Category Archives: Gear and Product Reviews

A Mother’s Day Wishlist… of the material kind

Starting very soon (as in any day now) I’ll join the league of females with their own special day to be appreciated each year:  Mothers.

Growing up, we celebrated Mother’s Day (and in August, my mother’s birthday) with a trip to the desert for some exploring of new roads and mountain tops, but with one slight change.  Mom got to pick where we were going all day long.  At every fork in the road we yielded to her whims.  I don’t know if it is how she wanted to be appreciated, but to us kids it seemed like a pretty big deal.  It seemed like a huge responsibility too… what if she chose wrong?  What if the adventure of a lifetime lay down the right fork, and she chose left?  I wondered if she might have appreciated a new sun hat more than the weight of Fate resting on her decisions.

Looking back I realize we never once regretted my mother’s choices–never once did we go home thinking “Man, that’s the last time we let her decide which way to go!”  And I also recall her enthusiasm about what we saw after each decision (“oooooh, look!  A Short-eared Owl is hiding in that Juniper!”,  “My goodness!  Have you ever seen such a view?” , “Those clouds remind me of a Maxwell Parish painting!”).  Adventure is in the eye of the beholder, and mom showed us how to recognize it, no matter which path you took. (more…)

Is the Chariot Cougar worth the investment?

Claire sent me the following question (via ask outsidemom). I have a lot of thoughts on this, but would also love to hear from other Chariot owners who could offer some insight on her questions.

I’m thinking about buying a Chariot, primarily because I’d love to ski this winter and I’d like to be able to get some cycling in once my son is big enough. I’d love to hear some detailed reviews, tips, experiences from other women who use a Chariot too. I’d love to hear what skiing is like with it – hills, response to snow conditions, reaction of kiddos… And what using a bike trailer is like too – can you hear your kiddo, how does it handle with a road bike, tips for keeping kiddo safe and happy.


A few weeks ago I had a Chaco shoe giveaway on my blog and asked people to enter by telling me: “What is the one outdoor baby/child item you wouldn’t want to live without.” The item that claimed the first prize? The Chariot.

First of all I just have to say that we own the Cougar 2, and own the bike trailer kit, the jogging kit, the infant sling, baby supporter and we made our own skis. We currently have 3 kids ages 6, 3, and 7 months. Here are my thoughts on the Chariot: (more…)

Review and GIVEAWAY of kids Chacos

Giveaway is closed, thanks to all who entered. Congratulations to the winner MAURA LANSFORD!

My son has two pairs of Chacos now. The Zanda and the Z/1 EcoTread. I reviewed the Z/1 this summer, and after running around the desert and sloshing through slot canyons I’ve deemed the Z/1 the greatest kid shoe ever. And why shouldn’t they be? Chaco sandalas are the greatest adult shoe ever too, in my opinion.

This time around Chaco has provided me with a pair of Zandas to review, which have been my sons primary footwear since summer (pictured below assisting him on a rope swing).

A few words I would use to describe this shoe: (more…)

Patagonia shoe GIVEAWAY!

Giveaway is closed!

I’m a sucker for all things Patagonia. If I had to choose one clothing brand to be stranded on a desert island with, I’d probably choose Patagonia.

But we’re not talking about their clothes today. We’re talking about Patagonias shoes. I’ve never tried any of their shoes, but they sure have some good looking styles.  And if they’re as awesome as their clothes?  Well… I would willingly be stranded on a desert island with those too.

So, in celebration of Patagonia Advocate Weeks, we’re going to give a pair of shoes away!

What is Patagonia Advocates Week?

It’s an event that starts today. For every pair of Patagonia shoes purchased at from 10/9-10/22, Patagonia will donate $10 to the Conservation Alliance.

What is the Conservation Alliance? 

Their mission is “to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values.” They direct their funding to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat, preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate.

How can you win some shoes? 

Leave a comment telling us What is your favorite fall outdoor activity?

Winner get’s to choose a pair of Patagonia shoes from Choose from their women’s, men’s or boot collections.

..and I will be completely jealous of the winner.

Good luck! (more…)

Review: The ERGO Performance Carrier for hiking

It’s no secret how much I love my Ergobaby carrier. In fact the post BJORN vs Ergo remains one of our most popular. So when Ergobaby gave me the chance to review their new Performance Carrier along with some assorted ‘accessories’, I was much obliged.

In general the Ergo baby carrier is great for every day wear, walking around the block, cruising around a farmer’s market, or the county fair. But how does it perform once you leave the pavement and start to gain elevation?

Here’s why the Ergo design (any of their carriers, old or new) works great for hiking: (more…)

A lighter weight Chaco! A review of the new Updraft.

There are two kinds of people in this world:  the toe-loopers and the non-toe-loopers.  Those who enjoy (and apparently even become addicted too) the security of a piece of webbing between their big toe and, and those who can’t stand to be violated in such a manner.  Lindsey is a toe-looper.  I am not.  Somehow we are still friends.

Recently, Chaco sent Lindsey a pair of snazzy new Updraft sandals, rigged with vibrant red webbing.  They were a sight to behold.  They also were missing the ever-loved toe loop. Lindsey’s feet couldn’t adjust. She’s more of an Updraft 2 kind of girl. Lucky me.

I’ve been wearing them for two months now–hiking in the Sierras, tubing the Rio Grande, shopping for souvenirs at the Spanish market.  I even danced in them at a Hank III concert, where my husband had to spend most of the evening protecting me and my poor feet from a horrific and spontaneous occurrence that apparently happens at rowdy concerts:  a mosh pit.

I love these sandals.  I love that they felt good on my feet the moment I slipped them on.  I love how adjustable they are.  I love that I can slip them on and be stylishly ready to go at a moment’s notice (yes, I am one of those people who thinks their Chacos go with every outfit).  I love that I don’t have to tighten the straps for them to stay on my feet.  I love that they have such solid arch support and the cushion-y feel.  I have already hiked several miles in a day in these things without ever regretting my choice of foot wear.  And I love that they aren’t shoes. (more…)

If you give a kid some Chacos: A review of the Z1 Ecotread

The folks at Chaco were nice enough to hook up a few of my favorite outdoor kids with a pair of Chacos last spring. After putting their shoes to work all summer these kids are ready to talk about how THEY view their new footwear.

We asked Ari (age 5), Adan (age 4), Cohen (age 5), Jackson (age 7) and Tobin (age 7) what they thought of their Z1 Ecotreads.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve worn your Chacos?

Adan: Sea world, Papa & Nonnies [Grandparents], rocky mt natl park, and soon the first day of school.
Jackson: Lake Tahoe
Cohen: The beach
Tobin: Cape Cod
Ari: To my friend Evas house and to Bone Canyon to find dinosaurs bones [aka sticks].

What’s your favorite thing to do in your Chacos?

Adan: Go on hikes and run really, really fast in them.
Jackson: Swim out to the big rock [at Tahoe] in them.
Cohen: Riding my bike and going to the beach
Tobin: Walk
Ari: Hike and splash in the water.

What do you like most about your Chacos?

Adan: I can get them wet & muddy
Jackson: The adjustable straps
Cohen: I like them because they make it so I don’t have to wear shoes.
Tobin: Green thingie – [he means the pattern of the webbing]
Ari: They help me climb up steep hills.

Is there anything you don’t like about your Chacos?

Adan: If I wear them for days and days the straps rub a sore spot.
Jackson: No
Cohen: This is what I don’t like about them. I don’t like it when the sand gets in them
Tobin: Mostly that they gave me a blister.
Ari: They sometimes don’t get enough sticky on the bottom of them and I slip down steep hills.

If you could pick one superhero (or the equivalent) to give a pair of Chacos to who would you pick and why?

Adan: He-man, cause his boots look to hot. [Of course Adan’s parents think its because He-Man’s going for the minimalist look]
Jackson: Thor, because he could use a new pair of sandals.
Cohen: The incredible hulk because they would make him kick stronger.
Tobin: Green Lantern because he’s green.
Ari: Spiderman, because he could put web slingers on his Chacos. (more…)

A walk to remember: Reviewing Hi-Tec Harmony WP Boots

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When I was maybe fourteen or fifteen, I fell in love with my hiking shoes.  It likely wasn’t the first pair I’d ever owned, but it’s the first pair I remember.  We bonded, those boots and I.  I thought of them as a buddy.  An integral part of my naturalist being.  They made me hike faster, climb better, and gave me greater stealth.  And when I finally retired them after years of scrambling, running, sneaking, and exploring, I saved them.  Placing them reverently in the shoe box in which my new hiking boots arrived.  Just in case.  They’re still in my mom’s basement somewhere.

They were Hi-Tecs.  Blue and grey, mid-ankle high, with easy-to-tie laces.

So when asked Lindsey if she or I wanted to review a pair of Hi-Tecs, I was only too eager to remake the bond I’d had with that first pair.  I went with the mid-ankle Hi-Tec Harmony (WP) boots.

They arrived in the mail three weeks ago, and I have been aggressively putting them through their paces.  Obviously, there was no way I could take pictures of my feet, so, alas, I had to travel to Reno and see Lindsey.  So that she could take pictures of the shoes, of course.  No other reason.

On the plus side: (more…)

Road ID Bracelet: Hope it never comes in handy

My husband commutes 16 miles a day by bicycle. Come rain, snow, sleet, hail or most often in Reno, wind, he’s out there pedaling. Most of those miles are busy non-bicycle friendly roads. When we moved here we invested in brightly colored clothes, safety lights, and a life insurance policy.

Most recently Joe added another item to his safety repertoire. A Road ID Bracelet. It’s a bracelet that shows his name, along with phone #’s of people to contact incase of an emergency (and medical info if necessary).  If he’s unconscious along the side of the road I’ll be the second to know about it (after 911 hopefully).

I’m mentioning this because the bracelet is actually really cool, and could make a good (albeit slightly morbid) Fathers Day gift. It’s not only applicable to bikers, but runners or hikers as well. Joe’s also been doing some backcountry trail running. Alone. Sometimes at night. He doesn’t carry his ID when he runs.

Joe tells me the one he has is really quite comfy. I think it’s pretty hip. Just hope it never really comes in handy.

Chaco: A love story that began in 2001…

Going for a new tan line. My first pair of chacos over my Teva tan. Circa May 2001.

I like to think the story of how I became a Chaco Ambassador dates back to just past the turn of the century. The year was 2001. Y2K had proved a fluke–my computer still worked as it should.  The stock market hadn’t crashed.  Aliens hadn’t landed.  And I was more than a little disappointed. It was also my last semester of College.  My future, empty, and vast as a future without Y2K catastrophes, awaited.

I was planning a move to a little desert town in south-central Utah by the name of Escalante. I had landed a job on a research crew studying the native bee population in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I knew the job involved a lot of hiking, backpacking, and observing in extremely hot weather, in a country replete with sand.  So I  purchased a brand new pair of Tevas (my sandal of choice since the late 80’s) to celebrate the occasion.

I packed up my ’85 Corolla with all my belongs.  My hope chest, a 20-gallon blue cooler, sat in the back, nestled between my trusty sleeping bag, a bag of clothes, and a water jug. I set my sparklingly clean new shoes on top of the car, under the kayak mounted on my homemade 2X4 roof rack. I ran into the house to bid adieu to my roommates. And I hit the road!

Somewhere around mile 14 something else hit the road. I saw a foreign object fly off the roof of my car and land smack dab in the middle of the highway. (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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