Here and there...
MSR Lightning Ascent: I am new to snowshoeing, and really wasn't sure what pair/which type of snowshoe to get. I know I like to hike/backpack, I know I love winter, so I wasn't too worried about whether I'd like snowshoeing. I did my research and settled on MSR. Then came the decision over which size to order. I could have ordered the 22", but I went ahead and ordered the 25"so that I can use them backpacking. I figured I'd take the extra three inches of length for a little more versatility (and I didn't order the tails).
I ordered them in July (great price) and ordered the Sky Blue color, which is actually a very bright blue. They are high quality, great grip, and very comfortable. The bindings are versatile and I did have a little trouble the first time I put them on, but as I said, I'm new at this. I snowshoed in backcountry on pretty flat terrain, but had to hike over branches and fallen logs. My short legs had no trouble with the 25" snowshoes. I look forward to many, many more adventures. All I need now is more snow.
I received the Thermal Flyer in Maraschino in a size M (30" waist, bust 35"). The color is a bright, slightly pinkish red, which I like. I washed it on cold and let it air dry. It dried quickly and held it's shape very well. It is soft against the skin,and has a very nice fit - fitted, but not snug. I don't care for real snug, just not my preference. I wore this snowshoeing yesterday and worked up a good sweat, but alas, no odor. I like that because I tend to sweat so easily. Merino wool has a lot of appeal to me, and I've had good luck with Patagonia products and their durability. I look forward to having this top to incorporate into my wardrobe.
I bought these Columbia snow pants for my eight year old who had been wearing an old hand-me-down pair that no longer repel water. He wears size 7 jeans and the size 8 fit him, allowing plenty of length to grow but not so long he's tripping over them. He is thin and the adjustable waist is really nice. He's been testing them out and breaking them in these past few days playing in tempts that have dipped down to around -10 degrees with the windchill and with a good 15-16 inches of snow on the ground. He was really excited about his green snow pants and has already logged numerous hours in them sledding, trekking through the woods and building snow forts.
I bought two pair of these after moving up north from Texas. One for my 10 year-old son and another for my 8 year-old daughter. Terrible. The insides of both pair got soaked from the get-go, especially my son who usually plays outside for longer periods then my daughter. They get so wet that even by sitting them in front of a heater or fireplace it is impossible to dry them out by the next day. With-in a few weeks my son's started coming unstitched where the fabric attaches to the rubber. I've bought and been happy with a lot of Columbia products, but these are the worst boots I've ever purchased.
I think these boots are somewhat bulkier then other kids snow boots, but I never heard complaints in that regard. My son was able to get two seasons out of these, but during the second season the fabric around the top of the left boot came completely unstitched, which meant exposed string was cinched around his leg. This also allowed for snow to get inside the boot. Snow boots are a seasonal item that don't get excessive amounts of use, at least here, maybe three months or so. Perhaps I got a pair of lemons, but when I buy what I hope is a quality product I am frustrated with mediocre or worse. I buy on sale but it's still irritating.
Bought these for my three year old and he was able to get two years out of them. Could play for hours and hours outside with his older siblings and he never complained of discomfort and they always kept his feet warm and dry. They were in very good shape at the end of the two years and got passed down to his cousin. I have bought many boots for little feet and these have probably been the best quality.
I bought these for my five year old and purchased a size bigger than his shoe size, and he said they were snug the first time putting them on. But he also had on two pair of socks. I always think boots/shoes have a break-in period so not too surprising there. My little guy played outside two days in a row for hours and hours (in about 15 inches of snow) and the boots were completely dry on the inside, and he said his feet were warm. The construction and stitching appears to be high quality. My only complaint is that the tongue is connected to the boot, so as to not allow any snow in boot, which is great. The problem in this boot is that it's awkward when you go to velcro the boots. Because of the bulk I really had to play with it so that it wasn't so bunched up, it just doesn't lay as nice as most boots do. Hopefully they hold up and he gets two years of play out of them and they can be passed down.
***UPDATE: My son has been breaking these in with all the snow we've gotten, and I'm updating my rating from 4 to 5 stars. The fabric has softened up, so the struggle to velcro them has subsided. Still warm, still dry toes after hours and hours in the snow.
I have the Alpine Bibs in the deep plum (which I really like) and although I have not yet put them through the ringer,I do have some first impressions after a couple of uses. They do have a somewhat odd fit in that that waist is small (as in I wiggle pulling them up but they're fine once they're up) and as stated by another review the bum area is quite poofy. Not flattering, but clearly allows for full range of movement. I am 5'4" and the length is actually pretty decent, not too long. I have a 30" waist and 38" hips and the medium fit me. If I drop some weight the bum area will look even more odd, but truth be told I'm pretty practical and these are a very high quality bib that should withstand a lot of wear and abuse. I wore them out today with nothing but wool leggings and I was very comfortable - I'm guessing the temps were around 10 degrees or so. If you want flattering, the Patagonia Primo pants are a good option.
My eight-year old son updated to this backpack for his first overnight backpacking trip. He was ecstatic getting this pack. Now, he has a 21" waist, and it barely fit him. There's no way any of our kids could have fit this pack at 5 or 6 years of age, so if you have petite or slim children keep this in mind. On the plus side, he will be able to use this backpack for many years to come.
We loaded it up, and he hiked up and down, over dunes and down the beach with no complaints. It was a great and memorable trip, and he was genuinely thrilled with his Kelty pack.
As a side note: There are two internal bars inside this pack that keep that compartment open. These bars must be attached to the outside, external bar thru two small slits in the pack PRIOR to use. I almost missed this when setting up my sons backpack. If you missed this step the bars could poke through the pack potentially causing a problem.
I can say without hesitation this is my FAVORITE piece of equipment I've ever purchased as a parent. My biggest regret is that I didn't purchase it sooner. We bought this in 2008 and it is still being used. We lived in Texas and it had great ventilation during hot summer walks. (Not all trailers have this, so if you live in the south you might want to keep that in mind when shopping.)
During camping trips it puts the kids to sleep and they're comfortable enough in the reclined, cushioned seats that you let them nap in it. We've used it closed up during the winter (now live in Michigan) and throw a blanket in and the kids have always been snug as a bug.
My youngest are now 8 & 5, and we biked all summer to swim lessons in it. Now, my eight year old is getting a little tall, but both boys napped EVERY single day in the 16 mile round-trip ride. And the storage in the back was more than ample for two beach towels, bike locks and a shoulder bag for me. It is great exercise, and an unbelievably smooth ride.
It is expensive, no doubt about it. But I am a very detailed person, and I believe this Chariot has been extremely well thought out. I cannot find any complaints after over four years of use. Also, it was looking a bit dirty so I gave it a good cleaning this summer and it looks great.
This is a great tent that is quite spacious. It has fit myself, husband and our five kids fairly comfortably. Or myself with a cot, pack n' play and two young children. Or four rambunctious boys and all their luggage and toys.
The two vestibules are large and I have stored our Chariot Trailer in a vestibule at night, amongst the shoes.
I can set the Halo up in a matter of minutes with my two oldest boys. Rainfly is a little tricky for a short person.
In nice weather sleeping without the rainfly is awesome, it's so nice to look up at a clear starry sky with the night air blowing in.
We have faced lots of inclement weather in this tent. It weathers thunderstorms with ease. I've never had condensation issues and we've camped in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas in it. There was one awful storm in which we did have to take the tent down (rocky area and we couldn't stake it down properly). We were lake front and there were recorded 55-60 mph winds. The poles were slightly bent. We got the tent down and spent the remainder of the night in the truck. Several campers left the campground and many tents were destroyed during the storm.
Just recently the Halo made it through a snow storm. We had 8-10 inches of very wet, heavy snow. Four boys slept in it and didn't do a great job keeping the snow off the top. The poles bent in two places but made it thru seven days of rain, sleet, snow and ice. (At the end of the trip we were able to straighten the poles somewhat).
I would highly recommend the Marmot Halo to anyone interested in a spacious tent that can stand up to a variety of weather. The quality is impressive, and the abuse Mother Nature has thrown it's way is a testament to that. And for what it's worth, I really like the color.
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