Posts Tagged stocking stuffers
Want to get into the holiday spirit without junking up your body? CLIF BARS can come to the rescue with Peppermint Stick, Spiced Pumpkin Pie, and Iced Gingerbread flavors.
Obtaining enough calories to get you through your workouts and outdoor adventures is seldom a problem in December. Everywhere you turn you’re probably avoiding Christmas cookies, chocolates, candy, holiday drinks, and special desserts. You can easily pound down enough sugar and fat to get you through a marathon.
These CLIF BARS are a better thing to grab though if you’re going to huff and puff up a hill or down a mountain. You’ll get carbs, fiber, vitamins, and protein, but not a ton of sugar and fat. Good ingredients for your body (fruit, nuts, oats) and not a lot of bad stuff (like trans fats, corn syrup, or chemical sweeteners).
We don’t write about food much on this travel gear blog, but that doesn’t mean we’re not packing these things for our own adventures. I always look forward to checking out the CLIF booth when I go to the Outdoor Retailer show to see all the different snacks and bars. I usually throw something of theirs in my bag when I’m headed to the airport, the ski slopes, or on a multi-day bike ride.
After a while I get kind of tired of the standard flavors though, so I was happy when a few samples of their seasonal holiday ones arrived in the mail. My daughter tried them and said, “Yum!” I tried them and said, “Yum indeed!”
Which one comes out as your favorite probably depends on how you feel about gingerbread, pumpkin, or peppermint, but all three let that ingredient shine and all definitely made me feel like it was sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I liked the Peppermint Stick one best, partly because the flavor was so different than anything else they have out and also because the pieces of candy cane added some crunchy texture.
You can find CLIF bars all over the place, from Whole Foods to Target, and I’ve seen these seasonal flavors in the grocery store as well. Here’s a list of retailers that carry them. If you need to order them online, act fast. They’re already showing as sold out on Amazon, but they’re still in stock at REI for $1.50 each.
If you’re a real bargain hunter, watch for the leftovers to go on sale after the holidays. They’ll taste just as good, but what hasn’t sold will get cleared out.
How have I not known about Chaos Hats? I spend most of my winter with a beanie on my head (mostly so I don’t have to brush my hair). My favorites are colorful, fun, and cozy…exactly what Chaos delivers. If you’re a winter hat wearer, or have one on your holiday gift list, you’re going to want to bookmark this page: all of these offerings from Chaos would fit nicely in a holiday stocking. And they’re competitively priced, too.
The Spindel doesn’t mess around: it’s thick and bulky, with chunky braided knit and a full fleece lining. It fits over the ears, and includes cute pom tassels and a pom on top. It’s 100% acrylic, and will keep your head warm in serious snow conditions. The Spindel might be over-doing it for a night out on the town or other casual wear, but for a day sledding, tubing, ice skating–you get the idea–it packs some serious warmth. It’s available at Chaos for $26, and comes in three colors (shown is Isis).
Similar to the Spindel in thickness, the Joses hat is styled after your traditional winter stocking cap: you get a folded hem and a big fat pom on top. Also like the Spindel, it’s 100% acrylic but with only a partial fleece lining (in a band around the forehead area). It comes in three colors, including Real Red, which sounds like it would be obnoxiously bright, but is instead a really pretty reddish-coralish color. $29 at Chaos.
This one’s my favorite. The Actier is a knit beanie bonnet style. What, you say? It looks like a stocking cap, but because of the placement of the dangling poms, once on, it hugs the face like a bonnet, allowing the top of the stocking to sit back a bit on the head. It’s cute as could be, trust me. The Actier is hand knit mixed yarn that’s very soft and quite light. It’s not nearly as chunky as the Joses or Spindel, and there’s no lining. It comes in five colors, including Silex, shown here, which is a soft heather gray. It sells on the Chaos site for $29.
This one’s for the kids. It reminded my boys of Angry Birds, but really, it comes in five different colors, each depicting a different birdlike face. It has cute tassels and knit eyes, nose, beak, etc. At $29 on the Chaos site, the Angries is a little steep for a kids’ hat, but totally worth it in the cuteness department. One size fits all: ours fits our seven-year-old and 11-year-old easily.
It took me a while to get to this NikWax review, because I was waiting for natural opportunities to test out their variety of waterproofing and washing products. If you’re unfamiliar, Nikwax makes wash-ins and applicants for tech synthetic materials such as winter wear, backpacking and camping gear, and tents and shelters. Their products are environmentally friendly and help protect your expensive gear and wear by prolonging their life.
NikWax Basewash is a product designed for cleaning synthetic base-layers. I used it all last winter as I washed and rewashed our ski base-layers. You can pour the wash right into your washing machine soap dispenser, or you can use it as a hand wash in a sink or tub. You’ll want to use one full cap per load. After an entire winter of washing base-layers, ours are usually a bit loose and pilly; this wasn’t the case last year. For less than $12 a bottle at Amazon, BaseWash is a worthy investment for taking care of those expensive base-layer garments.
You don’t want to use BaseWash on waterproof clothing items, however. For those, you’ll want TX Direct, also available at Nikwax. I used their TX Direct Wash-in, which works similarly to the BaseWash…just add it to your wash. The TX Direct adds water repellency to clothing as well as renews it. I tossed two of my sons’ lightweight LL Bean windbreakers into the wash with it, hoping to add to the water resistant material before an early summer trip to Canada. (The coats showed no sign of cosmetic damage.) We tested out the result during a rainy bike ride along Vancouver’s Sea Wall, and the kids had no complaints. I watched the water bead up on the coats and roll off. TX Direct is water based, so it’s eco-friendly, too. Use it on GoreTex, Sympatex, and other microfiber fabrics, and you’ll want to reapply after 6-8 regular washes. (Nikwax recommends using their Tech Wash in-between TX Direct washes, but we did alight with regular detergent for these not-so-technical clothing items.) I’ve tried spray-on waterproofing clothing, and wash-in is much easier! Plus, it doesn’t fill the air with chemicals. It’s $13 at REI or CampMor.
Lastly, I tried NitWax’s Tent and Gear Solarproof Concentrate. This stuff is cool: you apply it to tents, awnings, and other synthetic shelters and gear and it both aids water repellency and doubles as a UV protector to give the material a longer life from sun damage. It’s a concentrate, so you’ll want to dilute it with 2 parts product to 5 parts water. Erect your tent and apply with a sponge or spray bottle. I used a spray bottle to treat our 3 person backpacking tent, and though it will take more time to know how it worked against sun damage, we turned the sprinklers on in the backyard to test the water proofing. The water beaded on the fabric nicely, and NikWax’s claim that treated tent material dries faster seems to be true. Within minutes in the sun, our erected tent was dry again. Try it for only $14 at Amazon.
I can’t say enough good things about Darn Tough Vermont. Last season, I reviewed their mesh run/bike and hiking styles in our women’s sock round-up, and I’m pleased to be back singing the praises of their winter offerings for women and children, just in time for stocking stuffer season. (Don’t worry guys: Darn Tough has a great selection for men as well.)
New to me this season is Darn Tough’s ‘Coolmax’ option, which is a wool-alternative. Though I never had any complaints about Darn Tough’s merino wool, I have to admit to loving the softness of Coolmax. So far, it’s performed every bit as well as wool, wicking away moisture and keeping my feet warm and dry, all with a more breathable, more flexible feel.
Below are my top three favorites for winter wear, whether you’re hiking, biking, walking, or skiing.
1. Run/Bike sock: In the summer, you can opt for the mesh version of the Run/Bike sock, and in winter, just switch to the Coolmax or wool version. I like mine cushioned, but you can opt to go without cushion as well. The no-show length stops right at the ankle, but the Run/Bike is also available in a 1/4 sock or crew. Basically, there are about as many ways to order up this sock as there ways to order a latte at Starbucks. I decided to try out one No-Show Merino wool cushioned Bike/Run sock and one No-Show Coolmax cushioned Rike/Run sock, and truly, it’s like Sophie’s Choice: the Coolmax feels softer to me, but darn it if the wool doesn’t feel more substantial. It comes down to personal preference (as long as you’re not of two minds like me). Additional things to love the Run/Bike for: reinforced construction at the toe and heel, and seamless design. I’ve yet to get a blister in these socks. Pick some up from between $13-$15 at Amazon or CampMor.
2. Hike/Trek boot sock: Just like the Run/Bike socks, the Hike/Trek is available with our without Coolmax, although instead of the choice between cushion or no cushion, you get to choose between cushion or extra cushion. No doubt about it, the Hike/Trek socks are more rugged than the Run/Bike, meant for serious winter trekking, snowshoeing, and the like. I wore my pair of boot socks with full cushion all day on a soggy sports field in pouring rain, and my feet survived to freeze another day.
Adventurers choose between a 1/4 sock, micro crew, boot sock, or mountaineering sock, and all come in fun colors and patterns. I like the crew for everyday winter wear, because it comes up just high enough to cover low boots or the fit snug around leggings without encasing my whole calf. While in the elements, give me the boot version. The wool versions include 67% Merino wool with some Nylon and Lycra to add some elasticity, and the Coolmax versions are made with Coolmax Polyester, Nylon, and Spandex. Pick up any version of the Hike/Trek for between $20-$29 at Amazon, CampMor, or Backcountry.
3. Kids Ski/Ride sock: I’ve already mentioned how my kids embraced Darn Tough’s kids’ Hike/Trek socks, and they love the ski socks for the same reason: minimum squeezing, itching, and general irritation. Their Ultra Light ski sock is still padded, and comes up over the calf, but is so lightweight, the kids don’t mind it on (and their feet stay warm). If your kids aren’t weirded out by weighty socks like mine are, they have the option for the cushioned padded ski sock as well. The bright colors are fun (and easy to spot in the ski gear bag). Put them in the kids’ stocking after buying from Amazon or CampMor for around $14.
The Gosmart Clip for smart phones is a truly nifty little gadget small enough to accompany you on any trip. Because it’s so versatile (and almost everyone has a smart phone these days) the Gosmart also makes for a great stocking stuffer. What is it? The Gosmart is a simple plastic clip with adjustable fastener that keeps your hands free while using your smart phone for a variety of purposes. The Gosmart fits phones between 4″ to 5″ tall and less than 0.75″ thick. (It fits my iPhone 4 perfectly, and can also adjust to fit my husband’s Android.)
The Gosmart is both a clip and a mount: you can use it to prop up your phone to watch a video, for instance, but can also attach it to just about anything. I’ve used it most to attach my phone to the outside of my backpack or purse while traveling for easy access when safe to do so, and I’ve attached it to the handlebars of my bike to use the GPS while riding. The manufacturer suggests mounting it on a car steering wheel for easy GPS use, but I found this to be too distracting. (In fact, my husband was terrified at the mere thought of me doing this, given how distracted I already am while driving.) At home, I’ve also loved using the Gosmart clip to mount my phone on shopping cart handles to easily access my shopping list, and if my kids were still stroller-aged, I’d be clipping it on the stroller handle while traveling for sure.
The Gosmart is very small, lightweight, and easy to keep in your purse or bag. It can travel wherever with you, and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of its uses. The strap securing the clip to a surface is adjustable for a snug fit, and it’s easy to slide the clip to different lengths to secure your phone. If you need to answer your phone while it’s attached, it’s simple to unstrap it but answer while it’s still wearing the clip. Of course, if you’re using it on your car steering wheel, you could simply answer hands-free.
Pick up a Gosmart at Amazon for under $24. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be happy to see it in their stocking.