Friday, January 31, 2014

Our First Giveaway: Neova Sunscreen and Lip Complex

**FTC Disclosure: Product and information provided by sponsor. 

Let's face it. 
Spending time outdoors during the winter can be hard on our skin. In the summertime, it's easy to remember to use sun screen. In the winter, not so much. Did you know that UV radiation exposure increases at higher altitudes? Snow can reflect UV radiation into shaded areas. This means that hat you use for sun protection isn't enough in snowy areas. With these facts in mind, sunny ski days can leave your face burned as badly as a summer day.

When our office started carrying Neova products, I tried most of them. I have a few favorites so I've teamed up with the boss to give them away.

Neova Damage Control Tri-Silc Sheer (SPF 40)

This is a great sunscreen for the outdoors. I hate the smell of sunscreen but this one isn't as strong as many of the others on the market. It has a tint to it so it helps to smooth out the complexion as well. However, the tint is sheer so it doesn't leave a noticeable color like foundation does. It protects against UVA and UVB rays. 
(ARV $40)

Neova Cu3 Intensive Lip Repair 

The Neova Cu3 Intensive Lip Repair is not a sunscreen but an ultra-nourishing lip moisturizer that helps repair the damaging effects of the sun and wind. It leaves my lips feeling smooth. I use it often indoors.
(ARV $22)

Contest Details
We're giving away both products to help you take care of your outdoor winter skin. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form an agree to them. Contest open to USA and Canada only. Must be 18 or older to enter. Ends 2/16/2014 at 11:59 EST
Prize value ARV $62.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 30, 2014

RAV Power: 4-Port Wall Charger and Power Bank Review

**FTC Disclosure: Products received at no charge to facilitate review**

4-Port Wall Charger

I love to travel any chance I can get.
Recently, my spouse and I traveled to Las Vegas for the CES show. Between the two of us, we had quite a few electronic devices which needed to be charged.
Unfortunately, the hotel we stayed in only had two wall plugs, not enough to charge our six electronic devices. When I returned home, I was lucky enough to find the RAV Power 4-USB Port Wall Charger. Now I can charge four electronic products at once. The wall charger is light weight and compact. It fits easily in my carry on backpack. It is great for traveling. With an AC 110-220v input, it will work for international travel as well.
The charger easily handles my iPhone, iPad, iPod, and my camera without overheating or putting a power surge on my outlet.The price of $19.99 is reasonable. I like that the cord is detachable so I can wrap it and put it in bag with my other USB cords. I also like that I can charge all of my devices in one place. Before I had them spread over two rooms or messing up two counter tops. It's great to keep it down to one. The four rubber feet keep it from slipping off counter tops and desks.

Two of the ports are labeled 2.1A for tablets and and the other two are 1A for smartphones, cameras or mp3 players. With all four ports in use, my devices charge fully overnight, even when the battery is completely run down. 

I have a new traveling companion and recommend getting one just like it.

RAV Power: External Battery Pack Power Bank

I have found the backpacker's friend.
The RAV Power External Battery Pack Power Bank packs a big punch in a compact unit. making it perfect for traveling. Nothing is worse than sitting in an airport and having the electronic device you have your reading material on die. Or worse, getting off a plane and finding your phone battery dead and unable to call a ride. The RAV Power battery pack solves both problems. 

I was surprised at how much power the battery pack contains. The pack has four blue indicator lights. I charged my iPhone from 10% to 100% in a little over two hours. The Rav Power pack still had three lights after my first charge. My second charge was my son's iPhone which went from 20% to 100% in a little over an hour and a half. I still had two bars of power. I was able to charge my camera with the last two bars from less than 50% to 100%. With a full battery pack, I charged my iPad about 23% and still had one bar left on the charger. I didn't expect it to work at all on the higher power tablet. 

The power pack is about the size and weight of a cell phone. It can be carried in a backpack or a pocket without adding much extra weight. With as many as three cell phone charges off one battery pack charge, it would be reliable for a weekend backpacking or business trip. A great emergency back up for travel and home.

The only problem I had was forgetting to push the button to start the charge. Not a product defect, just my brain defect. Pushing the button twice turns on the LED flashlight. The light is bright enough for basic needs. The battery did not come with a USB plug but works with the standard plug that comes with electronic devices. It is well worth the $25 price tag. I highly recommend the RAV Power Bank.

**I received both products at no charge to facilitate my review. No monetary compensation was received. My opinion is based upon actual experience.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A View From The Top

Top of Grandeur Peak in Millcreek Canyon

Every new year, I make the ridiculous resolution that I'm going to lose weight. Some years I do. However, most of my failures boil down to one thing, chocolate. I have a hard time giving up my last food weakness. I've always said if I would stop eating chocolate, I would be skinny.

This year, I gave up on the usual resolution. Sure I can lose weight if I really wanted to. Big deal. What I learned over the last year and a half of watching my daughter battle cancer is that life is meant to be lived. Counting calories is not fun. Instead, I decided that I needed to stop fretting about my weight, get outside more and start living. I live a few short miles away from a wonderland of mountain trails and ski resorts. This winter I made a resolution I would get out and enjoy them at least twice a week. My loftiest New Year's Resolution is to hike the Great Western Trail from Brighton, Utah to the Idaho border. Hopefully I won't have to go solo, but I will if I can't find a hiking partner. This means I must hike a little over a hundred miles in a week to ten days. Not bad if I were in my twenties, but pretty tough at middle age. So though June seems far away, if I want to be in shape for my backpacking trip, I have to start now.

Luckily, I have run enough marathons to know you don't just show up and run. Lofty goals must be backed up with sound training techniques. Thus, I have packed a bag and taken up winter hiking. Of course, mountain trails in winter take more than a good pair of hiking boots. I have a pair of snowshoes that are quickly becoming my friend. For the woman who hates cold, snowshoeing and hiking in the cold keeps me quite warm and feels amazingly invigorating. For once, I am loving my New Year's resolution. It's not hard to keep doing something I love.

The ironic thing about my new resolution is that it may help me achieve my weight loss goals in a round about way. While I am huffing and puffing up the mountain in my endeavor to reach the top, I am burning extra calories. I'm also making a conscious effort to pack healthy trail snacks and stay away from junk food. It's amazing how my body craves my protein recovery drink and recoils at the thought of french fries.

I'm getting used to the view from the top of the mountains. It makes me feel like I'm on top of the world and can conquer anything. I'll be chronicling my training and hike on this blog so stay tuned. I've already started my list of gear I will need for my backpacking trip.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Skiing in Utah; Snowbird Ski Resort

Okay, I'll admit it. Sometimes, I hate divulging where the locals like to alpine ski in Utah. It's self serving. Let the tourists go to the well known ski resorts and keep the lift lines down at the place I love, Snowbird Ski Resort. Great skiing and other outdoor activities are the reason I have made my home in Utah. I can always travel to other great U.S. cities for beaches with an ocean view, but I love my mountain view out my back window the best. I've lost track of how many years I've been skiing. All I know is that I was very young the first time I got on skis. One thing I do know. Utah's slogan of having the greatest snow on earth is pretty accurate. There's something about the "lake effect" snow that makes a powder day, or any Utah ski day, almost paradise.     
 Follow the arrows to Snowbird Ski Resort where things might be a bit Bassackwards.

Gad Valley: What Saturday lift lines?
Everyday can't be a powder day which is okay with me. I'm not as young as I once was and I like blue skies, sunshine and packed snow too. The nice thing about Snowbird Ski Resort is even when I feel like taking it a little easier, there are still lots of challenging runs for the die hard skiers in the family, all on the same hill. That way we can ride up the lifts together, but find the terrain that makes us all happy. Our family motto has always been: A family that plays together, stays together. That's why we introduced our children early to the winter sports we love. My daughter, Kalina, will take on any of the guys at skiing and probably beat them.

Living in the Salt Lake Valley, we are literally less than 30 minutes from four ski resorts. Where else can you ski all day and still be home by dark? While we love all four of the Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts, we especially love Snowbird. There is the challenging terrain of the black diamonds, what we like to refer to as "steep and deep" and also the green and blue diamond runs we need to teach new recruits. When the powder's deep and we're not patient enough to teach a new recruit, there's always Snowbird Ski School. I've watched the Snowbird ski instructors and all I can say is they are way more patient than I am.

Besides great terrain, Snowbird has more to offer. Though we live close, we have stayed at the Cliff Lodge, on the mountain. Don't let the name fool you. It isn't a little lodge, but a full service hotel with restaurants from pizza and Mexican to fine dining at the Aerie Restaurant. My favorite part of staying at the Cliff Lodge is the outside rooftop swimming pool and hot tub. I know what you're thinking. Why would you want an outside swimming pool in the freezing cold? The pool is heated comfortably. It's great fun swimming while it's snowing outside. No, I'm really not out of my mind. It's even better when you run in your bare feet from the pool to the hot tub. Well, maybe the bare feet isn't fun, but it's the whole idea and atmosphere. You've got to try everything once.

Mineral Basin

Park City area behind us (Mineral Basin)

As for me, don't look too hard. I'll be hiding from the crowds on the solitary slopes I don't want to tell you about.

View from the top

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Favorite Outdoor Gadgets of CES 2014

I am happy to say I survived my ride on the E-Go Cruiser  electric skateboard by Yuneec Technologies. Okay, I admit, it's obvious I'm not a skateboarder. However, I never pass up the chance to try new things, even if I don't make it out of the parking lot. The E-Go Cruiser  was a lot of fun and the propulsion gave me a smooth ride. 

For those who worry that an electric skateboard won't get your heart rate up, let me assure you, the first time on it will definitely send your heart racing. Though I had a lot of fun trying it out, I have to admit, it's not my favorite gadget from CES. 

My first trip to the International Electronic Show was a bit daunting. I am no techie. However, I am always looking for gadgets to make my outdoor activities better. So I spent my time searching for the best outdoor gadgets.

#1 Aftershokz Earphones

For The Cyclist

Yes, I had to start with my favorite and anyone who knows me will not be shocked that it has something to do with bicycling. Although my choice is great for multi sports too. I know you're probably wondering  why I would choose a set of earphones when there are so many on the market. The Aftershokz Headphones aren't just any headphones. They use bone conduction technology so you don't have to put them in your ears to hear your music. Instead, the earphones are placed above your ears and the music is conducted through the bones. What is so exciting for cyclists is that your ears are still free to hear the cars coming up behind you. I rarely ride with earphones and if I do, I only use the one on my right side, leaving the left side open to hear traffic. The Aftershokz Earphones leave both ears open. I'm not advocating listening to music at the expense of safety but these earphones, used at the right volume can make those long rides feel faster. I had a chance to try them at the show and the sound is absolutely amazing.

#2 Enerplex Packr and Kikr1

For the Backpacker

I have a week long backpacking trip planned to hike the Great Western Trail to Idaho this upcoming summer. I have been looking for a solar panel to keep my cell phone charged. I came across Enerplex Solar Panels at the show. Though my photo shows the Packr with the solar panel already inserted, I liked the Kikr II product better. The portable solar panel can attach to my backpack and can be folded up when not in use. It can charge a cell phone with five hours of sunlight. Great for those who want the security of having a way to contact the working world while enjoying nature.

#3 TomTom Multisport GPS Watch

For the Runner, Biker, and Swimmer 

At the electronics show, I was in GPS watch overload. Between all of the smartphone apps, fitness devices and GPS gadgets out there, I wondered how I would ever find one that stood out. I have to admit that I use my iPhone with my Map My Ride app most of my rides. However, I don't love using my phone as my GPS while I am riding. It runs my battery down and it has completely killed my battery on rides over five hours. I set out specifically looking for a GPS watch that would handle long rides, and would give me my speed and distance.  The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch stood out. I didn't get a chance to actually use it but I did get a chance to scroll through it. One of the things I liked about it is that it could be removed from the watch band and mounted directly onto the handlebars of my bike so that I could keep track of my cadence without looking at my wrist. It also keeps track of laps for swimming and running so it's the perfect training partner for the triathlete. Though I saw better GPS watches for running, the TomTom worked well for biking and swimming which made it a better investment.

#4 Garmin Fēnix 

For the Hiker and Backpacker

For my weeklong hike of the Great Western Trail, I want a GPS device that will give me GPS coordinates as I hike so that I can write a trail guide for others. I looked at a lot of GPS devices and though the Garmin products are some of the most expensive, they are also the brand with the best features. My favorite is the Garmin Fēnix. While a cell phone app can give me all of the GPS functions I need, it only works when I am near a cell phone tower. For those who hike in the backcountry, that is not enough. I don't like carrying a heavy device. When weight is an issue, the Garmin Fēnix is perfect. The Fēnix is equipped with a barometer, a compass, an altimeter and a temperature sensor. It can also mark up to 1,000 waypoints and store 10,000 track points and has an exclusive TraBack® feature that reverses your track log so you won't get lost. Now if there were only a way I could convince Garmin to sponsor my week long solo hike. A much more reliable product to hike the backcountry than my smart phone.

#5 LongZY Wearable Sports Camera

For the Skier

While the GoPro® seems to be king of the outdoor sports video cameras, there are a lot of others on the market. A company called LongZY out of China makes some video cameras built into ski goggles. For me, it would be easier to run a camera from my googles than one mounted on my helmet. They also make a camera mounted into swim goggles and sports glasses for multi-sport options. I have no idea how well the camera works but it is a great idea.

#6 ōlloclip

For All Outdoor Enthusiasts

I didn't ignore the smartphone accessories. One of my favorites was the ōlloclip 4 in 1 Photo Lens. I didn't get to try the lens but I did see it. Having extra lenses for the phone I already carry on my outdoor adventures seems like a great idea. It will allow me to take better photos without carrying an extra camera and the lenses are so small, they can fit in my pocket.

#7 Pump HD Sportsbuds 
For the Runner

No more dropped phones or ear buds that fall out during a run. The Pump HD Sportbuds by Blue Ant debuted at CES. I like that the earphones have built in bluetooth and with play music up to eight hours. You can download your music right into the earpiece so you don't have to have a lot of extra parts. They wrap around your ear which secures them in place easier. They are also waterproof so you can use them for swimming as well. A great way to enjoy your music without wearing an armband or a clip to your running shorts. I didn't get a chance to listen to hear how clearly the music plays but I assume with today's technology, it would have to work well to compete with all of the other products on the market.

#8 PawsCam

For Your Best Outdoor Friend

I'm sure you've always wondered what you're best friend is up to when your not around. Now you can find out. The PawsCam is a motioned activated camera that takes photos of the things your dog is doing while you're not around. The only thing I wish this did is had a remote access speaker that would allow me to scold at the bugger when he gets into trouble.

**I did not receive anything from any company mentioned in this post. However, this post contains affiliate links.**

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Welcome to Our Outdoor World

It's been almost twenty years since my husband finished his residency in the Chicago area. At that time, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I wanted to return to my home state of Utah to be closer to family and to raise my own growing family in a great state for outdoor adventures. I remember some of our friends and colleagues in Chicago wondering out loud why on earth anybody would want to move to Utah. To them it was a place in the middle of nowhere with no diversity and nothing to do. I always let them think that. It's nice when the world you love is not too crowded.

Twenty years later, with my children mostly grown, I look back and am happy we raised our children in Utah and taught them to love the outdoors. In fact, my daughter, Kalina, loves the outdoors more than any of us. For this reason, we have chosen to collaborate and write a blog about our adventures. We will feature all the activities and outdoor products we love. Both of us have exciting adventures planned and we can't wait to share our preparation as well as our photos in the hopes that our readers will learn to love life like we do.

Snow Bunny? NOT! This girl can rip it like one of the guys.

Kalina loves anything she tries. Fortunately for her, she ends up being good at them too. The activities she writes about include, skiing, snowshoeing, rock climbing, running, waterskiing, hiking, backpacking, traveling and more. I know she wishes she could be outside every day but work does get in the way. I bet she wishes she could find a way to get paid to do what she loves.

As for me, I know I don't have the same enthusiasm and zest for life as my daughter, but I still love to try new things but stick with my tried and true favorites as well. I love hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing, and skiing. I tolerate waterskiing and running for the chance to be outdoors and with my family. I just learned to rappel and can't wait to do some canyoneering. I hope to talk Kalina into teaching me some rock climbing moves. My husband thinks my idea of camping is in a hotel or nice trailer. I surprised him this past fall when I hiked to the bottom of Havasupai, slept two nights in a hammock and hiked back out. I returned home telling everyone what a great time I had. I tried to hide the fact that my feet were full of blisters. I do like camping, just don't let my hubby know I said it.

I've spent many winters moping around wishing the snow would melt so I could get on my bike. This winter I made a goal to hike/snowshoe at least twice a week and have fun skiing too. It sure takes away the winter blues.

We're excited to share our adventures with our readers. Guess what? I'm checking out the cool outdoor gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week and can't wait to share my finds here. In the meantime, Kalina will show up soon to introduce herself.