Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin
Let me start by saying that I haven't actually worn these for a technical application yet, but I have to say that they are pretty cool. Don't let the "fitted" term scare you because they aren't skin tight, but have more of a tapered leg. They are fitted enough that you could wear them as a base layer, but not so much that you can't wear them on their own. The elastic waist has a drawstring, so you could get a larger size if worried about them being too tight when wearing them on their own. Also, although they are Windstopper, don't mistake that to mean that they overly warm....they probably won't be good on their own much under 50 degrees. The only thing that kept me from giving 5 stars is that there aren't any pockets! Backcountry states there are, but it is possible that mine are a different year's model as I bought them from another store and not from Backcountry. Mine have a small zipper pocket on the back (in the middle near the waist), but I don't know what good it will be because it is so small that I don't think you could fit more than a folded up dollar bill in it! I plan on using these as a base layer on cold windy days, and for bike riding in the Spring.
I found a great deal on this jacket in the fuchsia/gray color. I was very surprised at how comfortable it is as it is very stretchy and breathable. The darker colored panels are not Windstopper material and are the "stretchy" material. You can't tell from the picture, but the Windstopper material only goes from the collar to about mid-shoulder blade height in the back. This is nice if your back tends to get sweaty, but it may not be ideal if looking to protect yourself from wind in everyday situations. In other words, I recommend for aerobic activity, but probably not for an everyday situation where you are looking for warmth.
I was looking for a pair of waterproof shoes for hiking in wet conditions. I didn't want a heavy shoe so I could wear them in the summer as well. This shoe is lightweight and comfortable. I bought these in February and wore them in a pretty snowy/icy area and they did pretty well, but I did slide around a bit. That being said, I don't think that I would wear them in icy conditions again.
This is probably the warmest fleece I own. It is great for layering or on its own as well, although it could be a little bulky under something that has an athletic fit. It isn't windproof, so you may want to consider another layer if wearing by itself on a really windy day. I wear this one hiking, shopping, and just around the house. My cat is a big fan as well...I often catch him sleeping on it!
These fit great and aren't too snug for base layer pants. I like to wear them hiking under a pair of hiking pants, and are good for a temperature range of 30-50 degrees. They also have moisture wiking properties, so you don't get wet if you do start to sweat in them. These also work well under blue jeans!
I have never been able to keep a pair of sunglasses in good shape until I bought the Flak Jackets! They are performance type of sunglasses, that still look stylish and look good on either men or women. I purchased mine from an actual Oakley store, which gave me the option to customize them exactly how I wanted them, and save a little bit of money on a second pair of lenses. I ended up getting the black frame with the positive red iridium as well as the G30 iridium lenses. I wear contacts and my eyes are very sensitive to light, so having a pair of lenses that lets enough light in while still shading the bright light was my goal. I was also having a hard time when riding my bike in a wooded area, as I could not see the path well enough to avoid any debris that I might encounter. My goal is to use the G30s for biking, however I am waiting for spring to actually see how well they do. I have used both lenses for hiking and both work out great. The contrast lenses make all of the difference! The lenses are a little difficult to change at first, however the more you do it, the easier it gets. I recommend having a clerk at the store show you how to do it, or look for some how-to videos on YouTube. They also come with a really nice case to store them in, as well as hold two additional pairs of lenses. I think that this is the key to keeping them in great shape. They are either on my head or in the case...they rarely ever touch a table or car seat because I am paranoid about losing or breaking them! BTW, I first looked at these at Sunglass Hut before purchasing them and the clerk did not want to show me how to change the lenses because it was too difficult for him. I'll drive the extra hour out of my way to go back to the Oakley store next time I want new sunglasses!
NOTE: If you intend to wear these glasses for driving, be aware that due to the width of the temple on the frames, they will create a blind spot while driving! This shouldn't deter you from considering them, however you should be aware of it. I am careful to turn my body more when changing lanes, etc. when wearing these, and so far that has been good enough!
I bought this pack and really like it! The suspension is great for hiking when it is warmer, and it really helps keep you cool! It has lots of pockets and adjustments to help you size it just for your body. If you have never owned a pack like this, I recommend going to a good sporting goods store (like REI) to have them show you how to size it and work all of the straps and belts. The only downside I have seen is when hiking in the winter, it can be almost too small if you want to carry or stash extra layers. I can usually fit extra gloves, a hat, neck gaiter, a fleece, and a rain jacket in addition to some smaller accessories. Again, it can be kind of tight with all of this, but so far it hasn't been an issue. If you are looking to carry any more than what you might need for a couple hour hike in cold conditions, I would suggest getting a larger size and possibly a pack that has a draw string top closure. My husband has the Stratos 36 and that seems to be perfect for his needs (as well as anything I don't want to shove in my pack)!
I purchased the men's version of these boots because I couldn't find ANY women's sizes in the wide width, in store. I had bunion surgery about 9 months before buying these and wanted to make sure they didn't rub on the sides of my feet. The men's version is naturally a bit wider than the women's, so these worked pretty well! These boots are great and didn't need a break-in period at all. These are my go-to boots and I only wish that they were waterproof as well. My normal shoe size fit too tight, and even an entire size larger was still too snug. I would be interested in picking up another pair in a women's size if I can find one that doesn't fit too tightly (btw, I decided to post this review under the women's version instead of the men's in the hope that other women with a similar foot or sizing problem would consider the men's version as well. They are very similar in color/design, and most people won't notice that they are actually a men's shoe).
I love this hoodie! It is warm, but lightweight and looks great. It is cut a little longer, which is what I like. I wore this hiking as well as around town and it kept me plenty warm on both occasions. The thumb holes are nice if you want some hand warmth, but don't want to wear gloves. Overall, I am very happy with it!
This was my first softshell and I was lucky to get it right the first time! The fit is great and I bought it for the fact that it is wind/water resistant. It can get a a little warm if you are doing a lot of aerobic activity, so you need a moisture wicking layer underneath. The only improvement suggestion would be the addition of some pit-zips, which are hard to find on women's jackets anyway. It isn't terribly warm, and you may want to add a warm layer if you plan on wearing it in less than 30 degree weather. Otherwise, this is a great option if you are looking for a nice softshell!
I first bought this vest in Turtle Dove, which is sort of off-white. I normally stay away from white for fear of dirt, but I really liked the black side panels and the black lining on the collar, plus I figured that the off-white color would be more forgiving of dirt. The vest is a little shorter than I normally like, but it is a perfect length for layering under a jacket. I read other reviews where some people complained about the arms being too large, but the skirt helps keep wind out and I think that it is great for cushioning under a heavy pack. I liked this vest so much that I bought the light blue color as well! I plan on wearing these mostly for hiking in spring/fall (in the midwest) as my main warmth layer. This vest also has the Dri-Clime lined pockets which are so soft! This vest is very sleek and feminine and a good choice especially if you don't want to spend the money on an expensive down vest.
I had been looking for a Marmot down jacket for hiking and casual wear for some time, but being a bit curvier, I found that the Venus was a little snug in the hip area (in XL). However, the Milo fits great because it is a bit longer and it is a bit more stylish and feminine. Even though it is a bit longer than the Venus, it is still very light and very warm! The extra length helps keep you warmer as well. The only down side I can see is that it isn't wind proof (most down jackets aren't), so you may not want to wear it on a very windy day. Found a great deal by shopping the post-Christmas sales.
I needed a heavier winter jacket that I could use for many purposes as well as every day use, and this one was it! This is honestly the best coat I have ever owned. The Thermal-r layer is very warm and attractive enough to wear on its own. I have zipped out the Thermal-r layer a few times when hiking in 20 degree weather (and just worn the outer layer) because it can be too warm when you are doing aerobic activity. The Thermal-r layer packs down nicely to shove in a pack as well. The outer layer performs great in the rain and is a nice length as well. The pit-zips are handy and easy to zip on your own. I love the Dri-Clime lining on the collar and in the pockets as well. The only negative of this jacket is that the inner layer is about 2 inches shorter than the outer layer and you can sometime see the line where the inner layer ends from the outside of the outer layer. This is a minor thing IMO, however it happens to fall right where the Marmot logo is at the bottom of the jacket, and it kind of obscures the logo. The hood is detachable, but I haven't found a need to detach it yet. There is a cinch adjustment on the back of the hood to size it so you can actually see out if it when the hood is up! I bought the black color because I wanted a neutral jacket to wear for any occasion. This jacket is sleek, sophisticated, and very feminine. I have worn in everyday for 3 months and it still looks brand new! Overall a great product.
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