Keep it Cold with Klean Kanteen Insulated 64-ounce Growler

Insulated water bottles seem to be a dime a dozen, with different shapes, sizes, colors and quality of performance. But when you’re looking to lug around a larger amount of beer, kombucha, or cold-brew coffee, do you really want to use a bunch of smaller water bottles—or would you rather use a large container?

Problem is, there are only a few good insulated growlers on the market. One of them is the Klean Kanteen Insulated Growler. I like the 64-ounce one, because it’ll hold more beverage.

The growler is 100 –percent stainless steel and has an 18/8-food-grade interior. The double-wall vacuum insulations will keep your cold beverages (even water) cold for up to 40 hours, and iced beverages cold for up to 120 hours. If your beverage is carbonated, that’ll stay for hours on end, too.

The growler’s stainless Swing Lok Cap is removable for easy cleaning, and is threadless for a tight seal and leak resistance. You don’t want to carry a bunch of beer in a pack for hours only to later find out that it’s leaked all over your stuff, do you?

The large opening (44 mm) fits ice and makes it easy to fill and pour those frosty drinks when you get where you’re going.

The Insulated Growler has Klean Kanteen’s Strong as Steel Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with the product at the time you receive it, or it doesn’t perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store where you bought it to get a replacement or a refund.

I’ve used my growler mostly for beer, but I’m holding out for the moment I find a place to pour large-batch margaritas for my next camping trip. Sure, I could make them at home, but where’s the fun in that?

The Klean Kanteen Insulated Growler comes in brushed stainless and dark amber colors, and lists for $69.95 on the Klean Kanteen site. (There’s also a smaller one, 32 ounces, for $54.95.) The growler is also available at Amazon.

Our Top 5 Woolrich Items for your 2017 Closet

We all have that one Aunt who sends Christmas gifts every year. Every year I would audibly protest receiving them and then the dreaded picture and thank you card. For a couple years, she would send Woolrich and, being the pretween I was, I could never muster the excitement for the presents like my mother. My mom, like most, was a smart woman! She would then “regift” these items to herself. Fast Forward a couple decades and here we are with a beautiful box of Woolrich at my front door.

The products are beautiful and well made. Skeptical of the wool part of Woolrich, I quickly tried on the Women’s Huckleberry II Thermal Pajama set. The legs and wrists are finished with wide elastic bands that are not constricting but allow the leg to stay in place while sleeping. The waffle knit fabric is light, which I prefer because I sleep hot. Aesthetically, the print is adorable and whimsical. Pajamas aren’t meant to be serious… they are meant for comfort, coffee drinking and then usually wine drinking (in our house).

Now, to accompany those warm Huckleberry II Thermal Pajamas, I also tested out the Women’s Snowfall Valley Sherpa-lined Mittens. I really should have titled this ‘I hate Being Cold’. My girlfriends and I were off to an outdoor concert given by the one and only Cyndi Lauper when the forecast called for unusually colder temps in September. I grabbed the mitten on the way out and was I ever thankful I did! They are incredibly soft and cozy on the inside. I feel as if I gave them the real test… entrusting they could maintain the chilliness of my drink without freezing my hands. I am happy to announce that they passed this girl’s concert test! The snowflake design on the outside is attractive. My only suggestion for these is to order smaller than normal as they run big.

One of my FAVORITE items in the box of goodies is the Women’s Oxbow Bend Tunic Flannel Shirt. I received a small in the Old Red Buffalo print. At first, I was worried about looking too hipster in the print with its popularity with the ‘young kids’.  But, I should tell you, screw looking hipster! I LOVE this Oxbow Bend shirt and will find reasons to wear it multiple days in a row. Woolrich knocked it out of the park with this heavy weight flannel. My only grip is that it can be too relaxed of a cut…allowing one to eat more knowing they can hide the food baby. Consider sizing down if you are on the cusp of a size. I love wearing this Woolrich shirt with leggings, ankle boots and my Vinyasa Scarf from LuLuLemon. The length on the shirt allows for optimum bum coverage when wearing the official pant of moms.

Woolrich also provided a Women’s Long Way Fringe Cardigan Sweater for traveling. Real travel, not those errands running days, which it works well for too. The design is grown up without feeling O-L-D and safe (bring it hipsters). The cut allows for it to be worn perfectly with jeans or Woolrich’s Back Up Beauty Ponte Pants-Slim Fit. The high-low cut doesn’t provide enough bum coverage to wear with leggings. The Long Way Fringe is warm and allows you to literally wrap yourself into on long cold flights or in the cold movie theatre while you are watching Trolls. Casual enough to wear traveling and while grabbing a quick drink with some girlfriends.

Along with that one Aunt, you might also have that one sibling. You know, the one who comes over to your house for a pizza night and ends up leaving with your Women’s Bur Basin Merino Wool Leggings because she has a fishing trip and she doesn’t want to be cold, either! I am happy to report that while on her fishing trip she lived in the Bur Basin Merino Wool leggings and coordinating Bur Basin Merino Wool Long Sleeve Henley Shirt without being cold. Easily worn as a base layer and pajamas, its safe to say she is in love with them. The Bur Basin line sports a moderate high waist, think material coverage without causing overheating and a slim fit to maintain a comfortable body temperature. An ideal base layer for skiing, fishing, snowman building or s’more making.

Looking into 2017’s line, I am excited to test out the Woolrich shoe line! Have you seen the mashup between Woolrich and Chuck Taylor? Their Woolrich X Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Street Hiker is the bee’s knees! I’ve also had my eye on a parka or two of theirs and with record snowfall in our area this year, I can’t wait to get my hands, torso, neck and head into one.

Lowa Tiago GTX Lo shoe

I’ve loved Lowa shoes and boots for years, and have described them as the perfect travel shoe. The new Lowa Tiago GTX Lo is no exception. What makes them perfect for traveling? The Lowa Tiago is multi-functional, which is essential when you travel and have limited packing space. I need my travel shoe to be able to perform during simple hikes as well as be comfortable during long days when I’m on my feet for hours. They need to be lightweight and packable, but also weatherproof and durable. They need to look good and match most outfits and travel styles.

Lowa Tiago

The Tiago Lo replaced Lowa’s popular Tempest Lo, with a more athletic design and a focus on comfort. I have found that the Tiago is athletic enough to replace my standard running shoes when I travel, which is a huge plus. Instead of packing two pairs of shoes–my running shoes and my Tiago for walking and city touring–I now only have to pack one. They are rugged enough for hiking, but look sleek enough to wear when walking around a city or historic site. Again…multi-functional.

I like that the design of the Tiago is streamlined and simple: I have the Antracite/Berry color, which is a deep gray with minimal purple accents, but it also comes in denim, slate, and gray colors. Each are understated, so they can look good with slacks or an athletic skirt as well as with running tights, hiking pants, and leggings.

The Tiago is breathable yet waterproof, and has a split leather upper with a Gore-Tex lining. The footbed features climate control, which cuts down on odor, and the shoe weighs in at only 980 grams. You get a rugged, high edge stability in the outsole, without the heaviness and clunkiness of a full-blown hiking boot. Mine have taken me everywhere I want to go on my travels, without any bulk.

Pick up the Tiago in either a standard size or a wide size, in women’s shoe sizes 7.5 to 14. They’re $160 on Lowa, a good value for an all-purpose travel and outdoor shoe, and available on Amazon as well as other outdoor gear sites.

Lycos Life Advanced, Interactive Smart Band

Photo credit, Lycos Life

Photo credit, Lycos Life

This waterproof smart band from Lycos Life is designed to handle multiple functions of your daily life. They include the ability to monitor your heart rate and energy exertion and sync up with an app for smart phones.

But, it does oh so much more. It is supposed to simplify your life by storing digital passwords and information to create a “single point of entry” for peoples’ digital activity. It can unlock your cell phone with a simple tap and monitor the quality and quantity of your sleep. To serve as a comforting wake up call, it simply vibrates to quietly awaken you from a deep sleep.

Through a series of sensors, it can track the number of steps taken and calories burned while also monitoring your walking speed and heart rate.
I must admit that I am not a tech-savvy person and am still old school when it comes to staying up to date with the latest technology. Still, this intriguing band is lightweight and doubles as a watch that fits comfortably on your wrist without being too tight. It is perfect when traveling and allows you to do multiple things with one device like monitor incoming calls and handle notifications from your phone while giving you complete hands-free flexibility. It can unlock your phone and uses Tap2Transfer functionality to share information easily and securely.

This waterproof band requires regular charging, which can be done easily overnight, but it can last for as much as two weeks between charges.
Other unique functions allow you to share phone numbers and contact information with business colleagues wirelessly, but again, it requires a type of savvy that not all frequent business travelers possess.

Like a personal assistant on your arm, this button-free wristband is surprising that the price tag is a relatively affordable $125, but it does take a bit of getting used to for it to become something of value to a frequent traveler.

I never had any trouble connecting it wirelessly via Bluetooth, but someone that has never used that type of device may need a bit of hand holding to get it all set up. It is meant to compete with the FitBit while also providing increased functionality that a business traveler may find important.

The band is slim and free of distracting gadgetry, but it is hardly overly stylish or sleek. It is available from the Lycos website and on Amazon.

La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody for Warmth in Action

Jackets that are made for warmth aren’t always made for aerobic action. For as many times I’ve been out in the cold in my puffy jacket and been thankful I had it, I’ve also been out with the same jacket while snowshoeing, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing and been sweating to death.

That’s why I’m thankful for my La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody.

Made with Technostretch (88 percent polyester, 12 percent elastic) fabric, the hoody allows for a wide freedom of movement with the four-way stretch material. That’s essential when you’re out and moving, instead of hanging out during après, or taking a leisurely walk between your hotel and the restaurant. It’s fade- and pilling-resistant, too, so you’ll have it longer than some of the competing hoodies.

The fabric also has a Bluesign-approved Polygiene anti-bacterial and anti-odor treatment, so you don’t have to worry about smelling funky after wearing it for a few days of activity. And when your suitcase is packed full of heavy winter wear, you want to make sure that every piece of clothing can be worn more than once. And hey, it’s it more fun to roll into the bar right after a great outdoor excursion than to take the time to shower and pretty up and then get your rewarding beverage?

The flatlock seams won’t chafe or rub when you’re outside doing your thing, and the flat pocket construction ensures that when you toss your phone or keys into your pocket, the items won’t get in your way—unless you shove tons of things in there.

The two front hand-warmer pockets are large enough for your hands, as well as some additional gear (as mentioned above) and zip so you don’t lose things. A smaller arm zippered pocket can stash cash, cards, or a phone if it doesn’t bug you.

One of my favorite things is ponytail access in the back of the hood, because it’s not entirely comfortable to have your hair in a ponytail and then shoved into a hood. This way, you can let your pony fly free.

The La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody comes in berry or fjord/blue moon, and lists for $139 on the La Sportiva site.

Sierra Designs Front Country sleeping bag

If you’re one of those people who find traditional sleeping bags to be uncomfortable, it’s time to try a sleeping ‘bed’ instead. Sierra Designs has developed an entire line of sleeping beds, both for the backcountry and front country (i.e., mummy-style for backpacking vs rectangular-style for car camping and indoor sleeping). We tried out the Frontcountry bed twin size during a five-night hotel and family couch surfing marathon during the holidays.

frontcountry bed

So what makes this sleeping bag a sleeping bedIn a word, roominess. And comfort. I guess that’s two words. The Frontcountry sleeping bed is zipperless. You enter it via a large opening in the top. There’s an oversized, integrated comforter sealing the opening, so the arrangement feels more like sleeping with blankets over you than inside a sleeping bag. You can sleep comfortably and naturally on your back, side or stomach. There are even hand pockets on the inside of the comforter part of the bed, allowing you to slide your hands in and keep the comforter on top of you all night (without sliding). The oval opening is designed to intuitively adjust in width to prevent cold drafts, yet it won’t restrict your natural sleeping position.

We found the Frontcountry Twin size to be absolutely perfect to bring along for sleeping in hotel rooms or family member’s couches, because we didn’t need the extreme draft protection of a mummy-style bag (though as noted above, the sleeping bed comes in a backcountry version as well). Paired with a cot or travel bed, the Frontcountry was like a portable, ready-made set of sheets and comforter, making it easy to be comfy while not packing a whole set of bedding. There’s even a sleeve on the bottom side, which can fit around a mattress for a perfect fit. You could also slide a backpacking/camping mattress into the sleeve. The bed is made of nylon and poly weave, and the bottom is generously padded. You really feel as though you’re sliding into a cushy bed, not into a sleeping bag.

Because it has the comforter-style top, it’s bulkier than you standard sleeping bag, so you do need to allow more room to pack it on your travels, and it needs to be folded and rolled into its included carry bag, not stuffed. But for occasions when space is not at a premium, it’s a downright luxury to have. In addition to the twin size we tried out, you can get the Frontcountry bed in a queen size, duo size, and youth size. It comes in a synthetic fill or a DriDown/synthetic mix, and is rated to 30 degrees.

Pick up a Frontcountry bed in the twin size at Sierra Designs for $189, or look for it on Amazon for a few bucks less.

Lug Clearview Envelopes

Lug Clearview Envelopes

Lug Clearview Envelopes

Keeping small items separated in your carry-on bag is an art, one that I am not particularly skilled at doing on a regular basis. The Lug Clearview envelopes are a stylish way to keep things organized. The bags are great for TSA-approved toiletries (although many overseas airports, we are looking at you London Heathrow, still force you to use their oblong plastic bags).

I like the fact that these bags zip open and close to keep things contained (plastic bags can sometimes leak or open) and that they come in multiple sizes. Beyond toiletries, these bags are great to separate things like keys, pens, club lounge or frequent flier cards, and medicine. I also like to use them to keep foreign currency separated within my bag and grab it in a hurry, which is helpful when traveling within countries.

The bottom of the clear bags have colorful, soft cushioning with geometric stitching that helps to keep the contents safe. But, the soft base also has another purpose because I can easily reach for things within my bag based upon color codes. These are also great for families traveling with small toys, coloring supplies, or even snacks.

The plastic of the bags interior and exterior is easy to wipe clean, and they can even be gently washed on the inside. They are both lightweight and durable plus they come in sets of two or four. An adjustable shoulder strap is also available to carry it as a small purse or travel bag with passport and other necessary security documents.

This is a simply, practical idea that adds a bit of vibrancy to otherwise mundane organization. They retail for $20 for two or slightly more for larger sets and are available on Amazon.

Smartwool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Hoody Sport has Baselayer and Midlayer Covered

It there’s anything worth repeating over and over about the best types of travel gear, it’s the value of items that cover more than one function. Clothing that cover dress-up or dress-down situations, or even clothing that can be worn for more than just extreme temperatures—on either the high or low side—are of the highest value when you’re trying to pack light.

The Smartwool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Hoody Sport performs well as both a baselayer and midlayer in circumstances when you need warmth on the trail/slope/street, but then when you’re done with the outdoors, want something that will look good when you’re relaxing après sport. It’s ideal as a single layer in cool weather and a baselayer in cold weather.

The body of the hoody is made of 100-percent Merino wool, which keeps you warm, manages moisture better than cotton, is smarter than synthetics, and is more comfortable in any weather condition. It’s year-round, breathable, and naturally resists odor. Plus, it doesn’t itch like traditional wool.

Strategically placed DWR  100-percent polyester panels on the shoulders and hood of this jacket increases protection from the elements, as well as durability in high-wear areas (especially under backpacks). But remember, underneath these panels lies the Merino wool layer, so you’re staying warm, too.

The jacket is form-fitting, so if you’re considering more layers underneath, you may want to size up, just in case. The flatlock seams are designed to eliminate chafing, whether your outdoor style is aggressive or just a little less so. And kangaroo pockets provide additional warmth for hands, even if you have gloves on.

Wool can be confusing sometimes, with regard to cleaning. For this piece, Smartwool suggests machine washing warm in the gentle cycle, no bleach, tumble dry low, and iron low (if you must iron at all). It’s also cool to dry clean.

The Smartwool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Hoody Sport comes in light loden heather, desert purple heather, and charcoal heather, and lists for $150 on the Smartwool site. It’s also available at Amazon.

Travel socks for the whole family

If you haven’t already invested in quality, high performance travel socks for the whole family, January seems like a good time to do so! Start the new year with wool, cotton, and wool-blend socks that travel well (they don’t smell!), perform everywhere from ski slopes to hiking trails, and keep your feet comfy on travel days.

top performance socks

Top pick from Hi-Tec:

Performance hiking sockYou may know Hi-Tec for their boots (we have reviewed several models), but their socks hit just the same note of quality and affordability. Their performance hiking socks are $19.99, and feature a full cushion through the leg, a deep heel pocket, arch compression for support, and a reinforced heel and toe. This means the sock is going to last through more than a few seasons of wear. There’s added cushioning in key zones for shock absorption, too. The performance hiking sock comes in men’s and women’s versions, and is a mid-calf length. Pick up a pair on Amazon for $19.99.

Top pick from Balega:

Enduro sock: Balega is best known for their running socks, and I certainly do run in mine. But I also stash a few pairs in my carry on, because these are the most comfortable socks I’ve found for air travel days. They have a thicker weave than you’d expect, but are still very small and lightweight to bring along. I love the Enduro because of its seamless toe, its arch-support system, and its reinforced heel. The low-cut version is my favorite, but it also comes in a no-show, and in a quarter cut and a crew cut for men. Pick up a pair on Amazon for under $12.

Top picks from Darn Tough Vermont:

I couldn’t pick just one choice from Darn Tough, who I think may make the best youth socks for travel and outdoor adventure. While certainly the whole family can get into the Darn Tough club, these two picks stand out for kids:

Kids light ski sock: Darn Tough makes a cushioned ski sock for kids, but for some reason, my kids prefer their ‘light’ version, which is thinner, lighter, and ‘doesn’t make their feet hot’. They come in really fun patterns, too, like their Captain Stripes American flag sock. The light ski sock still goes over the calf and is Merino wool, but since they’re thinner, we’ve found we can use them year-round as comfortable hiking socks, too. Pick up a pair on Amazon for under $16, an excellent price for wool ski socks.

Hike/Trek Light Hiker Jr: The light hiker is just that…an airy yet substantial hiking sock that’s made of wool, cushioned for comfort on the trail, seamless, and built for wicking ability. They come in a crew cut in a variety of colors and fun stripe patterns, too! Pick up a pair on Amazon for under $14.

DSTLD Raw Premium Slim Jeans

These Raw Premium Slim jeans from DSTLD are exceptionally comfortable for long travel days. What one may think at first glance is that slim jeans may be too tight for a flight, but these are not extremely tight. They are a great, straight-fit pair of pants made in the United States with contemporary flair.

If you travel frequently to Europe or even New York or Los Angeles, these jeans are the latest style. Baggy, loose jeans look extremely loose, and I prefer this more tailored look. Plus, they take up less room in my carry-on bag since they are thinner and lighter weight.

They feature darker or lighter washes, and after multiple loads of laundry over time, the color and shade have held up nicely. Another important thing to note is that they have do not shrink or fray after constant laundry cycles.

The jeans have a slight stretch, but not enough to notice by anyone except the wearer. That is probably the primary reason why they are so comfortable to travel in since they have a bit of “give.” The lower part of the jeans are a tad wider, tapering a bit to allow you to wear the jeans with boots or higher-style shoes. The stitching along the sides is not too noticeable and blends in well with the color palette of the fabric.

The back pocket is not too low, which I find to be the case with many jeans and creates an awkward bulge from my wallet when I sit down. The zipper in front is easy to slide up and down, and the button is stitched firmly so that it does not easily come loose or bulge underneath a belt.

Many people worry that slim jeans may be a bit tight in the crotch or in the side pockets, but designers gave that a bit of thought and made them roomy enough for comfort without sacrificing on the slim style.

What gives the jeans that signature color is the 24-dip dye process that the company takes seriously. But, what makes them most popular with customers is the fair price point of $65. While most stylish jeans can cost several hundreds of dollars, DSTLD has created a quality pair that does not break the bank. They are available on the DSTLD website.

Now, if only I could stop spilling food on them while on the road! Good thing I have a darker pair that hides the stains well until I get them washed.

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