Saturday, June 14, 2014

Life Straw Walter Filter Review and Giveaway

FTC Disclosure: Product received at no charge to facilitate review.

For of us who have been on a long hike and have been in the situation where we have sucked the last of our water from our bottle or water bladder and still have several long, hot miles ahead, can relate to the anxiety that ensues. Even worse, is when that hike involves stream crossings with cold, clear water tempting enough to drink. Yet we know that great tasting water will make us very sick, leaving us to choose between the greater risk of dehydration or waterborne illness.

Lifestraw® personal water filter makes it possible to drink from that mountain stream when our water supply runs low or even when we just want a cold drink from the spring run off.

I had a chance to try Lifestraw® in action. It is super easy to use. All I had to do was fill up my water bottle and drink through the straw. It does take a little sucking action to get the water to pull up through the straw. The Lifestraw fit easily in my BPA free bottle. However, it will not fit inside the disposable water bottles as the openings are too small. Therefore, I would recommend using a reusable water bottle.

The Lifestraw® requires no electrical power nor is it battery operated. Instead, it works by user-generated suction. The filter is inside that straw and is made with durable plastic that holds up packed inside my hiking pack. It also has a strap to carry over your shoulder or can be strapped to a pack. The straw can filter up to 1,000 liters of water, ensuring me it will last several summers of hiking and backpacking. The filter uses a hollow fiber micro filtration technology which can remove 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and 99.99 of waterborne protozoan cysts. This means it will filter them out, not kill them. In Utah, where  I live, our mountain streams have tested positive for Giardia and other bacteria. I have had the misfortune of drinking from a stream without filtering the water and know how very sick one can get from it. There is no way I am willing to spend a week on a porcelain throne to have a few joyous minutes of cold, mountain water ever again.

I love how easy it is to use the Lifestraw®. What I even love more is that it hardly takes any space in my backpack and adds very little weight. At 2 ounces, it is well worth adding to my day pack. However, for longer backpacking trips, I would recommend using it only as a back up system. Since the filter works through suction, it is not possible to treat a large amount of water for refilling water bladders. While it is possible to tip it upside down and maybe fill a cup, it would take a lot longer than other methods.

No matter what type of filtration system I bring with me on backpacking trips, I will ALWAYS keep the Lifestraw in my pack as a back up. It would be foolish not to with how little space it takes and with how little it costs.

In fact, it wasn't long ago, I took a wrong turn on a trail, ended up 5 miles out of the way. While I brought plenty of drinking water, I worried at the tail end of my hike, I wouldn't have enough. I will have more peace of mind carrying this simple filter with me. It is well worth the $20.00 the product retails for.

I am impressed with the company's efforts to bring safe drinking water to school children in Africa. For every item purchased, a portion of the sale goes to supply filters for those in desperate need of clean drinking water. I am always on the lookout for companies that give back to the community and protect the environment.

Things I love about the Lifestraw®:
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Works well in mountain streams
  • Cold water at my disposal
  • Filters the bacteria that can cause illness
  • Easy to clean
  • Company gives back
Only drawbacks:
  • Can't use it to refill water bladders
  • Not effective against viruses
Want to find out more about Lifestraw?  Visit their website or Facebook pages.

Contest Details:

One of my lucky readers will win a Lifestraw® personal water filter. Contest is open to U.S. residents only. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form and agree to them. Contest ends July 3, 2014 at 11:59 EST.

FTC Disclosure: The LifeStraw® product and information have been provided by Vestergaard.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Product Review: Shandali Ultrasport Towel

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I am always looking to save room in my suitcase and backpack. I've found the best way to save space is to find products made with lightweight or space saving fabrics.

The  Shandali UltraSport Travel Towel not only has the space saving feature I look for when hiking and backpacking but works well in other areas as well.

The microfiber material is lightweight and adds little precious weight to my pack. However, that isn't  the only thing I look for. I want a towel that I can half wet and leave half dry so I can wipe all of the salty sweat off and still have a corner of the towel to dry my face. The Shandali towel is large enough to work perfectly for that purpose but not so large that it feels bulky.

I have to admit, that I don't always like bringing a towel when hiking. The biggest reason is that cotton towels take forever to dry. They're not easy to hang from my backpack and I hate putting a wet towel inside of my pack which makes everything else wet. The Shandali towel has a sturdy hook that I can easily strap onto the outside of my pack. I was amazed at how fast the Shandali towel dries. In less than an hour, the towel was completely dry just from hiking in the sun and it wasn't even a particularly hot day.

The 100% microfiber material is not only compact, but it feels soft to the skin. It is almost like a chamois feel but even a bit softer. I liked this for face washing. Nothing is worse than a towel that feels scratchy on the face, especially when washing off salt crystals. The Shandali towel had no rough feeling at all and worked well to wipe of the dirt, sweat and salt crystals at the end of my hikes. It rinses well in a mountain stream but I would definitely recommend washing it after a few hikes. I would not recommend using fabric softeners with microfiber as it would tend to clog the fibers.

I also like the Shandali towel for travel. It fits easily inside of my suitcase and works well if heading to the beach. The last time I traveled, I had to find a store so I could buy cheap cotton towel to take to the beach. However, the next time I will bring the Shandali towel. It is big enough to sit on at the beach and easy to clean.

While the price of the Shandali towel might seem high compared to a cotton towel, I didn't think it was bad compared to my other hiking and backpacking gear. Not only is it cheaper than some of my other gear, the quality and durability make it well deserving of a five star review.

Rating:  ★★★★★

This product can be purchased through the following retailer:


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hikes In Utah: Beus Canyon Great Western Trail

 Difficulty: Strenous
Length: 11.2 miles out and back to saddle
Location: Top of 46th Street in Ogden Utah

I have been hiking portions of the Great Western Trail to get ready for a week long backpacking trip in which my son and I will follow the Great Western Trail from Salt Lake (Brighton) to the Idaho border. One of the strenuous portions I have hiked so far is Beus Canyon in Ogden Utah.

The trail head is at the top of 46th street in Ogden. There is a small parking lot at the trail head but no restroom facilities. The trail is well marked.

For the first two miles, the hike follows the stream in various spots and passes through lush vegetation.

Just before the two mile mark, the trail passes over the stream one last time and heads south. The trail is rocky and steep even in various spots along the way. Also, I saw a huge rattlesnake near the stream so be careful where you step and stay on the trail. The Division of Wildlife Resources warns of rattlesnakes along this trail and cautions they are especially common in the rocks of the cairns near prevalent after mile four.

Traveling south along the trail after just after the two mile mark, awesome views of the Ogden Valley appear.

At mile about mile three, scrub bushes nearly cover the trail. I was grateful for long hiking pants along this portion of the trail as the bushes were dense and scraped along my legs.

At four miles, the trail becomes barren and exposed. It is also rocky and steep. Luckily, I found a small spring runoff as I had nearly finished two quarts of water. I was able to use my filter to treat the water for a nice, cold treat. Don't plan on finding this in the hot summer.

Last hill toward tower on peak of Mt. Ogden.

At five miles, the peak is just around a rocky bend but still a tough climb toward the tower at the peak of Mt. Ogden. This is also the Snowbasin access road which drops down into Snowbasin and is where the Great Western Trail continues on. At this point, climb up to the tower and turn around for a long day hike.
Overlooking Snowbasin and Ogden Valley

The trail is strenuous and I would suggest bringing hiking poles. Not only will they help with the steep, rocky parts of the trail, but the noise from the poles will scare away the rattlesnakes. I would also suggest carrying plenty of water. Two quarts will not be enough on a hot day. Allow for six to ten hours day hike depending on your hiking abilities.  There are virtually no flat parts of the trail and the hills really slowed me down. For those who don't want the workout, the first two miles make a beautiful out and back. Even in late spring, snow patches are present at the upper elevations so be prepared.


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