travel hats

Posts Tagged eco-friendly

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

lifestraw-go-bottleLifeStraw Go is one of the best new products I’ve reviewed this year. To understand the Go, however, it’s important to be familiar with the original LifeStraw product. Named the Best Invention of 20o5, LifeStraw is a personal water filtration system that’s as simple as it is effective: it’s essentially a straw that one can dip into any water source and drink from safely. The original LifeStraw can be used with various water bottles (or used solo), and of course, the implications of this invention for the promotion of worldwide health is staggering. (Important side note: your LifeStraw purchase supports LifeStraw product use in the developing world.)

The LifeStraw Go takes the LifeStraw product one step further, but I’m happy to say they still manage to keep it simple. What you get is a BPA-free water bottle with a standard flip-top bite valve, which is connected to the original LifeStraw (included). The straw removes bacteria, protozoan parasites and turbidity from contaminated water (the exact amount is 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria removed) and there’s no aftertaste, since the bottle does not use iodine or chemicals. The size of the bottle is 23 ounces, and it weighs just under 8 ounces.

Here’s all you do: scoop water up with the bottle (or fill the bottle at any source), screw the lid back on with the LifeStraw filter attached, and drink. When the water bottle is empty (or if the filter gets clogged), blow out of the straw. Reuse again and again. That’s it!

For our family backpacking trips, the LifeStraw Go won’t replace our larger water filtration system, but for solo ventures into the wilderness, it will be my companion. When my teen son treks a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail next summer, he’ll have it with him as a backup filter, and it will accompany him on his upcoming service trip to Costa Rica. While most of the water he will encounter will be bottled, he has a knack for finding unsafe water and drinking it while abroad. Now I won’t have to worry.

In short, I’ve reviewed a personal water filtration bottle in the past, and I have to say, LifeStraw Go is vastly easier to use. You get a carabineer included as well. Plus, you can always take the LifeStraw off the lid and use it solo if you’d like. The LifeStraw weighs only 2 ounces, making it a good backup filter to pack in any bag. Consider it insurance while in the backcountry or abroad. 

Buy LifeStaw Go for $34.95 on the LifeStraw site (and they will ensure a child in Africa one school year’s worth of clean drinking water), or check prices at Moosejaw and Paragon Sports. For a bargain, you can pick up a five pack of bottles at Amazon for $59.

no iodine, no chemicals

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sigg Thermo Classic Bottles

Sigg-thermo-bottle‘Tis the season for steaming drinks after outdoor excursions! I’m something of a collector of thermal bottles and mugs, as evidenced by the disarray in my cupboards, but given that I use thermal containers nearly every day of the winter, I feel justified.

The new Thermo collection at SIGG includes four sizes of bottles ranging from 0.3L to 1L, and come in teal, classic white, and smoked pearl. They look as good as they sound, with a sleek minimalist design characteristic of SIGG. I really like the tall and thin style, as I find the bottles fit better in my backcountry pack (even in the water bottle pocket) and take up less room in my soft-sided cooler. However, both the .75L and 1L are taller than any other thermos style bottle I own, so adjustments to my packing style are sometimes necessary.

The bottles are sized at 0.3L (personal tea or coffee bottle), 0.5L (could be big enough for individual soups), 0.75L (my personal favorite for hot water to serve 3-4 people a warm drink) and 1.0L (tall and lean…ready to keep a group in hot coffee). The two smaller sizes come equipped with a tea filter, if that’s your bag (sorry about the pun). The two larger models come with adjoining cups that serve as lids, and while I’ve certainly seen this done on many other thermal bottles, none I own are as generous in size (see photo below). The SIGG lids are big enough to serve as a genuine bowl for that cup-o-noodle you’ve been packing across the slopes all day.

It’ll come as no surprise that SIGG Thermo bottles are made of high-end stainless steel that is both odor and taste neutral and are of course BPA and Phthalates Free. They’re advertised as able to keep beverages hot for up to eight hours; I tried this out after sealing in boiling water at 7 am and opening it again at 1 pm. Our water was warm enough to heat our drinks and soup packets, but not piping hot (after six hours). The Thermo performed as well as our other thermal bottles, but I did hope for a little more heat retention. More importantly to me, however: I experienced zero leakage from the Thermo while it remained packed in my pack during those six hours.


All in all, the SIGG Thermos are a solid pick for your thermal liquid needs this winter. They range in price from $24.99 to $39.99, depending on size. Grab one on the SIGG site, or find them at Eastern Mountain Sports for a little less.

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

8 Great Camping and Outdoor Stocking Stuffers

Whether you’re playing Santa for an outdoor enthusiast in your life, or just want to fill a stocking full of camping gear for yourself, the following nifty products make for great additions to your holiday shopping list.

Coghlan’s LED tent pegs: We love Coghlans! And I’ve tripped over my tent’s guy lines more times than I care to admit. Coghlan’s 10” heavy duty tent pegs now feature a single LED light for visibility at night. Just twist on, and you’ve got a nice glow around your tent. Just $3.99 for a pack of two at Amazon.

Light My Fire knifeLight My Fire Swedish Fire Knife: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want something called a fire knife in my stocking. Light My Fire’s unique fire-starting knife really is all that: this camp knife comes with a plastic sheath and a high-friction rubber handle, and it creates its own spark via a FireSteel Scout, which twists into the knife’s handle when not in use. Get it on Amazon in one of five fun colors for $28. I also love Light My Fire’s meal kits, perfect for young backpackers.

Arka LED rechargeable lantern: This camp lantern by Industrial Revolution is compact, lightweight, and collapsible, perfect for camping and overnights in outdoor shelters like yurts and fire towers, where electricity may be scarce or nonexistent. Recharge the lantern via USB cable to your smart phone. Can be used as a flashlight or strobe light, too! Pick it up for $69 on Amazon. (See Tim’s review from earlier in the year here: Uco Arka lantern.)

Dublin Dog KOA collarsFor the outdoor-loving dogs in your life, how about outfitting them with waterproof collars that don’t stink? Not even after months and months? Our two dogs have been sporting designs from Dublin Dog’s Trout line since summer, and I am sold! They won’t ever wear another type of collar. The KOA material repels dirt and grime, and the collars really do stay fresh-smelling. Pick one up at Amazon for under $30, depending on size.

grayl water filtration cupIcebug ArchFlex Insoles: Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve been running and hiking with Arch Flex insoles since July, and while I’ve tried many insoles over the years, these are the ones I reach for. They’re slim, easy to get in and out of my shoe, and provide the right shock relief for my repetitive running and hiking movements. Pick high arch or low, plus shoe size. Find them on Amazon.

GRAYL Water Filtration CupIf you have someone headed to a part of the world lacking potable drinking water, the new Grayl makes for a nice gift. Like other water purification bottles, the Grayl has its drawbacks, but is overall a solid choice for travelers who need access to filtered water all day, every day. The cup, which looks and feels more like a bottle, features a duel cylinder construction wherein the user filters water through the bottom of the inner cylinder via a carbon filter. Once you’ve given it a few practice runs, it’s easy to use, though be advised: until it’s well ‘worn in’, the cylinders can be hard to pull apart, due the the vacuum seal. (As I said, not without its drawbacks.) However, the Grayl is sleek and shiny, heavy but definitely portable, and features a nice open-close design. If using abroad, you’ll need to upgrade the filter to the ‘purifier’, but once you’ve done so, you’re good to go for 300 uses. Buy the Grayl on REI for $69.

Liberty bottleCocoon Ultralight Microfiber terry towel: I love Cocoon travel products! I have used their travel pillow and packing cube, but by far my favorite product is their microfiber towel. Perfect for backpackers, campers, and round-the-world travelers, the Cocoon is small, thin, and light, but still actually does the job intended…you know, actually dry your body. Set it outside to dry afterward, and it will be good to go again in no time. Pick it up for your travel or backpacking friend for under $35 on Amazon.

Liberty Bottle Works Topo bottle: I would say I use this 100% recycled aluminum USA-made bottle every day, but I can’t: the minute I got it, my teen son took it. I think he loves the topographical map design best (ours features Mt. Rainier) but it may be the straw or the easy to open and close flip top lid with carrying handle. Pick out the map your hiking loved one can relate to most for as low as $12 on Amazon. It’s also available at

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Stanley eCycle Flask for Adult Beverages

Stanley eCycle FlaskI’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.

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

ColdPruf Performance and Eco base layers

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.

ColdPruf base layers

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.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments