Sleep warm with Big Agnes Crosho UL-20 sleeping bag

Big Agnes Crosho UL -20

In some places across the globe, spring means warmer temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, it’s not spring at all—but fall. And in high altitudes, it can still be cold at night.

So, when you’re traveling where you need to be concerned with staying warm at night (and are packing your own sleeping bag), temperature rating is a big deal. When I camped in the Ladakh region of India in February, high in the Himalayas, I had to make sure my sleeping bag was rated to -20 Fahrenheit. I brought the Big Agnes Crosho UL-20 sleeping bag.

The Crosho is a hardcore Goldilocks mummy bag—ultralight, warm enough for the most extreme environments, and with a high-tear strength shell. It’s just right.

The warmth comes from DownTek, a water-repellant treated down that stays dry (absorbing 30 percent less water and drying 60 percent faster than untreated down), is washable without losing its ability to repel water, doesn’t add any more weight than untreated down, and is PFOA and PFOS free (for those who are looking for more natural products).

The body mapped baffle construction in the sleeping bag is done to optimize thermal efficiency, and the vertically structured side walls integrate contoured baffles that trap heat closer to the body. The contoured hood baffles fit the head for a contoured fit, and the oversized interior draft collar helps prevent heat loss.

For my nights of camping in the Himalayas in winter, I used the Crosho with a sleeping pad, a thick Ladahki blanket, and two hot water bottles each night. I was almost too hot. But waking in the morning to a thin layer of ice on the Crosho right below my nose was enough to convince me I had the right sleeping combo. All I had to do was drape my sleeping bag over the top of my tent in the morning sun for about 30 minutes, and it was perfectly dry again.

You may not be planning a vacation in the Himalayas in winter, I get that. But that’s not the only place that gets cold at night. The Crosho isn’t for budget campers, but if you need hardcore thermal protection when you’re out camping, it’s good to have it along.

The Big Agnes Crosho UL-20 comes in regular and long sizes, priced at $599.95 and $619.95, respectively, on the Big Agnes site.

Ultimate active travel wear: Aventura Kineta Skort Capri

I love the comfort of skirts when I travel, but c’mon…when you’re riding a bike, hiking, walking, and I don’t know, perhaps zip-lining all in one day, a skirt just isn’t going to cut it. Enter Aventura Clothing’s new Kineta Skort Capri, the new love of my life.

aventura

Honestly, the second I saw this skort in the Aventura Clothing preview, I knew it would be perfect for travel. Apparently, everyone else knew this too, because it was almost immediately on backorder. But I got my hands on it, and tried it out through Costa Rica. Spoiler alert: I was right…the Kineta Skort Capri is all it promised to be.

This skort/capri hybrid is a 14″ active skirt, paired with 19.5″ capri spandex leggings, which are a one-piece unit. The skirt is meant for active travel days: it has cute side ruching that gives it a sporty look (and helps it move with your body), and two side pockets that are roomy enough to fit a phone or small camera. There’s a zippered security pocket at the back waist, and the whole poly/spandex blend ensemble is machine washable.

You can get the Kineta in the aforementioned capri combo, or get the skort version, which features a 16″ skirt paired with a 5″ spandex blend short. It’s $72 to the capri’s $79, so I wouldn’t make the decision based on price, but rather on personal style preference.  It’s worth noting that the skort version has smaller side pockets in the skirt, though it does still have the security pocket.

The capri version comes in two basic colors: ‘solid black’ (meaning the skirt color and the capri color are both black) or ‘black’ (black skirt and gray and black striped capri leggings). The skort version comes in ‘black’, which is actually a black skirt but gray and black striped shorts, or ‘gray’, which is a gray skirt and gray and red striped shorts. Hello, confusing!

The bottom line is, this is a skirt you can do anything in, and will look sporty doing it. The spandex blend means it won’t wrinkle in your suitcase, and you’ll probably get a lot of wear out of this item at home, too. I have worn mine for springtime hikes locally, and plan to bring it along when we go to Iceland, where we’ll be doing lots of walking and climbing. Pick up either skort version at Aventura or on Amazon.

Miir Wide Mouth Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Bottle

Whether hot or cold, morning drinks like hot or coffee should be the perfect temperature, even if you are traveling or enjoying the outdoors. The Miir Wide Mouth Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Bottle is the perfect way to keep your drinks at the right temperature.

The lid seals on tight with a large handle for an easier grip (no risk of spilling that way and it can strap onto a backpack or briefcase handle with a cord), and I find that the wide mouth means it is more feasible to take smaller sips of hot liquids than with a smaller opening. Miir makes a wide range of these kinds of products, but the wide mouth bottles are especially popular and come in three sizes (16, 20, and 42 ounces) and colors (black, white, and blue). All but the largest of these bottles fits easily into a car’s cupholder.

These bottles have a medical grade stainless steel interior and exterior, which I really like. Sometimes a metal aftertaste can linger, which is avoided due to the material used. The Thermo 3D structure keeps cold drinks chilly for more than 24 hours at a time. Hot drinks can stay warm for as many as 12 hours. The design of the bottle’s lid actually deflects hot and cold back into the bottle to keep the desired interior temperature.

The powder-coated steel exterior does not sweat, and there is space inside the bottle for ice cubes if you wish.

Miir is a good corporate citizen too because it donates money (5% of revenue) to clean water projects with the sale of each bottle, which is the icing on the cake. You can even track the projects that Miir is supporting on its website to see the good that the sale of these bottles is doing for those in need. These bottles are available on the Miir website starting at $30 or on Amazon.

Cozy warmth with Stio Women’s Basis Power Dry Hoodie

Stio Basis Power Dry Hoodie

It may be spring, but that doesn’t mean the weather immediately changes to sunny skies with no precipitation. And when you’re wearing your garden-variety cotton hoodie, it may keep you fairly warm, but if you get caught outside during a rain shower, it’ll take forever to dry.

That’s why you may consider upping your game with some higher-performance fabrics that’ll work with you and not against you. Instead of packing your cotton hoodie, leave room in your bag for the Stio Women’s Basis Power Dry Hoodie.

First, the tech. The hoodie is made with Polartec’s Power Dry fabric, a bi-component knit of 74.5 percent polyester and 24.5 percent wool, utilizing the best of both materials. The wool is placed on the face of the fabric, to dry quickly and maintain warmth. The polyester is placed next to the skin, to move moisture away from your body.

The Basis Power Dry Hoodie has a trim fit, for a contemporary, more fashionable look. That means if you’re planning to layer a lot underneath it, you might consider ordering a size up.

One of the things I like best about the hoodie is that it hangs a little bit lower in the back (but isn’t long), so I don’t have to worry about it riding up when I’m reaching for things, like putting my bag in the overhead bin on a plane. Another thing I like are the cuffs, which feature a different style of thumb hole, making it easy to keep the cuffs low on your hands if you need a little extra warmth.

The adjustable hood is well-shaped, and doesn’t get in the way when you need to see what’s around you. Hand pockets provide enough room for your hands and the occasional small item, like phone, keys, or money.

The hoodie was one of my campsite items in Ladakh’s Husing Valley, when I needed to stay comfortable as well as warm in the Himalayas.

The Stio Women’s Basis Power Dry Hoodie comes in magnet (charcoal) and black iris (a deep, purple-blue) and lists for $107.40 on the Stio site.