Gear Review: Mountain Hardware Chockstone Alpine Pant

Last fall when I headed to the Sangre de Cristos to climb Mt. Blanca and Little Bear via the traverse I realized that I should probably find something a little heavier duty than my usual leggings or shorts to wear. I ordered a pair of Mountain Hardware’s Chockstone Alpine pants ($125).* Even before I had them in my hot little hands, I was excited because they came in lengths! Most women’s outdoor pants are only one length while the men’s version will come in short-regular-long.

Once they arrived, the next thing I noticed was that they fit and that they weren’t ugly. While I know that the look of a pair of outdoor pants shouldn’t be a huge factor but it’s really nice to not feel like you’re wearing a burlap sack, you know? The pants are roomy enough to comfortably wear a baselayer underneath and not feel at all restricted but yet they do have some curves so you still look like a woman. I do live in Western Colorado and clothing choices that would not fly elsewhere work here but I’ve never thought twice about going out to dinner wearing them.

Photo Kami, Follow The Bear Tracks
Photo: Kami, Follow The Bear Tracks[/caption]

More importantly, they’re functional. I think the highest praise I can give them is that when I’m wearing the Chockstone pant, I don’t think about them. They move with me which is most important. I’ve never been a “hiking pant” fan preferring instead to hike in shorts or leggings but I really needed to add this option (and level of protection) to my wardrobe. Although it isn’t advertised, they seem to be somewhat water resistant, at least in dry Colorado and Utah snow conditions. The softshell material seems to breath well in high activity situations which is fantastic. Furthermore, the stout fabric isn’t just great for rocky situations but for bushwacking.

I’ll probably purchase another pair of these (when my size comes back on the Mountain Hardware website; I hope, hope, hope these aren’t being discontinued but instead just waiting for new colors or such for spring?!) soon since I often find myself wearing these Friday-Saturday-Sunday on adventures.

While the pants might be overkill for many casual hikers, if you enjoy active snowsports (cross country skiing, snowshoeing) or more than a few times a year find yourself scrambling around on rocky slopes or pushing your way through scrub oak (aka Rocky Mountain Shoulder Season Shit) these might be worth the price to you, they certainly have been to me.

*Note: These are not the “Chockstone Midweight Pant.” I haven’t tried these but I believe they’re lighter weight than the Alpine.

Stonewear Designs Velocity Top

I just found this in my draft posts and even though I’m not a Stonewear ambassador anymore, this top is great and they still sell it so I’m sharing it with you now. Better late than never! Here’s a sweet t-shirt that is great for hiking, running, and more:

Stonewear Designs Velocity Top is the only t-shirt currently in my running rotation. I usually swear by a tank top and a long sleeve layer if necessary but the Velocity is so lightweight it won me over.

The same cap sleeves that I was so skeptical about I found to be super comfortable while running. I’ve worn this shirt throughout the spring for running and decided that it had been tested enough to be my choice for running the Rainier To Ruston relay last spring (I ran 13+ miles as part of a 4-person team). The Velocity is lightweight and moves excellently with me. As a testament to how much I enjoy wearing it, the top can almost always be found in the dirty clothes and has been dug out of the hamper a time or two to be worn on a run…

It also works really well for hiking—it lays nicely under a backpack and is long enough that the hip belt on my pack goes over it rather than the shirt riding up to my waist.

The moisture wicking fabric does a really good job of keeping me comfortable during a run or a hike although like many synthetic fabrics it tends to hold odor.

I was skeptical about the grey contrasting sleeve but I love the look. My top is Rhubarb but I really like the look of all the colors. The neckline is also really flattering with a deeper scoop neck than you usually find in athletic wear. Many of my non-Stonewear sports bras show under the Velocity although the Crossback Top works perfectly (which is fine with me as I love the Crossback, review here) but sadly, it isn’t available from Stonewear anymore (check online to see if you can find it on closeout and buy three, seriously).

I used to be a Stonewear Designs Ambassador and received this shirt and other items from Stonewear as a member of the program, however all opinions are my own.

Gear Review: Columbia Back Beauty Capris

I have a ton of awesome summer clothing that needs to be shared! Unfortunately, my philosophy is that I want to put in some serious time with a piece of clothing or gear so sometimes it’s almost out of season (or worse, out of stock!) before I feel like I can offer a real opinion on things. As spring arrives in most of the country, I’m working through some warm season gear I tried out last year that is still available. Hope you enjoy!

Columbia’s Back Beauty Capris have become a staple in my outdoor wardrobe because they just fit. The Back Beauty comes not only in capri length, but in a long (knee length) short, a boot cut pant, a skinny pant, and a straight leg pant (which is on sale so it might not last long!). I’m thinking by the end of summer I’ll have added one of the pants to my closet so I can keep wearing them into fall!

The absolute best thing about these capris is the waist. They just fit. With a mid-rise and a really flattering cut they don’t dig into my waist, show my butt crack, or ride up where they don’t need to be (you know what I mean…).

The material is thicker than most tight, legging like pants and so far seems pretty robust. I think mine might have a snag or two in them but I’ve also worn them in some pretty atrocious cat’s claw and scrub oak (and my lower legs have gotten the scratches to match). They’re Omni-Shield which means that they’re water and stain repellent; this is awesome since I constantly am spilling things on myself… As I mentioned, I wear these all the time and they’re not stained! (Although my grey ones have a little bit of caulk on them because I didn’t think to change before starting a little #damselNOTindistress project…)

I’ve worn them hiking, traveling, eating, relaxing, and even to a serious set-up wedding day/wedding rehearsal:

Now that I’m looking at photos of myself in them, I also really like the length. They’re short enough on my long legs that they don’t just look like really long shorts!

If you’re looking for a comfortable pant or capri to adventure in this summer, check out the Back Beauty line. I think it’s a real winner.

These capris were provided to 3Up Adventures for review and use by Columbia Sportswear. All opinions, however are my own.

Gear Review: Columbia Endless Trail Short

Last year, when I was getting ready to go to Jordan with Columbia Sportswear’s #omniten, there were two pairs of Endless Trail shorts in my travel wardrobe. Aside from a couple minor issues, they’ve become an absolute staple in my wardrobe and I was really excited to receive another pair in red hibiscus this spring.

The absolute best thing about these shorts is the material. They dry SO QUICKLY. I’ve always been a little bit jealous of guys swim trunks because they’re dry in minutes while girls walk around with wet butts and chests under our shorts and t-shirts because swimming suits take forever to dry. When we were in Jordan, we spent a decent amount of time in the water and I fell in love with not staying soaked forever.

I think Caleb even enjoyed them a bit during our Red Sea cruise.  😉

Photo courtesy Seth Yates

They do tend to ride up a bit when I’m being really active. They’re fine for most hikes but I don’t tend to wear them running since they want to end up around my waist and up in places they don’t belong… I also think a slightly higher side slit would be nice for hiking when stepping over logs or scrambling is involved. It would allow for a little more more maneuverability. That being said, I wore them on some fantastic hikes in Jordan and had no real issues so it’s just a wish list sort of thing. (Columbia did just come out with these running style shorts that I’m super anxious to try.)

Photo Courtesy Justin Lukasavige
Photo Courtesy Justin Lukasavige[/caption]

They’re also a great length–I like my shorts to be short enough to show off my legs (sorry not sorry) and these are perfect. Sometimes I wear the waistband rolled over sorority girl style and sometimes I don’t. They look great both ways.

As far as an active pair of shorts goes, you won’t go long in the summer without seeing me in these!

These shorts were provided to me for use and review as part of Columbia’s #omniten program. All opinions are my own!

Gear Review: Heather Hills Dress

So “gear review” might be stretching it a little here but I’m just going to go with it…

When I started teaching in September I quickly realized that I did not have enough clothing that was even close to teacher appropriate, especially as fall began to draw near. Layers over yoga and running tanks was only going to take me so far! (Same went for my collection of shorts and running pants.)

I was having way too much fun hiking and enjoying September in the San Juans to want to spend my time driving to Grand Junction or Durango to spend hours in a Ross or TJ Maxx attempting to find anything I liked. So instead, I turned to the Internet and Columbia.

I found two dresses that I thought would work well for school, the Wear It Everywhere dress (no longer available online, although it was too short anyway) and the Heather Hills dress.

Where it Everywhere:

Heather Hills dress ($60):

I love this dress so much that I’m thinking about ordering it in another color. It’s super comfy. I wish that it came in an XXS (mine is an XS) since it is still a little bit baggier than I’d like through the chest and waist but it’s probably perfect for school. (It also seems to have shrunk a bit with washing and fits awesome now.) The Hyper Purple is a super fun color (my next one will probably be the also adorable Deep Blush). I’ve been complemented by several of my very cool dressing upperclass students so I’m calling it a total win. (I mean, there was one time one of my sophomores called it a “sweatshirt dress” but I don’t think they know enough about the 80s for that to have been an insult).

These dresses were purchased by me through Columbia’s #omniten ambassador program however all opinions are my own.

New Job, New Clothes

When you’ve spent the last few year wandering the country hiking, exploring, and living out of a vehicle having professional (or even professional-like) clothing isn’t a huge priority. It becomes even less of a priority when you work with companies like Stonewear Designs and Columbia Sportswear—I always felt cute and well dressed for what I was up to. Or I did, at least until I accepted the teaching job in Ridgway.

For the first time since I worked for the health department in Missoula (way back in summer of 2010!), I looked in my closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear for work today.” I’ve been able to adapt a handful of pieces to wearing to school by adding a cardigan or layering a cami underneath but I have a long ways to go to have a truly professional teaching wardrobe so I’m going to need to budget a bit each month to buy non-hiking/workout clothes!

If you’ve met me, or even if you’ve followed me on Twitter and the blog for awhile, you probably know that I’m a lot more apt to spend money on gas or on new gear than new clothes. And trust me, no one was more shocked than me to know that I spent $150 on new clothes today. The only question remains, how long until my students realize that most of my clothes are from Columbia?

Gear Review: Stonewear Designs Kaia Halter & Lyra Top

I’ve been wearing some awesome clothing this spring in my role as Stonewear Designs Ambassador! I’m really exited to share with you two more pieces from a company comitted to making a high quality, lasting product here in the States! These two support tops, the Kaia and the Lyra, from Stonewear Designs are a great complement to the outdoor woman’s wardrobe. Both are totally functional as yoga or running tops but yet fashionable enough to wear around town.

The  Kaia halter top is a good length and the back slit is designed to allow the tank to lay flat over a variety of hip widths (the slit is also a really cute feature). The tendency to ride up can be a real issues with tops like this but I haven’t had any issues thanks to the smart design. Stonewear recently added 2″ to the length of the Lyra top. I didn’t try it before but I can say that the new version is also a tug-free option!

The back straps to the Lyra are really cute and make wearing the top super comfortable. They’re integrated into the body of the tank so they distribute pull rather than laying it all on the shoulders. The Kaia’s halter strap is also super comfortable, as a good halter should be, most of the support is provided by the internal bra cups and shelf bra rather than tugging at the back of the neck. Both tops have internal bra cups (although I’ve removed mine as personal preference). The tops are just low cut enough to be a bit sexy and feminine without being too much. The Lyra Top and the Kaia Halter each retail for $56.

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:


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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


  • 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.

  •  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).

  • 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.” Ed. note, 2018: I’m obsessed with these shorts.

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!

Gear Value: Columbia Titanium Fleece

I was folding clothes the other day and commented to F that his orange fleece is starting to look a little threadbare. “No way! I paid $70 for that fleece, it can’t be worn out!”

Orange fleece

We started trying to place when exactly he purchased this Columbia Titanium fleece and I wasn’t much help because I know it was over five years ago, before I met him. On top of being more than five years old, he has worn it EVERYWHERE.

The fleece is still going strong but we decided that this fleece (and its maker Columbia Sportswear) deserves to be honored on the blog.

Summiting Mt. Washington (Oregon), July 2009:

F at Mt. Washington

Chinatown, San Francisco, August 2009:

F Chinatown menu

Hiking in Olympic National Park, October 2009:

F, Olympic National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, April 2010:

F, Carlsbad Caverns

F and Sprocket

Camping along the Pecos River, Texas; April 2010:


Mt. Michell, North Carolina; May 2010:

Mt. Mitchell, Highest point east of the Mississippi

Not only does he play in his fleece, but he fixes cars in it as well! Culpeper, Virginia; May 2010:

Jeep Repairs

Snow Falls, Maine; May 2010:

Snow Falls (Near West Paris, Maine)

Fixing a Model A; May 2010:

F Model A

Moving in to our house in Missoula, July 2010:

F and Sprocket

Hiking in Moab, March 2011:

F and Sprocket

F and Ezra

Home Repairs; July 2010:


Yellowstone, September 2011:

Old Faithful Lodge

Spokane; September 2012:

F and Sprocket

Day-before-the-wedding; September 2012:


Hiking in the La Sals; September 2012:

La Sals, F and Sprocket

Fixing the Sprinter window, North Fork Salmon River; September 2012:

Fixing the Sprinter window

F and Sprocket

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; December 2012:

Enjoying the steam vents

I’ve even worn it a time or two: Lava Tree State Monument, Hawaii; December 2012:


Childs Mountain, Arizona; February 2013:

F on Childs Mountain

Near Ajo, Arizona:

Arizona desert

I think that fleece has been worth every penny, don’t you?

What gear have you really gotten your money’s worth out of?

Stonewear Designs Liberty Skort

Right before we left Idaho, I was lucky enough to win a Liberty Skort from Stonewear Designs. I had horrific memories of skorts from being a kid (remember when they looked like shorts from the back and only looked like a skirt in the front?!) but I was excited to test it out. It turns out I love it!

The skort is really comfortable. The shorts inside tend to ride up a bit when you’re out being active but it really isn’t too bad. My favorite thing about the skort is being able to wear it on a hike and then to be able to head into town for dinner and still feel appropriately dressed. Stonewear also manufactures their clothing in the United States (my skort is made from non-American material but I’ll take what I can get!) It’s been a great addition to my van clothing assortment.