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Karen

Karen

Oregon Cascades and Sierra Nevada

Karen's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Running
Paddling
Climbing

Karen's Bio

Outdoor educator/vagabond of the West Coast. Find me rafting and backpacking in the summers, climbing in the fall, snowboarding in the winter, and mountaineering in the spring.

Karen

Karenwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I don't know about you all, but I love water. As compelled by this love, I consider my drom to be one of the most important pieces of gear that I own.

It's lighter than water bottles, more packable, and has a greater capacity. Plus, these things are tough as nails. I work as an outdoor educator and I've seen these droms survive 10+ years, with hundreds of field days each year, and that's with teenagers using them.

I've heard a couple of complaints about them, specifically 1) that you still need to carry a water bottle to fill it and 2) that the caps are prone to leaking. I find that 90% of the time you can fill these most of the way without another vessel. Even when you can't, you likely have a thermos or a pot that you can use to top them off. As for the caps, I've never had one leak on me and I've never seen one crack or degrade. I have had friends get defective lids that leak from the get-go but MSR has always been great about respecting their quality guarantee and replaced them on warranty. (Also, a fun fact about the MSR lids: they are sized the same as nalgene products. The large lid is the same size as a water bottle lid and the smaller nozzle is the same size as the 2 oz spice/liquid containers that they sell so you can replace them on your own or put an emergency cap on if you're in a pinch.)

Also, these droms have more uses than just replacing the use of water bottles. They're key for dry-camping and even when you're just the standard 100-200 ft. from your water source while camping, I love keeping a store of water at hand for cooking and hot drinks. These are also the best back-country hand-wash system out there. You can hang it up in camp and keep norovirus at bay without rinsing soap or your nasty-human-hand-funk into your water source.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on June 29, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 140 lbs
Size Purchased: 10

I'll start off with the positives: These shorts are made out of an awesome fabric. They're a medium weight so they're durable and opaque but they still feel light and dry super quick. Also the patterns are super fun and difficult to beat.

The only downfall is the sizing is pretty weird. They definitely run small; I have a size 10 of these when I normally wear a size 6. Then the proportions are kind of funny in that they fit nicely around my hips and thighs but are super loose around the waist. Part of that is because they're designed with a board short drawstring system so you can only adjust them a couple of inches, and only from the front (as opposed to all the way around your waist with a belt-like drawstring) but I imagine these were made with smaller hips in mind.

I still love rocking them but I always wear them with a longer shirt to avoid any accidental mooning.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on June 22, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This thing is sick. I agree that the Wave is a touch heavy and I admit that I generally don't take out on backpacking trips or shorter expeditions when I'm cutting weight. That being said, though, this tool has virtually every useful thing you can imagine with no real superfluous flairs. I carry it around with me most of the time when I'm front-country and I use it at least once a week for anything ranging from slicing cheese to repairing someone's glasses. If weight isn't a huge issue or you are going on a longer expedition where you suspect you'll need to do some repairs (or some light trail work, for that matter) the Wave is probably the only tool you need.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on June 21, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I used to rock and old pair of second hand running shoes with a fully eroded sole and I was starting to find myself having pretty bothersome ankle problems every time I ran. As a result, I decided to upgrade to a pair of these. Within a few running sessions all ankle pains went away so I'm stoked about that.

These shoes are also incredibly light weight and super comfortable. I've never had issues with blisters or hot-spots, even when going 8-9 miles in them. The soles provide a great deal of cushioning to lighten the impact on your knees and if you look at the heels they're actually designed to keep you from rolling your ankles.

The only downfall is they're not so great as trail-running shoes. I live in the East Cascades and I'm finding that the volcanic choss is tearing the light-weight soles up pretty quickly and even when I run on gravel roads, the gaps designed to cut the weight of the soles are the perfect size to get rocks stuck in which is kind of annoying. I still love them, but they're best on pavement.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on June 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I wouldn't describe the jetboil as flawless, but as of right now, there simply aren't many products out there that do what the jetboil does. As a stove, the jetboil is good for ultra light-weight, rehydrated meals, and boiling water uber fast. I use it exclusively for the latter. The new models now have a heat activated exterior design that changes color when the water is almost to boiling temperature so you can boil more than half-a-liter of water without creating a spewing volcano of searing water-magma, which I appreciate.

Coming from an aggressive coffee addict, I won't say that the french-press attachment makes the cleanest cup of joe by any stretch of the imagination, however I will pitch that there is NOTHING better, in this world, than having the option to boil a pot of water in less than 2 minutes and make a press in the morning, without ever having to leave your sleeping bag.

Until someone patents the super-cousin of the jetboil, this is the real-deal.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on June 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'll start off by saying this drybag is solid. I've taken it out for a couple of week-long trips and it provides all the functions that I expect of a drybag: the construction is good, it seems like it will hold up for a long time, it's easy to pack and, most importantly, it keeps your stuff dry.

That being said, there are a couple of things that would take this drybag from good, to stellar. I have the 70 liter, which I find is more that enough space to pack a week's worth of stuff. I personally think that the proportions of the bag are a touch off, though, in that the bag is a little too tall and skinny so it's difficult to unpack something towards the bottom without unpacking your entire bag (disclaimer: I just transitioned from a lateral bag so this could very likely be a personal prejudice). The only other feature that I would like to see is a handle at the top of the bag. The backpack straps are great for carrying this bag around camp or on short hikes but I think a hand-hold loop at the top of the bag would make it easier to rig in a gear-boat.

All in all, though, worth it.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on May 26, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

I just got back from a week of late-spring mountaineering in the Oregon Cascades where the Nepals worked great. We were camping and traveling in wet snow the whole week and we got a daily minimum of three hours of rain but these boots held up wonderfully. My feet didn?t get wet until the third or fourth day of the trip and even when they started to soak through they kept me warm. I bought these boots second hand and didn?t do anything with them to see how they?d hold up so I?m sure if I had gotten them new or spent some time re-waterproofing them they would have performed even better.

Initially, I was a little concerned about the sizing because the lace system is designed to pinch off where the top of your foot meets your ankle and I found that they would start to cut of circulation to my feet. After I played around with them a little, though, it started to work out very nicely and I never had any problems with numbness when I was using them. Also, because of that lacing design the Nepals allow you to adjust how tight or loose you want the ankle support to be while actually locking your foot in place so you don?t have to worry about toe-bang when you?re kicking steps or descending.

Overall, these are a great shoulder-season mountaineering boot that give you good stiffness, the perfect amount of insulation for warmer snow camping, and a respectable amount of waterproofing.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on May 26, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 140 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

I got this jacket with the intention of getting worked in the Cascades all spring and it has not disappointed yet. I just took it on a week-long mountaineering trip where it rained every day and I spent several hours teaching and demonstrating self-arrest in the snow. The waterproofing is holding up great still. Also the design and cut are really nice since the hood is adjustable and large enough to fit over a helmet and the back extends below your hips to keep your butt dry.

The only downfall is it doesn't have pit-zips so the ventilation game is a little weaker than some other rain jackets' but if you plan on using this for lighter activities or in colder climates, it's probably one of the lightest and most durable rain layers you're going to find.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on February 4, 2015

new favorite adventure dress
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

First off: I want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the folks at Backcountry and prAna for selecting me to review this gear. I’m stoked to help spread the word about quality active clothes to other backcountry users.

General Low-Down:
Super comfortable, flattering, active-wear dress for running errands, casual outings, and hanging around the house.

Fit and Fabric:
The fit on this dress is solid. I’m about 5’7” and 140lbs and the medium fits me like a slightly baggy hoodie. The fabric is a heavy-weight cotton that’s super comfortable; it has a durable feel without being too stiff or starchy. It’s nice and warm, without being too swelterey to wear inside, and it’s thick enough that I know it will last a long time.

The color and design of this dress are hard to beat. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten wearing this dress and I’ve had it for less than a month.

Complaints/Concerns:
If this dress had pockets, it would be perfection.

Overall Impressions:
A perfect casual piece with a feminine touch.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on February 4, 2015

fanciest pair of jeans I’ve ever owned
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

First off: I want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the folks at Backcountry and prAna for selecting me to review this gear. I’m stoked to help spread the word about quality active clothes to other backcountry users.

General Low-Down:
These are an awesome, causal feeling, pant with a high-quality wash and design. They wear like an active pant but look like a nice pair of trousers. I’ve been using them all over town going out to dinner with friends and family and they look great.

Fit:
I’m 5’7” about 140lbs and I usually wear a size 6 in pants. Since prAna gears a little more towards the active, yoga, body-type I decided to order up to a size 8 in these pants. I’m really happy with the relaxed fit that they have now, but honestly the fabric is stretchy enough that I probably could have stayed with my normal size and been fine.

Fabric and Quality:
The fabric on these jeans kind of blew my mind. I don’t even know if I would call them denim they’re so light and flexible. Because of the straight cut, the dark wash, and the small details on the grommets and pockets these look like a semi-formal pair of pants that I would wear to a nicer restaurant or an office job. But since the fabric is so thin and versatile it would still be great to ride my bike around in these, to go on longer walks, run around a little, or to take them traveling.

Complaints/Concerns:
Because the fabric is thinner than on most jeans, I don’t know how well the Jada jeans will hold up to extensive rough-housing in the long-run. However, since durable, light-weight, stretchy fabric is prAna’s bread and butter I have more hope for these than I would in a pair of Abercrombie jeans. I will report back in a few months to let you all know how these pants are faring.

Overall Impressions:
A great pair of town pants that can also function as active wear. I can’t speak from experience, but I feel like these pants would be ideal for moms who go from working at an office or running errands around town, to playing with young kids and running around the yard or a playground.

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Karen

Karenwrote a review of on February 4, 2015

A great yoga/do-whatever-you-want pant
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

First off: I want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the folks at Backcountry and prAna for selecting me to review this gear. I’m stoked to help spread the word about quality active clothes to other backcountry users.

General Low-Down
These leggings are clearly designed as yoga pants. I can’t claim to be a particularly avid yogi and as a result I have found numerous uses for these Misty leggings ranging from lounging around the house, running errands in town, and even as a base-layer while snowboarding (often times all in the same day).

Fit & Fabric:
The fit on these feel true to size. I’m about 5’7” and 140lbs and I got a pair of mediums and they fit great. As for the fabric, there’s a very nice balance here. The fabric is light and flexible enough that these leggings allow full mobility and they’re still thick (read: opaque) enough that you can just wear them as pants without feeling naked. I’ve washed them a few times (always with cold water and normal drying cycle) and they haven’t shrunk at all and I’ve also worn them for several days in a row without them stretching out much or getting baggy.

Additionally, the waistband is about 3 inches wide so they stay up really nicely and fit well to your hips and waist. This means you avoid both the plumbers-crack and muffin-top debacles that you sometimes get with lower-quality yoga pants.

Quality:
Again, while this fabric feels light and breathable when you wear it, it still has a respectable weight to it that makes me hopeful these leggings will last a long time. These leggings have the standard seams along the inseams and a second pair of seams along the backs of you calves and then curving along your backside. This could just be stylistic but, having had pairs of legging where the seams busted around the hips, my guess is the design is meant to allow a snug fit without straining the fabric too much in places where women are curvier. Either way, the seams appear to be reinforced and I haven’t found any fraying or loose threads yet so I’m optimistic.

Complaints/Concerns:
Nothing much to put here. I will say that the ‘pocket’ that they advertise isn’t even big enough to fit a credit card. I originally thought that a seam in the waistband had come undone for a few inches until I realized it was intended to hold things. Since these are yoga pants I can’t say I was expecting much in terms of pockets, though, so I will add that the design is sleek and almost unnoticeable and you can fit a key or two in it if you’re out running or holding on to a locker key.

Overall Impressions:
Big fan of these. I can’t wait to find more and more uses for them.

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