travel hats

Posts Tagged outdoors

Granite Gear Leopard AC 58 Backpack

 Testing out the Leopard AC 58 has served as my introduction to Granite Gear, and I have to say, I’m impressed. Of course, their Leopard series has been tested by far worthier outdoors-people than me: gear testers Justin ‘Trauma’ Lichter and Shawn ‘Pepper’ Forry took the packs on a trek through the Himalayas. For those of us with slightly more humble itineraries, here’s my take.

Leopard AC 58 backpackThe Leopard AC 58 includes a lot of bells and whistles. I mean, a lot. There are multiple loops and hooks for just about anything you think you’ll need, from gear loops to crampon holders. And with extra ties and buckles, you can customize to your heart’s content. The pack is highly adjustable: not only do you select torso size (regular or short) and belt size (small through XL), but the shoulder straps offer more height options than any other pack I’ve tried.

And the customization doesn’t end there. I’ve never seen a pack with more flexibility in terms of storage space. Hidden pockets and panels abound, and all can be expanded or shortened by the use of clips and ties. The biggest challenge it remembering where you stashed everything. The expandability carries over to the main compartments, too: when you’re hiking light, it’s easy to tighten down the straps and roll down the top compartment opening to utilize a very small space, but all these sections also expand to impressionable depth. This is a pack for the fast and light hiker, that can adjust to carry bigger loads when necessary.

The pack features two sections that allow the greatest capacity-flexibility: the sides and the top. On the sides, clips keep side panels folded almost nearly in half for when you need a streamlined look, and the back panel lies close to the main compartment. Fill the compartment, and the back panel expands and the side panels can be let out. At the top, the pack’s roll-top design works like the closure on a watertight dry bag: fill as much as you want, then roll to close. The extra space is sizable.

The Vapor Airbeam frame offers weight savings (this is where that fast and light hiker is pleased) and the total weight is only 3 pounds, 5 ounces. I was skeptical about the Airbeam frame at first: with a full panel of fabric, would it feel too hot? Nope, it remained comfortable on a long, dry hike for my husband, who kindly tried it out for me. We didn’t need the extra space on our hike, so I battened down the hatches, so to speak, taking the time to find all the nifty pockets and tie-downs. (My favorite is the small zippered pocket at the bottom of the back panel, perfect for a phone or keys.) I was also very pleased with the water bottle holders on each side: I can be picky about this, as I hate having to struggle for my bottle when I need it. Standard water bottles slid into and out of the stretchy pockets easily.

Can there be such a thing as too many bells and whistles? Sure. If you’re not a hiker or backpacker who has differing packing needs for various excursions, you might not need all this flexibility. Ditto if you don’t carry a lot of technical tools and gear. If, however, you have a variety of needs, the Leopard will be all things to you.

The Leopard AC retails for $249 at Granite Gear and is also available at Moosejaw, Backcountry, and Amazon. Interested in the women’s specific model? Check out the Leopard AC 58 Ki.

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Sunday Afternoons Sun Protection Clothing for Kids

Sunday Afternoons makes affordable, high-quality sun protection clothing for kids and adults. They’re based near my hometown in Oregon, but trust me, Sunday Afternoons knows how to block bright sunshine. We took both a child’s hat and tee along for a Southern California desert camping trip through Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, and my fair-skinned Oregon-native boy lived to tell the tale!

sunday-afternoons

Sunday Afternoons’ Radiant Tee is the perfect all-purpose, no-frills sun protection t-shirt. It’s a simple crew-neck with long sleeves and a roomy cut, is quick-dry, and rated to UPF 50. It does feature anti-micrbial properties (I look for this when purchasing outdoor clothing for my boys) and can get tossed in the wash with all the other clothing (no special treatments required). It’s long-sleeved but lightweight and comfortable in heat, and comes in multiple colors for boys and girls (tide pool, white, and blue fin for boys, the same for girls plus dahlia). Best of all, the Radiant Tee is only $20 on Sunday Afternoons. Sizes start at 2T and go to Large, which is approximately a child’s 10-12.

sunday-afternoons

The brand is known for their sun hats, and my kids have been wearing them since infancy. My nine-year-old’s current favorite is the Scout hat (pictured above), probably because it looks a lot like Mom and Dad’s. He’s outgrown the billed hats and the bonnet-styles, but the Scout looks downright cool. He’s worn it everywhere from Disneyland to Death Valley. It does equally well when soaked in water (while river rafting) and in wind or rain (it does still have a draw cord for the chin). The Scout hat comes in Iris, Morning Glory, Tan, and Sand, in baby or youth sizing. Pick one up for only $26 on Sunday Afternoons, or on Amazon for the same price.

You can find a wide range of Sunday Afternoons hats at REI and some of their hats and sun protection clothing at Backcountry.

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Dr. Cool Recovery Wraps

If you play hard during your vacations, traveling with a set of Dr. Cool Recovery Wraps isn’t a bad idea. As we like to camp, mountain bike, hike, and ski with three very active and growing boys, we’ve used our recovery wraps multiple times (and we’ve only owned a set for a few weeks).

dr-cool-recovery-wraps

What it is:

Dr. Cool Recovery Wraps are compression wraps with velcro closure that can be soaked with water and frozen for immediate injury treatment. They can be used on just about any body part, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Apparently, it’s the only product which combines ice and compression in one wrap (though of course it can be used dry if all you need is compression). As a former wilderness EMT, I was taught that cold and compression is the most effective way to reduce swelling in the field, and speed recovery in general. Sure, you can use a standard ice pack, but those are bulky and heavy to pack for your outdoor adventures, and you’ll have to pack wraps separately.

How to use them:

To use Dr. Cool wraps at home or at a hotel or resort,  simply wet the wrap under a faucet or at a sink, then roll it and freeze it for 20 minutes. Tip: don’t freeze for much longer than this, or you’ll end up with a wrap that’s frozen solid for hours. There’s something called Coolcore in the material that keeps the wrap cold longer than average.  When you need it, unwrap and apply. We’ve found the wraps to stay icy cold (but still flexible) for about an hour.

This video gives a good demonstration:

If you’re on the trail or otherwise away from a freezer, you’ll need to wet your wrap ahead of time, and store in an insulated bag or cooler. Dr. Cool sells a bag that fits one wrap, but we’ve found standard insulated lunch bags to work as well. Their cooler is only $10, however, so might be worth picking up along with the wraps.

Wraps come in small ($24), medium ($29), and large ($34). They’re reusable, of course. On average adults and teens, we’ve found the small size to work well for ankle and wrist injuries and the medium to work for other limb injuries (knees, elbows, etc). The large is quite big, and would be used for torso or shoulder injuries (of which we luckily haven’t suffered yet). You get your pick of seven bright colors, and each wrap does have a hole at one end for easier wrapping around knees, elbows, and heels. For now these are hard to find at stores or online retailers, so you’ll have to go direct. Pick up one or more at Dr. Cool for the prices above.

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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

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Costa del Mar Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades Sunglasses

Mossy Oak Grass sunglasses

Costa del Mar is known for its plethora of styles and high quality sunglasses, but its latest pattern is especially unique for its color blends. This is the latest addition to its lineup and is available in Costa’s Caballito, Fantail, Fisch, Hatch, Rockport and Tuna Alley frames.

The blades of grass pattern recall the attire of hunters and fishermen looking to conceal themselves in the marsh. My biggest pet peeve with any type of glasses is that the hinges sometimes lose their grip and the glasses bend outward. While this pair does adjust to the shape of your head, it has sturdier hinges and a solid nylon frame construction that does not feel weighty on your face.

Since these sunglasses are always worn outdoors, there is also a no-slip Hydrolite surface on the nose and interior linings to keep them from sliding down your face, which can sometimes happen in hot weather when sweating or in the rain.

The lenses block yellow light – the harshest light – from entering the eye, which helps to reduce strain, reduce glare, and provide excellent polarization. Lens colors are adjustable based upon your own preference, and I found my light blue frame to be quite stylish. I was worried that it would make it appear more shaded or darker for me, but on the contrary, it was easy to see through them. Sometimes, I find that darker glasses prove challenging to truly distinguish smaller details when wearing them.

The Mossy Oak pattern complements the brand’s camouflage line. They can be fitted with prescription lenses as well. These comfortable glasses are available online at Costa del Mar’s website or outdoor retailers starting around $159. You can also find some styles at Amazon. While they will appeal more to outdoorsmen than business travelers, it is a fun way to differentiate yourself while on the beach or sitting by the pool.

See other Costa del Mar sunglasses reviews.

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