Gear Review: climbOn! Lotion Bar

Although I’m not a climber (yet!), I bought a climbOn! bar last fall when I had dry hands that just wouldn’t heal. I’d tried all sorts of lotions but they just weren’t getting better. Finally, I broke down and ordered climbOn! because I had a sneaking suspension that chemicals and additives weren’t helping my situation. ClimbOn!’s philosophy is “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin” which totally works for me.

CO_Minibar-Bar_Green_Orange_150DPI_1

The climbOn! bar comes in a small metal tin. The bar comes out, you roll it around on your hands a bit working the beeswax and oils on to your skin and then you put the bar away and work the oils into your hands some more. I was afraid that it would feel a little waxy on my hands but I found that it is absorbed pretty quickly and didn’t bother me at all. After months of battling dry, cracked hands, within just a week or so, my hands were back to being nice and smooth!

At about $10 a bar, climbOn! might seem a bit expensive but I’ve found that it lasts a long time and is totally worth the price. I’ve also heard amazing things about their lip tubes and sunscreen. ClimbOn! is available at many outdoor retails and climbing gyms. You can also order directly from SKINourishment.

Gear Review: Stonewear Designs, Fall 2013

As a Stonewear Ambassador, I received a whole lot of clothing from their Fall 2013 catalog that I’ve been wearing for the last few months. With my wardrobe being constrained by the camper, the clothing has been in fairly heavy rotation and has gotten a fair amount of testing!

Stonewear Designs makes all of their products in America and really strive to make wearable products for real women. Here’s some of my thoughts:

Favorites:

  • Cross Back Top: This bra fits SO WELL. It’s so comfy and is my go-to bra for everything It offers good front coverage and has an adorable (and comfortable cross back). I’m small busted so it offers plenty of support for any activity I throw at it.
  • Dash Performance Pant: The Dash pants are so cozy. I’m 5’10” and I should have bought the long length but I’m still rocking the regulars anyway because they’re awesome: they fit nicely through the hips and the amount of stretch is just right. I haven’t experienced any gaping at the waist either. The fleecy inside means they’re warm though so I don’t get a chance to wear them too often!
  • Cascade Skirt: Although the skirt is a touch long for my taste (floats right around my knees), I forgive it because it is so soft. Seriously, the jersey material is just like silky butter! The soft waist is really comfortable making this a dream to wear.

Family photo with camper

  • Alpha Hoodie: I reviewed the Alpha over on the Live Stonewear blog this fall. I was wearing the lovely “Blue Shadow” one all the time and was totally pumped to get one in “Berry Milkshake” with “Team Stonewear” on the sleeve. These days I often use one for working out/running and the other for wearing around to compensate for my lack of laundry access. The biggest downside of the Alpha is that it has started show some piling where backpack straps rub (waist strap, sternum strap). It seems to fare well against the prickly sticks of the desert though so it’s one of my favorite layers for hiking. The small fits me just right with plenty of length through the torso.

Beth & Sprocket

  • Sprinter Capri: I actually don’t have too much to say about the Sprinter aside from the fact that once I put them on I hardly know I’m wearing them. The very first hike I wore these on involved plenty of brush and plenty of scrambling around rocks boosting a dog and I was sure that I’d do them in since the material feels pretty light…I didn’t. The thread on the seams is showing a little wear but these have been in heavy rotation over the last six months. As it turns out, I didn’t have a photo of me wearing them but I just so happen to be rocking them now so I took a photo:

Beth on Gila Gravity Canal

  • Nimble Knicker: I’m not totally sold on the look of the Nimble Knicker but they’re sooo comfy that I just don’t care. The fabric is really soft, the waist is perfectly fitted, and they’re just right. It turns out that in the right weather they’re even pretty good for running as I discovered in the sand dunes.
Alpha Hoodie & Nimble Knicker
Alpha Hoodie & Nimble Knicker

So-So:

  • Olympia Tank: I’m just not crazy about the Olympia’s fit on me. I’ve had several friends and family members tell me I’m nuts for not liking it. (Although I’ve gotten some to admit that perhaps it just wasn’t designed for my body type, aka flat chested, skinny, broad shoulders. I know that some of the other Ambassadors love this tank so take my fit advice with a grain of salt. It’s a little large for me through the chest and the neckline sort of emphasizes my wide shoulders. It’s also done some serious fading and a little piling in not that many washes.
  • Helix Jacket: I love the coloring on the Helix: the heathered pattern means that you can’t really tell if it’s dirty or not. (And living with the big black love bug named Sprocket means mine’s usually dirty…) From the front I love how it looks on me. The back has a really cute flare that would emphasize someone’s cute butt. Since I’m lacking in that department, it looks just a little…odd. My only other complaint about the Helix is that the pockets are really shallow: phones like to jump out of them.

Beth in snow

  •  Solace Top: I wasn’t crazy about the ladder back of the tank at first but it’s really grown on me. The Solace is really comfortable and has a really flattering fit: it’s not too fitted but not too loose either. The shelf bra provides me with enough support for running (this probably wouldn’t be the case for many ladies).

Running on Sand

  • Hot Yoga Short: Admittedly, I’ve only worn the Hot Yoga short for yoga … once. They make it into hanging out at camp rotation more often! They moved really well and were super comfortable. My only complaint is how high they sat up on the waist—almost like “mom jeans.”

Didn’t like:

  • Momentum Tank: This tank is just way too short on me. The back twist is cute but I just can’t get into the whole 90’s short tank-top look. Maybe they’ll make a long version!

On The Page: Called Again

Called Again

Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph details Jennifer Pharr Davis’s journey to become the fastest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Reeling from a breakup, Davis looks to speed hiking to help salve her soul. Immediately, she set her sights on the AT as her goal. A friend convinced her to start with Vermont’s Long Trail where she started her journey. After her Long Trail hike, she started her own hiking company because she was “convinced that the trail was the best and cheapest therapy” possible.

Her first AT speed attempt, aided by her husband Brew, landed her the women’s supported speed record. Several years later, she was back on the trail attempting to set the overall AT record.

In just over 46 days of intense effort on her part with help from Brew and a cast of supportive friends, friends of friends, and more, Davis battles shin splints, weather, exhaustion and more in achieving her goal.

If you enjoyed Wild, read this to get a glimpse of an outdoors woman learning how much she can accomplish. If you hated Wild, you’ll probably like Called Again. As a lover of most thru-hiker accounts, especially ones where an experienced hiker has a unique experience, I devoured this book in the space of a couple of hours.

On The Page: River Notes

On the plane up to Salt Lake City for the #omnigames I read Wade Davis’ River Notes: A Natural and Human History of the Colorado River. The timing was great: out the window I looked out to an awesome view of the Grand Canyon. As it turns out, we spend quite a bit of time playing in Colorado River basin states plus after reading The Emerald Mile, I realized there was lots to learn about this massive and unique river.

River Notes

Although River Notes had its share of interesting river tidbits, it was shorter and a lot less comprehensive than I’d hoped for. Davis’ intention seemed to be a plea for better river system policy (a worthy goal!) than documenting the natural and human history of the river.

The Mississippi River is known as “Big Muddy” however historically the Colorado moved a huge amount of sediment to the sea: “The average daily sediment load was five hundred thousand tons, enough to fill a hundred freight trains, each with a hundred cars, with each car bearing a load of two hundred thousand pounds.” Before the construction of the dams, “One hundred seventy million cubic cards of sand and silt” were moved down river—more than “three times the amount of dirt excavated to create the Panama Canal.” The Colorado is not the longest North American river nor does it move the most water but in four hundred miles it drops “some 2,500 feet in elevation, a rate of descent twenty-five times that of the Mississippi.”

I’d read a little bit about the formation of the modern Salton Sea in The Emerald Mile but enjoyed reading more about how in 1905 the flooded Colorado defied the man made structures separating it into its natural channel and the California Development Company’s Alamo Canal. For sixteen months the river flowed into the below sea level depression (an ancient path of the river itself).

As mentioned previously, most of River Notes is a plea to save the Colorado River. Davis discusses the appalling water policy surrounding cattle ranching and meat production (“in California, Arizona, and Nevada, roughly 85 percent of the water allotment goes to agriculture, with roughly half the irrigated land devoted to the raising of meat”). He does note a minor success story in the (very) partial restoration of the Colorado River Delta. “What began in the 1970s as a small island of fertility, fed in part by natural springs, runoff, and storm surges from the sea, has grown a hundredfold to become a lush wetland covering more than forty thousand acres. Land that had been sterile for a half century took but eight years to regenerate.”

On The Page: MotoRaid

MotoRaid

After reading Obsessions Die Hard, I read MotoRaid by Keith Thye. MotoRaid recounts the story of Thye’s adventure riding from Oregon to Chile in the 1960s with his friend Dave. Thye’s writing style is pretty minimalistic (which might be related to the book being published quite after the adventure) but the story of two young men heading out to South America is quite entertaining.

Along their route, the Keith and Dave face bad roads, food poisoning, and rainstorms. They make friends with local residents and visited sites like Machu Pichu. They took a “road” leading from La Paz, Bolivia hoping to end up in Chile but ended up re-entering Peru illegally. They finished their southbound journey in Pucón, Chile where the residents threw a raucous party in their honor.

I was honestly a bit surprised at how hard MotoRaid was to put down. I think it only took me two sittings to finish it. If you’re interested in adventure travel stories (motorized or not!) check this out for a good read.