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The innovative GeigerRig hydration packs

I was provided this innovative hydration pack, Rig 500 Ballastic, from the folks at GeigerRig. I was excited to review as I had traditionally used CamelBack hydration bladders for everything from hiking, skiing, biking, golf (bladder stashed in bag) and hitting the beach with the family.

This is a feature rich pack that changes my thoughts on hydration bladders I had used prior to GeigerRig. This pack is loaded with cool features including a dry stash pocket for your iPod and other pockets with just enough room for an extra set of keys, wallet, snacks for the kids and parent(s).  One tip that I recommend is filling just past a 1/4 full with water and put in the freezer the night before your activity to have cold water on the go for many hours. I have filled half way to provide even longer duration on the hottest of days. It’s become the go to for any family activity in which we need water. 

Here is what seperates these guys from the crowd (please see videos highlighted below for full feature explanations):

1) Pressurized  bladder- no more sucking, after a few pumps it can be sprayed into your mouth, your dogs mouth or even to clean the grime off your legs after a muddy hike or bike.

2) Filtration System- you can easily remove the regular tube and use the filtration tube for times you know you will need more water and have the luxury to dip into any water source without the hassle of using tablets, boiling, etc to purify the water. I do think that the pressured spray isn’t as strong but who cares when you are filtering primarily to drink.

3) Cleaning- if you have used bladders in the past you know that taste you can get after a few uses and it’s frustrating to not be able to clean the bladder better after every use. These bladders come with a plastic slider on one end allowing you to reach and a revers bladder for a quick cleaning or for a better clean the bladder is durable enough for the dishwasher.

While I have highlighted benefits in the warmer weather the GeigerRig’s also have insulated tubes which allow you to retrofit for Winter activities.

Never suck again and get yourself set up for the ultimate in hydration technology.

Wolverine Fulcrum Hiking Boots

While this boot has been out a while now it’s not losing it’s luster. Many folks including myself may have only known Wolverine (they also own and have been expanding Chaco’s line) as work boot but they have made a splash in the hiking department. I first used these right out of the box for an easy hike up Mt Monadnock with one of my daughters on my back to get a feel for stability and support with a load closer to 40 pounds. I went up the most direct route and was impressed with how the Vibram soles stuck to the steeper granite slabs along the way up and more importantly on the way down. To be fair, like most soles they didn’t inspire confidence when the surface was wet.

The ICS (Individual Comfort System) feature in which I thought was kind of gimmicky proved worthy. While cumbersome to have to take off the boot and take out the insole it to adjust there is a clear benefit on a longer hike. I thought I would have to change it out along the way more often but only did once…on the way up stiff and way down softer. The ICS feature is also a solution for those that overpronate or have high arch issues.

The Gore-Tex membrane doesn’t disappoint and I wear these other times when banging around in wetter conditions when needing to stay dry. I have tempted fate by standing in a few inches of water for a longer duration expecting to get soggy but they stood strong. I believe the lack of seams on this boot are the main reason other then the Gore-Tex lining that they with stood the water.

I find myself wearing these off the trail as well and like the throwback look. At the $200 price point they have a lot of competition but can be found for less and I can recommend picking a pair up if you are putting in some hours on the trail this Fall. Many thanks to Wolverine for providing these fine boots for review.

                                                                                                                                                                                

Pros

  • Retro look
  • Adjustability of support
  • Gore-Tex membrane
  • Vibram sole
  • no stink organic lining

Cons

  • could be lighter
  • breath ability

Merino wool is nature’s gift for warm weather

I have spent the last few months wearing some remarkable merino wool items by Icebreaker. I have been hooked the last few summers on wearing merino wool throughout the dog days of summer and Icebreaker has impressed. I was provided a Tech T Lite, Tech Polo, and Distance Short.

The Tech T Lite feels super lightweight and super soft. The merino wool pulls any sign of moisture right off the skin and transfers away. The breath ability and quick dry natural fiber is amazing in this tee as well as all the Icebreaker items. After many washes the shirt remains form fitting. Range of use is ridiculous from any highly active workout to lounging in a soft, comfortable t-shirt.

As far as versatility the shirt has been an ace in the hole all summer. The feel of the Tech Polo is that of a lightweight tee shirt with a collar which makes for the best golf shirt I have probably ever worn. This is a casual shirt that can be worn at the golf course, BBQ, the office and on the trail.

The only thing about this Ultralite 150 and it’s SuperFine weight is it’s durability. I have found this not only with Icebreaker but with other wool clothing companies that make a more lightweight blend of merino. Little holes began to appear near the bottom of the shirt about after three-four months of (a lot of) wear and wash (all items laid flat to dry).  Any issues are quick to be resolved at any company providing top quality merino products which provides confidence in the product and future purchases. This is a great shirt for weekend travel in the summer as it can be worn multiple times without the stink and wear of cotton.

Of all the merino wool product I have worn or reviewed I have never tried out shorts. The Distant Short is made for primarily for running, but I found them great for a routine at the gym or time on the mat at the yoga studio. They came with a liner but I still felt the need to where a my underwear. Anyway, they performed just as any merino tops and exceeded expectation as who would think wool shorts become the go to for an any highly active pursuit.

With all the synthetic alternatives out there they still can’t beat nature’s gift of merino wool.

Commit to making a difference: Vapur | The Anti-Bottle

Do you buy cases of water bottles at the grocery store? Where does each one of those end up? I would like to share a brief story, I was walking the dog as usual this week and during the walk came across four empty water bottles. I then came across six more walking my daughter to school that morning. By 8:30am I had already encountered 10 empty water bottles that I picked up along the way. While I live in the city this is not isolated to any particular area but rather is a problem for the world and it’s oceans. Most storm drains in the neighborhood have stamps stating they drain into Boston Harbor.  These drains are where the bottles are usually found just before they make there way into the ocean. This may seem to be an extreme example but it honestly is the reality.

Very frustrating that the State House here in Massachusetts can’t get the proposed Bottle Bill passed and enact a 5cent deposit on beverage containers including water bottles. This will only be part of the solution and humans the other. I do know that with a 5cent deposit these would not litter city streets on a daily basis. I don’t know enough on why this isn’t going to pass this summer. I do know that I can make my own changes and ask you do the same.

Made in the USA, Vapur, recently sent me a couple of their  foldable, reusable, freezable, washable, and attachable alternative to disposable water bottles. Their tag line of “The Anti-Bottle” is the ultimate 3 word marketing message for  Vapur.

These go everywhere with me as when they are empty the breakdown super compact and and hook to anything. I have an Element .7L and Fun Size two pack to always have to hook one to the Ergo carrier or stroller. My 3.5 year old loves having it on the ready whether we are at the Aquarium or in the woods. I like being able to fill them half way and leaving in the freezer. When frozen they stay cold for hours…especially nice on the golf course or beach.

Below is a custom one I found at the New England Aquarium…selling in support of World Oceans Day.

Interested in making a difference? Pick out your own “Anti-Bottle” here.

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

This ultralight, waterproof jacket is just another reason Outdoor Research has become a favorite of mine. Weighing just over 6 ounces, it packs away into a pouch to go anywhere. OR ultilizes a lightweight Pertex weatherproof shield to keep your torso dry at all times.

The Helium II trims the fat of a full featured rain shell- offering one chest pocket and no pit zips. The jacket breathes notably better than the first version of the jacket… but will get clammy when doing higher endurance activities. I originally thought of it as an ‘in case of emergency’ jacket but it quickly has become my go-to heading into the Summer months. It’s more of a windbreaker that happens to be a fully taped seam waterproof shell to boot! The hood has a great cinch cord on the back although a little hard to manage with one hand on the fly.

I can’t get over how lightweight it feels when wearing and it’s never is left out of the bike pannier, backpack, golf bag or any other weekend bag.

This jacket is the perfect solution to prepare for the unexpected weather in your travels around town or into the hills.

Key feature overview:          

  • Ultralight waterproof/breathable
  • Fully seam taped
  • Adjustable hood
  • Water resistant zippers
  • 7.5″/19cm internal storm flap
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Stuff pocket with carabiner loop
  • Elastic cuffs
  • Drawcord hem

Give life to your legs with Spenco insoles

Spenco sent me a few pairs of insoles to try out as a way to reduce knee pain. Specifically I was sent the Polysorb Total SupportFLOW Warm, and FLOW Cool, which I have tried with several pairs of footwear and in a multitude of environments.

I have used the Polysorb Total Support in my ski boots to provide further stability of my feet. Honestly, I found it easier to drive ski tip pressure with my big toe on the outside ski- allowing deeper early turn initiation. I swap these right into any of my hiking boots. These insoles have bestowed an extended life with some of my older boots, while providing a lively bounce in all footwear. I also used the Polysorb Total Support in my Sorel’s which didn’t get enough time on my feet during our lackluster Winter. They really have become an everyday insole in my Blundstones- they were tested over a few weeks in different conditions, and I’m happy to report they have greatly reduced my chronic knee pain (which is a story for another day!)

I was a little skeptical of the FLOW Warm and FLOW Cool insoles… but have become a believer after using them in my winter boot Chaco Credence Wool Nurl boot (which, btw, you can almost steal from Zappos right now.) The FLOW Cool have been coming into play lately with the spring weather, and are better suited for running or cycling shoes. While I flip-flopped this winter between the FLOW Warm and Polysorb Total Support, the FLOWs are thinner and meant more for running shoes in cooler temps. I currently use and won’t go without the Polysorb Total Support in my everyday Blundstone boots.

Takeaway: using insoles other then the stock insoles provided with your footwear will provide longer life of your boot or shoe, while alleviating pains that you have just lived with.  A simple switch of insoles can help!

Polarmax Technical Base Layers and All Year Gear

Polarmax products are all 100% made in the USA and utilize superior green initiatives with packaging.  I had the opportunity over the last month to put multiple Polarmax products through their paces. Being a strong proponent of all things merino wool this was a true test as I didn’t use any of the Polarmax merino base layers straying from my comfort zone.

The Heavy Weight Comp 4 Max Stretch top and bottom are made of 90% Acclimate Dry Polyester and 10% Spandex. The super athletic cut of the fabric made the spandex a key component allowing for the necessary flexibility dropping the knees for my turns down the 7 inches of fresh at Cannon Mountain. Cannon was also the perfect venue to understand if they would keep me warm but also breath. Being an East facing mountain staying warm is paramount at Cannon. Once at the top and in search of fresh tracks we hiked over to Mittersill and both pieces wicked away the moisture from my skin keeping me comfortable on the way up. It was warm for Cannon being around 24 degrees but a wind chill making it feel like 12 degrees.  I can see why Polarmax is the official supplier of the National Ski Patrol as I never felt cold, wet, or clammy beneath these base layers.

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What I didn’t know before receiving the product from Polarmax was that they produce a year round product made of cotton. I did say cotton! This isn’t your everyday cotton though as they have developed a wicking and stink free performance cotton.  The “All Year Gear 365″ (AYG) made of 96% cotton and 4% spandex giving that additional support and stretch in the boxer brief and their short and long sleeve crew tops. The shirts did run pretty long even though I have a longer torso. I think the AYG shirts could be tailored with more of the athletic cut found in the heavy weight base layers offered by Polarmax and the AYG boxer briefs. The AYG shirts and boxers are perfect for all day or more appropriately in the gym or other active pursuit as they provide a no stink, quick drying fabric.
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