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Category Archives: Gear and Product Reviews

Gift ideas for the outdoor baby girl!

In honor of my own baby shower a few weeks ago I’m posting 12 gift ideas for outdoor families welcoming little girls. Most of these  products (or a variation of them) I now own, others are still on my wish list. Never has pink and purple looked so good!

1. Smartwool Booties 2. Patagonia Apron Dress (or let’s be honest, anything from Patagonia would have been a hit in my book) 3. Nova Natural baby hammock 4. Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots 5. Down Bunting 6. Klean Kanteen 7. Merril Sky Jumper Shoes 8. Nalgene Grip’n Gulp 9. North Face Beanie 10. Patagonia Baby Sun Hat 11. Ergo Baby Carrier with Infant Insert 12. Kid’s Mountain Goat Adjustable (I actually got ‘baby girl’ this for Christmas, both my boys have one, we’re big fans)

Silence is golden, duct tape is silver

Question:

What do MacGyver, astronauts, and outsidemom.com writers have in common?

We all keep rolls of duct tape in our backpacks, our cars, our boats, our spaceships, and our homes.

Ah, the sticky stuff.  That super-adhesive, water-repellant, ultra-durable, handyman-staple:  Duct tape.  I love the sound it makes coming off the role.  The slightly synthetic smell.  But mostly I love the many ways it can be used.  Is there anything in the universe more versatile?  I imagine aliens in every galaxy find it as useful as we do…

Today, we celebrate duct tape and its many uses.  Here’s just a handful of the ways this substance can improve your life.  Did we miss one?  Tell us about it at the end!

Fix Something

1. You can use duct tape to patch darn near anything!

  • Backpacks, tents, shoes, hats, or any other leaky piece of equipment.  Duct tape sticks to itself as well as it sticks to anything else.  Put a piece on the inside of the hole, and another on the outside, and stick the pieces together through the hole!  Problem solved.
  • Also, ski pants.  I fall a lot on my skis.  I use duct tape at the hems to patch up the rips caused by my edges cutting into the sides of my ski pants every time I tumble.
  • Bathtub leaking?  My aunt’s tub has a crack in the floor.  She just taped it over with a strip o the sticky stuff.  That tube probably has another ten years of good use now. (more…)

Facing my fears: clipless vs toe clips

I’m pretty sure I’m the only mountain biker I’ve seen in years who still uses baskets (otherwise known as toe clips).  You’d think that this observation alone would have been enough to get me to switch to clipless pedals.  Nope.  There was NO WAY I was going to hook myself to my pedals.  What if I couldn’t get my foot out?  I’ve seen it happen to others; it’s not pretty.  I really didn’t want to be the girl lying sideways in the trail, still straddling her bike, still hooked by her feet to those tiny metal clips, still wishing she hadn’t entrusted her life to them.  It just seemed so… dangerous.

Oh, and I’m stubborn, resistant to change, a tight wad, and possibly a little overly sentimental.  I’d already traded my cutoffs for bike shorts.  My tevas for shoes (albeit New Balance sneakers).  My bandana for a helmet.  My Gary Fisher for my Cannondale.  My baskets were the last piece of the 90’s I had left!

Still.  When a rep from Pearl Izumi contacted me about reviewing some gear on my blog I knew in an instant what I had to do.  The time had come.  It was time to join the legions of mountain bikers around the world and go clipless.  It was time to face my fears.

I got my Elite II’s in the mail a few months ago. I was immediately intimidated.  They sat on the living room floor where I could see them every day.  I’d vacuum around them, tell myself that tomorrow was the day… I biked all summer with my baskets, assuring myself that each ride was the last.  “I’ll try them on the next ride” I’d tell Joe.  Pretty soon I started wondering if I should just send them back.

Then one day, for no reason other than that it was Tuesday, I went for it. (more…)

Mountain Biking with Kids? Get a Trailer Bike.

Makes mountain biking with kids easier
We debated for a long time over getting a trailer bike. Would we like it? Is it a pain to pull? Does it do well on single track? And most importantly, will Ari like it?

Ari is, how should I say this… cautious? Ok, basically he’s afraid of everything but bugs. He won’t go anywhere near a climbing harness (yet) and up until last week wouldn’t set foot in a water vessel. BUT he has shown an interest in biking. He learned to ride pretty quick and seemed to really enjoy single track on his balance bike. So maybe?

Then our friends posted this video of their daughter (Ari’s age) riding a trail with her Dad. It was all over. We had to have one.

And now I can tell you all the reasons we love OUR trailer bike: (more…)

My Favorite Lantern – The Apollo

I just ordered another Apollo Lantern from Black Diamond. I’ll soon be the proud owner of 2 of these. Here’s what I love about this thing:

  • We’ve had our first one for 2-3 years, it’s still working as good at the day we bought it, and we’ve put it through a lot.
  • It’s small, but get’s pretty bright. We stopped packing our coleman lantern the day we bought the Apollo. It’s so much easier to pack, use and maintain.
  • It’s versatile. Hang it in the tent /van as a nightlight (dim setting), clean up dinner by the light of the lantern, read, use it as a spaceship (Ari’s favorite), or if your Joe, use it to attract the nocturnal insects your studying. This is why we need more than one.
  • The battery life is amazing.
  • It’s also small and light weight enough for backpacking.

I don’t know… just thought I’d throw this out there incase you needed a little help spending your REI dividend or have a little extra tax return laying around…

A good ‘technical’ description and a few more reviews can be found here.

What’s In Your Daypack?

That’s me and my daypack above, and my dog, which I don’t typically add to my daypack; unless of course your passing an owl in a slot canyon or walking through a grove of Cholla. I guess technically I shouldn’t say it’s MY pack, I married into it. I’m not sure why it’s been my favorite over the past 10 years. It’s a camelback but I never put the bladder in it, I’m not a fan of the outer strapping system and it’s not like it’s THAT comfortable…guess I’ve never really thought about getting a new one. I guess there’s just something to be said for well-worn gear?

But that’s not really the point of the post, the point is what’s IN the daypack. I take this pack with me every time I embark on a day hike with the kids, and when I say day hike I’m talking 3 miles max.

For the sake of ease there are several items that stay in the pack. At first glance it looks like a lot, but most of it you can fit in a small Pack-It Sac.

  1. Toilet paper – Snotty noses and bathroom breaks.
  2. Dog poop bags – For dog poop as well as bathroom break TP or used diapers.
  3. Diapers
  4. Bum wipes – Obviously for bums, also for hand wiping after holding a grasshopper and it spits up on you, etc…
  5. Knife – Because every pack needs a knife.
  6. Suckers – ‘Incentives’ for when your child is toooo tiiiiirrrreeed to go on.
  7. Small first aid kit10 Bandages, 2 Gauze Pads, 4 Alcohol Wipes, 2 Triple Antibiotic Ointments, 2 Sting Relief Towelletes, 2 Antimicrobial Towelettes, 1 small roll athletic tape.
  8. Bandana – Forgot a hair thing, forgot TP, need a tourniquet, babies bald head getting sunburned… always handy! (more…)

Minivans. The Camping Revolution?

I resisted a minivan for years. Instead I preferred to shove a kid, a dog, a weeks worth of camping/outdoor gear (and on one occasion 3 chickens) into or on top of our wagon. There was zero floor space anywhere, I couldn’t move my feet, rarely could you see out the back window, it smelled like dog breath and because we didn’t have tinted windows I once saw someone taking a photo of us with their cell phone. It was apparently a sight to behold.

I finally caved after Isaac was born. It took one road trip with an additional kid/car seat and I was done, a 2001 Toyota Sienna it was. You may be asking why not an SUV? Well, minivans are just far superior. Theeeey ummm, well, they… Ok, maybe superior isn’t the right word, how about practical? Economic?

Things I’ve learned (and trust me, this took time) to love about our minivan.

1. We paid cash for it. I wanted a Honda Pilot, which would have meant taking out a loan, which would have meant going into debt, which I’m really glad we didn’t do.

2. It’s versatile. Around town we only have the front seats in, this allows maximum child access for the driver and  plenty of room in the back for gear. On road trips we switch it up and only have the back bench in. This allows space in the middle for a cooler, a crate of food and a crate of toys/books and the bouldering pad (which is great for changing diapers, taking naps or eating lunch on road trips in the winter. Oh, or bouldering). All other non essentials are piled up in the back on our makeshift shelving system or on top in the rocket box.

3. We can sleep in it. And quite comfortably actually, unless you count the time I slept on my arm funny and couldn’t move it for 2 weeks. This configuration involves the back bench, the bouldering pad folded out and a hammock along the roof. (more…)

The Power of the Balance Bike

Ari learned to ride a bike at age 3. I could attribute this to his stellar athletic ability and make all sorts of assumptions about him being the next Lance Armstrong, but the truth of the matter is that it’s all in the method. Our friends got their daughter a balance bike, i.e a bike with no pedals, this one to be exact. The idea is that kids learn how to balance first, then incorporate pedals. Ari caught onto the balance thing almost immediately and loved his friends balance bike.

We couldn’t afford a ‘real’ balance bike so we made our own using this two step process:

Step 1: Buy a small kids bike (one your child can reach the ground on).

Step 2: Get a wrench, take the pedals off. (If you want to get more advanced you can take the cranks off too, but it takes a little more know how and a few extra tools)

Works like a charm. We put the pedals back on after about a month or two of balance training, Ari took off riding on the first try, he was even making skid marks on the sidewalk! (Kudos also go to our dog K-So who has put in some time dragging Ari around the block on his bike so he could practice his balancing technique.)

The Brakes Work. Instantly.

Back in the 90’s I perceived Cannondale as the brand that all the spandex wearing, rich wanna be mountain biking yuppies had. This was back in the day when we would go to Moab and bike slick rock, porcupine, etc in cut-off jeans, tevas and no helmets. A few things have changed since the 90’s, I started wearing a helmet, switched my biking foot gear from tevas to chacos and now have padded butt spandex biking shorts. And while I’m no longer riding the two sizes too big Iron Horse I had back in the day, I have been riding the same bike, my friend Jocelyn rode in some of those later days of Moab. Oh, and another thing has recently changed, I’m now a Cannondale owner.

Joe surprised me with a new bike, a bike I wanted but knew it was against our better judgment to buy it right now; even with a pro-deal on the table. Joe perceived it different, how can we afford NOT to get a bike when there is a pro deal on table. Our Brother-in-law manages a bike shop and therefore is entitled to a certain # of pro deals per year. He and his wife typically get new bikes every year but his wife (Joe’s sister) had a baby this year so there was a pro deal to spare, which they generously offered to us. Thankfully Joe went for it. We can always pay our savings back later. Right?

Here is her glamor shot stolen strait off the internet.


While in St.G visiting family I took her on a maiden voyage down Bear Poppy. A few noteworthy differences between this bike and Gary (my beloved late 90’s Gary Fisher):

1. The brakes work. Instantly.
2. When I go downhill it doesn’t sound like I’m dragging a bucket of bolts behind me.
3. The sifters shift promptly upon shifting.
4. It’s even smaller than Gary. So fun to maneuver.
5. When riding down a drop I don’t have to throw my weight back as far.
6. Riding uphill is effortless. I could have ridden up hill all day*. Now I can see how you people bike in the Wasatch.
7. Perhaps her only downfall is that I can’t catch as much air on the little kickers when flying downhill. Perhaps it’s because I have shocks that work??

Anyway, she’s nothing TOO fancy, but she’s all the fancy I need. I love it.

* And by all day I don’t actually mean all day.

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    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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