Gear Review: Columbia PFG Armadale Ankle Pant

This spring, I’d been looking for a way to bring some spring color to my wardrobe and decided to order a pair of Columbia Sportswear PFG Armadale ankle pants. I had a sneaking suspicion that the pants would be more like capris on my long legs than ankle pants (and they are) but I really like them!

These pants are made of a great nylon blend that Columbia calls “Summiteer Lite.” They’re Omni-Shield (water and stain repellent) and Omni-Shade (UV protection). Most importantly, they’re incredibly comfortable and look awesomely stylish.

I wore these to school several times and got compliments from teachers and students alike. They’re probably a bit too casual for many work places but they really do seem to dress up well! In addition to looking great, they’re very functional. Yesterday, my mom and I went kayaking and I was really easily able to get in and out of the kayak, move around easily in the boat, and they dried super quickly once I got out of the kayak. (And in the places that didn’t get soaked you can see how the water beaded up in the photo below!)

I currently have these in harbor blue and realllllly think I need to order them in navy and foxglove because they’re super awesome.

Also pictured by Columbia Sportswear: Lighten The Mood tunic in Sunnyside and Vulc N Vent Lace canvas shoe in Corange and Flint Grey. I am a member of Columbia’s #omniten program but all opinions are my own.

Vail GoPro Mountain Games

When Columbia Sportswear reached out to the #omniten several months ago to ask if we wanted to participate in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, I actually took a pass. It was going to fall closely on the heels of school getting out and I wasn’t really sure what my plans were. After Amanda headed on to Denver and the airport on a Thursday, Sprocket and I found ourselves in Breckenridge with no real plans until Monday in De Beque. As I saw Tweets from Dave and Aleya about how excited they were for the games and realized that Vail really just was on my route, I decided that Sprocket and I needed to go join the fun.

After another quick McDonald’s bathroom cleanup in West Vail, Sprocket and I started checking out the games. I occasionally tortured him with photo opportunities:

I’ve been to dog friendly events but this one really took the cake. Sprocket came everywhere with me. He met other dogs, which isn’t always his favorite as pictured here but is SO GOOD for him since most of the time it was people interaction (his favorite).

We checked out the rafting competition where SP was super sad that I wouldn’t let him swim. (Snowmelt season is a really hard time to be a lab in Colorado!) He made “friends” with this really cute photographer that I swear I wasn’t trying to take a photo of (no, really, I was trying for Sprocket and the water):

After the rafting competition, I met up with Dave and Shay. I’ve never met Shay in real life but we were both Stonewear Ambassadors at the same time and have been online friends for a couple of years. Dave and I were both #omniten Season 4 and have adventured in Park City and Jordan with Columbia plus he was part of the Ouray Ice Fest 3Up Party. Dave had signed up for the Citizen’s Bouldering Competition while Shay was his personal photographer (Check out Dave’s account of the games!). Sprocket and I were pretty much just along for the ride.

Photo: Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

After we all met up and did a bit of wandering, it was time for dinner. I doubt I’ll find myself in Vail all that often but the truffle oil tots and some super delicious margaritas at Bully Ranch did not disapoint. The restaurant (but mostly Dave and Shay) were super chill about us sitting outside in the rain so Sprocket could join. Then, because I’m an obnoxious dog mom, I kept Sprocket with us as we went to that evening’s concert. Sprocket was completely unconcerned about the commotion as long as he was safely in the circle between the three of us.

Finally, it was bedtime and Sprocket and I headed off to the parking garage to cuddle in the Jeep:

The next day, Sprocket and I were up early so we spent some time at Starbucks taking care of some blog stuff and catching up on Twitter before meeting up with Dave and Shay. We all headed to the climbing competition where we watched for awhile before hunting up breakfast.

Rain threatened but we were all having fun anyway:

A bit later, I met up with Aleya and Tori and we all rendezvoued with Dave and Shay for Happy Hour in the VIP area and then headed off for pizza. That evening, we all headed down to the concert again (I let Sprocket head to sleep that time since I’m not sure he actually liked the experience.) The next day, Sprocket got to live out his dock jumping fantasy:

He wasn’t really sure about that clear pool and didn’t quite live up to the showings he makes at lakes everywhere we go, but he certainly enjoyed himself. He even got so worked up waiting in line that he whined and barked with the best of the pros. Unfortunately, Dave and Shay were over at Dave’s climbing competition so I don’t have any photos of Sprocket and I in action but I really think he had a blast!

Hanging out with great friends is always fun and my #omniten friends are even more special. I can’t believe I almost passed up the chance to hang out and I’m so glad that I made it to hang out with this great crew:

Photo: Aleya Jean
Photo: Aleya Jean[/caption]

GoPro Mountain Games wristband aftermath:

VIP entry was provided to me as part of Columbia’s #omniten program but as always, my experiences and 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.

Gear Review: Columbia Peakfreak Hiking Shoes

Last January I bought a pair of Columbia’s Peakfreaks–I was in desperate need of new hiking shoes since my old running shoes were not doing a very good job of protecting my feet from the rocks found in desert hiking. I spent a ton of time browsing Columbia’s offerings and rejected most as either too lightweight or too heavy.

I spend a lot of time traveling off trail and therefore are always weighing the pros and cons of a lightweight trail running shoe with something a little more robust that protects my feet and ankles from rocks. I found that the Peakfreaks really fit the bill. The “welded synthetic overlays” took a little bit of abuse and are a little bit frayed but nothing has impacted the use of the shoe at all. I had a blog post all written up to tell you about how wonderful these lovely shoes were but then I went to Columbia’s webpage to get a link and they were gone.

I retired the post to the trashbin of the internet and pouted a bit. I should have stocked up!

A few months ago, however, the new version: the Peakfreak XCRSN XCEL showed up. I immediately set about procuring myself a pair. (And not just any pair but one in this AMAZING non-girly “corange/fission” combo.)

They arrived, I marveled at their beauty and then they sat in my closet waiting for me to quit it with the #damselNOTindistress nonsense and get back out in the mountains. Just like their predecessors, they’re amazing. First, I get complements on the good looking shoes all the time.

Second, and most important, they’re exactly what I was looking for: they’re comfortable, lightweight, and my feet do not take a beating when I’m scrambling around on talus or rocks. I haven’t made a direct comparison between the soles of the two versions but in my handful of hikes in the new ones (and many hikes in the old) I think the traction is improved a little bit.

I didn’t make the jump to the version with Outdry, mostly for the above mentioned awesome color reasons, which I might wind up regretting. Some of my fall hikes have had just short sections of snow where my feet stayed mostly dry but if I would have had the waterproofing power of Outdry I probably wouldn’t have gotten damp at all.

I have a foot just a touch on the wide side and these fit me great. I found that they run pretty true to size (I often have to size down a half size in Columbia footwear).

These will be my go-to hikers for all of 2015 (and yes, I’m thinking about buying more, including a pair with Outdry) and I totally recommend them for most, if not all, of your hiking needs.

These shoes were provided by Columbia Sportswear to 3Up Adventures as a part of the #omniten program for use and review. All opinions are mine. (Seriously, I do love these shoes.)

“I Am #OMNITEN” Online Premiere

The documentary of the #omniten adventures in Jordan is going to premiere via Google+ on Thursday, September 18th at 4pm Pacific! Our whole crew will be on hand on Google Hangout On Air to answer questions and just be ourselves.

Please join us on Thursday! I’m so excited to be able to share our #TryingStuffInJordan journey with you!

For more information, check out Columbia’s blog and then RSVP to join us on Google+!

#TryingStuffInJordan, Part 3

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my #TryingStuffInJordan adventure!

Day 7

After breakfast, we headed south from Petra and soon found ourselves in Wadi Rum loading into trucks for another 4×4 adventure. As we headed out into the desert, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the American Southwest. It all looked so familiar and so different all at the same time. After we looked at some awesome petroglyphs (seriously, they were petroglyphs with camels), we stopped at tent for some Bedouin tea. Before we sat down to tea, however, Mohammed told us that everything was harder in the desert and that we should run up a near by sand dune so that we’d understand. A handful of us lined up to run the dune. I certainly knew that running a dune wasn’t easy but I was going to give it a shot. Ow.

Photo Courtesy

We stopped for lunch and were given two options for the afternoon: we could either go on a scramble to a rock arch or ride to a longer arch with less of a climb. I opted to join the scrambling group. Our guide lead us swiftly up the mountain to a gorgeous rock arch. After our hike we drove to a camp in the middle of the desert. We spent the remainder of the evening scrambling to the tops of rocks for sunset and bidding Heather adieu. (She was headed off to Bali for a friends wedding!) We capped off the night with a delicious dinner and some dancing with the Bedouins around the campfire. Some of us went for a moonlight walk and then slept under the stars.

Day 8

First thing in the morning, we loaded our stuff back into the trucks. The #omniten, however, hopped on to camels for a ride back to breakfast and the bus. I must admit that riding a camel wasn’t the most comfortable experience but it was one that I would not pass up when in Wadi Rum.

From Wadi Rum, we drove to Aqaba where we immediately boarded a boat for some water fun on the Red Sea. After jumping off the boat some of us did some snorkeling over the reef. It was really nice to be out on the salt water enjoying the sunshine! After dinner, it was time to say goodbye to Seth’s beard. Mohammed, our guide, took us to a barbershop where Seth (plus a few others) got their hair trimmed.

Day 9

After breakfast, we started our day with a drive from Aqaba up to the Dead Sea. After glimpsing it earlier in the trip, we finally got a chance to stand at the lowest point on earth: -1,400′ below sea level! We floated in the sea and basked in the sunshine.

Photo courtesy Seth Yates
Photo @Calebfarro

Day 10

After having floated in the Dead Sea I was out of ideas on what there was to do in Jordan! As we should have expected, Columbia and the Jordan Tourism Board had one more awesome adventure cooked up for us: canyoneering in Wadi Muijb. Although the water was just a little bit chilly it was a blast to float the water, scramble up waterfalls, and enjoy the big waterfall at the end.

Photo courtesy Seth Yates
Photo courtesy Seth Yates

Day 11

After all the fun of the previous ten days, it was time to head back to the airport in Amman. The thirteen hour flight to Chicago seemed longer than the flight to Jordan, mainly because I didn’t sleep on the flight. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone in Chicago: my favorite part of both of my Columbia trips has been getting to adventure with so many awesome people. I miss you all!

Photo courtesy Caleb Farro

Thanks so much to Columbia Sportswear for another amazing #omniten opportunity. Thanks also to the Jordan Tourism Board for your hospitality!