesn’t nest inside anything and it’s tougher to operate with one hand. Still it works well in basic use and again it’s a bite valve that doesn’t require a lot of effort. The flip-up handle doubles as something you can carry it with or clip onto something. This water bottle is dishwasher safe.
The double-wall insulated versions of the Hero Sport are all stainless steel color, but the top comes in different colors. It also comes in different sizes, but get this 24-ounce version at Wal-Mart stores or Amazon.
The last one I’ve been traveling with is meant more specifically for travelers or people going camping. Sometimes you need a water bottle and sometimes you don’t, but normally it’s taking up the same amount of space regardless. One way around that is a Vapur collapsible bag/bottle, but for something sturdier check out this Pack-up Bottle from Light My Fire.
The idea is simple: when you’re using it you’ve got a nice bottle that fits in your daypack and has a wide mouth for use with a SteriPen or other purifier. When you’re going through security though or packing up to go home, it compresses down to this size:
Technically this holds 700 ml (about 24 ounces), but in my tests it missed that capacity by a few ounces—a pitfall for something that keeps changing shape I guess. Speaking of such, how does this thing stand up?
The bottom part is silicone, yes, but when it’s popped out all the way it has a rounded triangular shape on the bottom. It’s a little top-heavy, so it pays to keep the lid screwed on when not drinking, but unlike a Vapur bottle this one still stands up easily when it’s only partially full. It comes in multiple colors and even though it’s made and designed in Sweden, the Pack-up Bottle lists for $20. Get it at Amazon. They also make a pack-up cup for campers that you can get at REI.
I’ve been known to carry a flask along now and then, so I was glad to give this new one from Stanley a whirl after I saw it at their Outdoor Retailer Show booth. Besides it being useful and cool, it’s made of very tough plastic, so I wasn’t worried about it getting dented along the way.
The eCycle in the name makes you feel like you’re doing some good in the world as you drink to Mother Earth. It’s made from recycled food packaging (up to 25% post-consumer) and if the thing gets too beat up to use anymore (or you drop it under a moving vehicle while waving your arms around telling that great story), you can toss it in any recycling bin that accepts #5 plastic. See more details on that at the Stanley eCycle page.
What else makes this seven-ounce Stanley flask different is how you get into it. There’s the normal screw-off circular lid for pouring or swilling, but then there’s another opening too. The whole rectangular top of the container will flip open, allowing you a bigger space in which to pour ingredients for a cocktail to go. Or to just get the thing clean when you want to go from Bourbon to Vodka—never an easy thing in the ones where you just have to keep filling and rinsing. It’s dishwasher safe—how cool is that!
The main drawback of this is…it’s still hard to find. It supposedly came out in July, but retail orders must have been light because only a few of the usual spots you’d shop for Stanley mugs and bottles seem to have it.
The eCycle flask comes in green or blue and sells for $20. I’m guessing I’ll lose this before it even comes close to wearing out. It’s well-designed and very rugged. Pick up one for your camping friend who drinks or your favorite lush who travels. Check a local retail store, L.L. Bean, or add it to the cart at Amazon.
Autumn is here, and it will be ski and winter travel season in no time. I’ve already worn my ColdPruf base layers on more than one occasion here in Oregon, and will be packing them when I head north to Alberta, Canada next week.
ColdPruf offers multiple product lines, rating them from cold to extreme cold and low activity to high activity. I appreciate that each line falls somewhere on this scale, so you can easily identify which base layer you’ll need based on what you plan to use it for. I tried out their women’s crew and pant in both their Performance and Eco Pro-Tek lines.
Both are rated for ‘very cold’ (the middle option on the cold scale) and ‘high activity’ (the top option on the activity scale). Both tops are long-sleeved crews, and both pants feature an elastic waist and fitted legs, but the main similarities end there.
Performance women’s crew and pant:
The women’s crew features flat seams, a tag-less back, and hemmed cuffs, all great for high activity. Both the crew and the pant are made of 96% performance polyester and 4% spandex, for a nice stretch when exercising, skiing, hiking, or sitting. You get antimicrobial odor-control and great moisture management and evaporation (in plain language, this means you won’t feel chilled or wet when you sweat). The crew is lightweight and thin, making it an ideal layering piece that won’t add bulk. The performance pant offers the same single-layer engineering and flat seams, and adds a comfort waistband that really is just that. Both are a close fit with plenty of give.
Eco Pro-Tek women’s crew and pant:
The Eco crew offers a more flattering cut, with a lower neckline and nice accents to add some color. Both the crew and pant in this line are made of 100% Repreve recycled performance polyester with a mini waffle weave, and are extremely soft. After wearing a lot of synthetic base layer materials, this one is surprisingly comfortable. However, due to the lack of spandex, there is very little give in the Eco line, especially in the pant. I found that while I prefer them for casual wear or travel, I need a base layer with more flexibility while hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing.
The Eco offerings feature the flat seams that are attractive in the performance line, and are also tag- less. You get the same antimicrobial odor-blocking technology. Also like its Performance cousin, the Pro-Tek is single layer. (By the way, this seems to be the main difference between the performance/casual lines and the extreme performance lines at ColdPruf: single vs double layer.)
Pick up either the Eco Pro-Tek or Performance in both men’s and women’s versions, or outfit youth in ColdPruf’s Base or Enthusiast line. I wish they made the Eco line in youth sizes, because my tween son has taken to wearing my Eco Pro-Tek pants, simply due to their softness. For kids who don’t like ‘scratchy’ base layers, this is the solution.
The price is right: ColdPruf’s Performance crew is only $19.99 on Amazon and the Eco Pro-Tek is only $18.36. Pants are approximately the same cost. ColdPruf layers can also be found on Backcountry and Sunny Sports.
This LuminAID lamp ticks off a lot of boxes that make us happy on this travel gear blog: eco-friendly, practical, inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to pack. On top of all that, the company is doing some good in the world as well.
Yes, I’m doing two reviews this week of things that pack down small and then expand at your destination. This time it’s a cool little lantern that stows away in the size you see below—basically a solar panel and a battery—then inflates to be a useful lantern. And as you might have gathered from the top photo, it floats!
This inflatable lantern only weighs three ounces (85 grams), so it’s not going to be much trouble to pack, even for an ultralight backcountry camping trip. When you’re ready to use it, a few puffs of air blows it up and you’ve got a 20- or 30-lumens lamp with a nice soft glow. There’s a flap on top for hanging, so my daughter hung it from a hook on her bunk bed when we were unpacking in a new house and it was bright enough to read by.
Like most solar panel devices of any kind, you need a few hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the battery, six to eight hours if you really want to be sure. But this LuminAID is very efficient after it is charged. We’ve used it at least 12 hours without having to charge it again. The company says it should go for at least 10 hours on high, more like 15 hours on the low setting. There’s just one button to take you from low to high to off.
There’s very little leakage of power with this lantern either: you can store it for months and it’ll still light up. So besides the obvious travel and camping applications (light up your tent or light up a cheap hotel room that has just one dim bulb), this is a good emergency lantern for your car or home. It’ll last for many years if you use it regularly, who knows how long if you don’t.
You can buy one for yourself at Amazon or the LuminAID site, but if you want to do something good for someone who wasn’t born in as lucky a place as you, spend a bit more. If you plop down $28 instead, one lantern will come to you, one will go to someone in a village without electricity. They’ve been handing these out in places like Ethiopia, Laos, and Haiti. See the details here.
The true test of any review is not found in the first few times you try out a product, but rather in how often you reach for that product in the days, weeks, and months following. This is how it’s been for me and the Acorn Annika Mule.
I already had a pair of slippers when I received these Acorns for review. I even thought I liked them. I left them in a prominent place in my closet, the easier to slip them on every morning. But a funny thing happened: I reached for the Acorn mules instead, despite the fact that they were harder to find in the closet. Suffice it to say, they now own that prized closet real estate.
What makes the Acorn Annika Mule so great? Well, it come in lots of cute colors, but cute won’t get me reaching for them every day at 5:30 am. I love that this slipper is fully lined with sherpa fleece, and yet is designed in a way that doesn’t make my feet sweat. You get high density foam from heel to toe for some spring in your step, and the full wrap-around heel means the Acorns won’t slip off when you walk.
If you have to go outside to grab the paper or take out the garbage, the non-slip weatherproof sole is there for you. I find this feature especially useful when I’m traveling, and want to walk around my hotel room without getting my socks grimy. (You don’t even want to think about how dirty hotel floor are…really.) The rubber sole on the Annika is so substantial, I’ve even taken these slippers car camping to wear in the tent and while setting up camp breakfast in the morning, and have been completely comfortable.
They pack down small (you can slide the toe of one slipper into the heel of the other), making them easy to take on the road. They won’t replace your flip-flops or sandals for the hotel pool or sauna (that sherpa fleece would get soaked!) but for all other travel purposes, you’ll be set.
The Annika sells for $65 at Acorn, coming in your choice of dark chocolate, leaf green, magenta, marina, plum, pumpkin, or teal. Truly, looking at the selection is like staring into an Easter egg basket. So pretty! You can also find them at Amazon for as low as $33. or at Backcountry or Planet Shoes for around $55.