Sunday, January 31, 2016

Five Reasons to Fall In Love With Winter Hiking

It's no secret I love winter hiking. I don't have to worry about getting overheated like I do in the summer and it gets me off the couch and out of the house. It's definitely a fun way to cure cabin fever.

1. Great Way To Stay Warm In Winter

I know it sounds counterintuitive, right? I mean when there's snow and ice on the ground, it's cold. However,  with all of the moving I do hiking, I stay really warm without having to dress in heavy clothing either. Usually a nice running jacket with a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt underneath and a pair running tights or hiking pants is all I need. I always keep a little extra clothing and gear in my backpack just in case I get stuck. I don't want to freeze to death from lack of planning.

2. Not As Many Obstacles

Spring and summer trails always have rocks or tree branches to trip over.

Besides my trusty friend, I don't have to worry about tripping over anything. A good pair of snowshoes keeps me from sinking in the snow. Many of the popular trails are packed enough that I only need my boots.

3. Get Healthy and Stay Fit

When I discovered I could burn more calories in cooler temperatures than warmer ones, I thought I had hit the jackpot. Hiking is way more fun than hitting the gym and I get a caloric burn bonus. Yay!

4. Few People and Fewer Bugs

The trails near me are still busy enough during winter that I always see somebody but there aren't nearly as many people as spring and summer. Even better, I don't have to battle mosquitos, flies or those pesky gnats I swallow every time I open my mouth.

5. Amazing Views
You have to make it to the top or at least the saddle to get some of the most breathtaking views  but it's so worth it and the most rewarding thing about hiking.
Breathtaking view of Wasatch Mountains ©Trudy Zufelt

View of Salt Lake Valley from Mt. Olympus  ©Trudy Zufelt

Things to remember when hiking in winter:

  • Stay hydrated - Your body still sweats and needs liquid. It's tempting not to carry water but don't.
  • Stay fueled - Always carry some food even if you're not going to be gone long and eat during the hike. I always forget and lose steam close to the top.
  • Dress in layers - Carry a pack with extra clothes or just to have a bag to shed the extra clothes when you get too warm.
  • Don't disturb the wildlife - I've seen moose while hiking and with their size and strength, I'd rather not get too close.
  • Check the weather forecast - You don't want to get stuck on the top during a blizzard or find out the temperature just dropped 20-30 degrees and you're not prepared.
Leave a comment about what you love about winter hiking.

#JingleVoxBox From Influenster

Products received at no charge.

My favorite thing about being part of Influenster is the fun of getting a Vox Box in the mail. What is a Vox Box? A Vox Box is a box full of products that I get to try for free. Some products I've already tried and use like the Ore Ida Tater Tots I received in the form of a free product coupon. Some products I've never heard of like the Hallmark Itty Bittys. It's fun to open the box and discover what's inside. I don't have small children anymore so I got to give my Olaf Itty Bitty away to one of my nieces.

I was thrilled to get a travel size sample of Cetaphil. It's a brand I've tried in the past and love. Now I have the perfect size to take with me while I travel. I also loved getting some samples of Biscoff cookies. I don't usually eat them so it was a nice treat. I'll admit, there's always one product I don't fall in love with but it's still fun to try them anyway. I'm not a fan of false eyelashes so I would never have bought a set of the Kiss True Volume Lashes. I doubt I'll buy them again.

The NYC New York Color eyeliner pencil worked well enough that I would use it again and I like that I can find the brand at my local mass merchandiser. Thanks Influenster for letting me try the Jingle Vox Box. Now if they would only send me a box full of outdoor items to try.

Monday, January 25, 2016

ZestWear Calf Compression Sleeves Review and Giveaway

Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

I will be the first to admit running is not something I do everyday. I love to hike and cycle as much or more than I like to run and more often than I would like, I end up at the gym on an elliptical machine. No matter what I choose for exercise, I find that my calf muscles always end up fatigued. I started using compression socks and sleeves within the last year at the suggestion of my physician husband and have found they really help with my fatigued muscles.

 Even more important, is that compression sleeves help with the ankle swelling I get when I hike at high altitudes. I have tried many different brands of compression sleeves so I have a lot of experience in which to rate and compare the Zestwear Sleeves. I like my compression sleeves to have a tight enough fit to actually provide a good compression but not so tight that they're uncomfortable. These sleeves are perfect for my biggest requirement. I've never tried the graduated compression sleeves and I like these better than those that aren't They have more compression around the ankle which is really where I need it the most to help combat swelling during hikes.

While it's cold outside now, I don't want my compression sleeves so thick that they are hot and uncomfortable. I like to use them in warmer weather too. The Zestwear sleeves have just the right amount of thickness. They are light and have plenty of stretch to fit over my calves. I don't have stick thin calves like many runners so I always worry how compression products will fit. The medium size fit perfect and I wouldn't want to go any bigger.

I had no trouble with washing these sleeves. I would never put them in a hot dryer but I do wash them in cold water with like colors and fabrics and hang them to dry and they keep their shape and compression well. Overall, these have become my favorite pair of compression sleeves for the main reason of the graduated compression where I need it the most.

Rating: ★★★★★

This product can be purchased on Amazon. My readers can receive a 20% discount on Amazon until Feb. 8, 2016 by using the following codes:

 Code LP57AIVF for a 20% discount of size MED
 Code W8UUTY4S for size LARGE

Sweepstakes Details:

Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form and agree to them. No purchase necessary and void were prohibited. Contest ends Feb. 8, 2016 at 11:59 EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wuxian Ultra Light Telescopic Carbon Hiking Trekking Pole Review and Giveaway

Product received at no charge to facilitate review.

Unfortunately, my balance gets worse as I age. That can be scary when hiking on slick trails or in rocky areas. One thing that has really helped is the addition of a hiking pole. Sometimes, two poles are more than I need and can add an extra burden of one more thing to carry. I've found one works for balancing and a second is not necessary.

I've been looking for a lightweight carbon trekking pole to replace my aluminum poles but the cost has turned me off. One thing that always irks me about outdoor gear is paying a lot of money only to find that it is made in China. I always wondered if I could get gear for a lot less if I purchased it directly from China.

At Gear Best I can purchase outdoor gear at a fraction of the cost directly from China.  I wondered if the quality of the gear would be as good as some of the more recognizable brands.

What I found with the Wuxian Ultra Light Telescopic Carbon Trekking Pole is that I can get a solid outdoor product, comparable to a mid-range brand, at about 30-40% less than the cost of those midrange brands. Most outdoor retailers sell poles as a set while the Wuxian Pole is sold as a single item. This is great for me as I'm happy with one. For those who prefer a set, it's still cheaper to buy two at $15.32 per piece than it is to buy a mid-range brand elsewhere. 
The Wuxian Ultra Light Telescopic Pole is quite a bit lighter than my aluminum poles. I give it five stars based on weight. I am impressed with the suspension system which really does reduce vibration. As far as adjustability, the pole adjust for several heights which is nice when my husband wants to borrow it. The handle is covered in cork which makes a softer grip than plastic and it keeps my hand from slipping.
The only minor complaint I have is that the the pole has to be twisted to adjust in the open position and sometimes is hard to figure out how to lock it. Once I figured it out, I haven't had any problems and it does seem to hold the position well so far. 

Overall, I'm happy with my new trekking pole and hope to have many more mountain adventures with it. It's already kept me from several falls and I anticipate it's going to save me from several more.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sweepstakes Giveaway Details:

One of my lucky readers will win one trekking pole from Gear Best. Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the rules on the Rafflecopter form and agree to them. Sponsor is responsible for prize shipment and not blog owner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 22, 2016

Moscow Mule Copper Mugs by #TheKickingMule: REVIEW

Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.
I've seen copper mugs at some of my local retailers and I've been awestruck with them. They are really beautiful. The Moscow Mule Copper Mug by The Kicking Mule is no exception. I love the way it looks. I wish I had a some hooks in my kitchen as it would look really pretty as a set of four on display. The hammered texture adds to the beauty of the mug. It fits with my outdoorsy personality.

The Moscow Mug can only be used for cold drinks. I like the larger 16 oz. size. I've tried it with fresh squeezed lime aid and I love how the mug takes on the temperature of the drink which seems to keep the drink colder a little longer.

I also like that the mug does NOT give off a metallic taste as I feared it might. If anything, I think the my drinks taste refreshing in it. The mug can't be used in the dishwasher but can be cleaned with soap and warm water.


My readers can receive a 10% discount on this mug when purchased on Amazon. Use code 4JY4EVQ4 with the following link:


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Church Fork Peak Millcreek Canyon - 1 of 26 of New Year's Peak Goal

We wrote about our New Year's goal a few weeks ago and we are on our way to make it happen. Kalina's plan is to climb 26 peaks this year for her 26th year and and I plan on doing at least 16 of those. We rarely do them together and I'm letting her take the lead in getting the peaks done first. While most of our peaks will be in Utah because those re closest, we have plans to tackle a peak in Oregon together in the spring. Last week, we celebrated our first peak, Church Fork Peak in Millcreek Canyon, Utah.

The peak is just past the trees.
Though considered a minor peak in the Wasatch Mountains, Church Fork Peak is anything but easy in the winter. At an elevation of 8306 feet, I still managed to get altitude sickness on my first attempt. Kalina had no problem. With her friends, they cut the trail for me on my days later attempt.

The best peak access is from the Burch Hollow Trail and though the trail gets plenty of traffic during the winter making winter boots and microspikes sufficient, the turnoff to the peak will require snowshoes.

The peak is about 3.5 miles from the parking area for a total of 7 miles round trip. It's much easier to access during the spring and summer when the snow melts but makes a beautiful winter hike.

With an elevation gain of about 2300 feet, be prepared for a decent climb.

View of surrounding peaks from the peak
While it's tempting to start at the Church Fork Trailhead, don't. The Burch Hollow trailhead is shorter. and worth parking up the canyon a little higher. The parking lot is 3.6 miles past the pay booth on the north side of the road and the trailhead is well marked with a sign. Follow the Pipeline trail until the trail turns to a sharp right which takes you up the ridge line.

We made a left at the little Burch Hollow Trail sign about a mile and a half up the trail. It's a little hard to see. Also, the trail may or may not be packed down here so unless your familiar with the area, I wouldn't attempt this trail alone as not a lot of people make the turn. This is where snowshoes become necessary.

As always, the top of the peak provides awesome views of the other peaks in Millcreek Canyon. 

Stay tuned for peak number two.

This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sun Basket Organic Meals Home Delivery REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Product received at no charge to facilitate review.

I had never heard of Sun Basket before so I wasn't sure what to expect. The website menu looked divine and the concept of getting the fixings for three fresh meals a week delivered to my door sounded like a dream come true. I do like preparing meals at home but I have a hard time trying to come up with the ideas and hate the shopping. Sun Basket solves my two main problems by providing great ideas through their organic menu and does the shopping for me. All I had to do was pick three meals. This was actually harder than I thought as I had a hard time narrowing it down to three as so many things sounded great. The three meals were shipped right to my doorstep in the most awesome packed box with plenty of ice to keep the food fresh and a nice way to send it back.

The first meal I cooked for my family was the Roasted Salmon with spinach couscous and date-apple salad. Include with my meal was a nice glossy card with a photo of what it should look like when finished and easy to understand cooking instructions.

I usually bomb at getting my food to look anything like the pictures but mine was pretty close except for the couscous.

Our first meal turned out fabulous. Even my teenage son loved the salmon and the date-apple salad was a great addition and something different I've never tried. Though the meals are made to feed two people, we had enough to feed three but only because we're not big eaters.

The Steak with Purple Sweet Potato and Roasted-pepper Sauce   turned out well too. Both my spouse and I really liked this one and it was really easy to prepare.

The portion sizes were just right. In fact, I ended up sharing my meat with a third person. I've never had a purple sweet potato before and it was so good.

We also got to try the Kale, Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup. Though I'm not including photos, it's not because we didn't like it. In fact, we loved it. I always have a hard time finding good soup that is not cream based. This soup is something I would definitely eat again.

When ordering through Sun Basket, I love how each recipe specifies if it is dairy free, gluten free, etc. for those of us with food intolerances. I also love that every part of the meal is fresh. The meat is free from antibiotics and comes from grass fed animals. I also like having a vegetarian option as we try not to eat meat every day.

When I first looked at the $68.94 price for delivery for three meals, I thought it seemed a little high but then I did the math of all of the times I buy an ingredient for one meal, only use a little of it and throw the rest away and realize that I often spend quite a bit more than this at the grocery store for three meals with a lot of waste. With Sun Basket I don't have to worry about wasting food and feeling guilty about it. Also, if I only feed two with my meals, I sometimes have just enough leftover to take for lunch the following day which saves on eating out.

My experience with Sun Basket has been exceptional. The customer service is superb. The packaging and assembly of the meals exceeded my expectations and the taste of the meals was excellent.

Rating ★★★★★

Giveaway Details

Sun Basket has generously agreed to give one of my lucky readers a Sun Basket with three meals delivered to your door. Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms and agree to them. All who enter will receive a special offer of $30 their first purchase at Sun Basket at the end of the contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ace Teah Slim Premium #iPadMin4 Case REVIEW

Product received at no charge to facilitate review.

When I'm not at work, working out, or enjoying the outdoors, I'm inside writing about it. I recently received a new iPad Mini 4 so I could have a portable device with a screen bigger than my phone for easier reading and updating my blog and social media. While I already have a regular iPad, I found it too heavy for reading while lying down. 

It took me a few tries to get a case for my iPad Mini 4. I bought one that was supposed to fit and had to return it because it didn't. I jumped at the chance to review the Ace Teah iPad Mini 4 Case. To my relief, the case fit perfect unlike the one I had purchased for twice the price. All of the cutouts are in the right place for my iPad Mini 4 so I don't have to take it in and out of the case to use it.

The inside of the case has a nice hands and a sturdy pull out to set up my iPad on a desktop or table. The leather material is soft and durable. I'm always dropping my electronic devices so I need covers that will protect them, not just ones that look good. I've already dropped by iPad mini 4 with the cover on and luckily no damage to the iPad or the cover.  

While I care more about functionality and protection than looks, I do like the color and look of the Ace Teah iPad case. 

I'm happy with my case and the price is a lot cheaper than the cases I found at the retail stores near me. I would definitely recommend this case to my readers and would be happy to purchase one from the same seller again when the need arises.

Rating ★★★★★

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Favorite Outdoor Gadgets of #CES2016

I make the trek to the Consumer Electronics Show whenever I can and this year was no exception. As always, my favorite area of the show was located at the Venetian in the wearables technology room. I can always find plenty of outdoor gadgets to get me excited enough to want to try something new.

When choosing favorites, I look beyond the latest and greatest technology. I look at functionality and how practical it would be in my life. I'm starting with my favorite. I don't like to save the best for last.

1. For the Winter Sports Enthusiast

  Digitsole - Heated Insoles

My husband had the concept for these in his head a long time ago. Too bad we wouldn't have acted upon his idea. These insoles replace the insoles in your existing shoe but have a heating element built in. The heater is controlled through a smartphone application. I would love a pair of these to try while skiing. I could turn them on while riding the ski lift and turn them off while skiing. I would want to ski more if I knew my feet would always be warm.

2. For the Cyclist or Runner

Visijax - Lighted Safety Jackets

Visijax was actually my all time favorite product at CES2015 but I didn't post about it so I have to include it this year. This jacket lights up to make night riding safer. The really cool thing is that when you raise your arm to signal a turn, the jacket on the arm blinks to alert those behind you that you are turning. They make belts and backpacks too but I love the jacket. Safety is always a big issue when riding outside and as an avid cyclist, I would love to own one of these. Besides finding these on their website, I have also seen this on Amazon. Would be great for other sports as well.

3. For the Swimmer

           Marlin by Platysens

Even though I'm just a casual swimmer and don't go often, I'm always looking for a wearable device at CES that will track laps, time, and speed. This is the first year I've found a device that would really work well for swimming. No more looking at your watch or slowing laps down to look at the pool clock. The Marlin hooks on the back of your swim goggles and has a waterproof earphone that tells you your speed and counts your laps. When paired with the smartphone app,  your coach can access your stats too.

4. For the Runner and Cyclist

Kuai Biometric Headphones

Runners get the gold at CES 2016. There are so many wearables for running that it's hard to even get them covered. From wristbands to GPS watches, runners have whatever their hearts desire. What makes the Kuai Biometric Headphones a stand out product is that you can listen to your music and keep track of your heart rate at the same time. You can download professional training plans and can even get live coaching voice feedback. The cool thing about these headphones is that they can me used by cyclists and swimmers too. Cyclists can connect to their bike sensor using ANT+ and listen to live performance data. Pair it with the smartphone app to keep track of every workout.

5. For the Water Sport Adventurist

      Kymera Body Board

The Kymera Body Board is an electric jet board you lay or sit on that goes up to 20 miles per hour. Think Jet Ski or Wave Runner without the trailer. This looks like a blast. I would love to have one at our next Lake Powell trip. I hope they found the financing they needed to get these things produced. I'd definitely like to save my money for one.

6.  For the Travel Enthusiast  

Smart Luggage Lock by eGeeTouch

For those times I travel to have an adventure, it's nice to have a smart luggage lock that can be unlocked through my smartphone. But what I really like about their new lock is that it is unlocked through my fingerprint. No codes to remember and no keys to carry. I would only use this on my carry on as it seems TSA always chooses my checked bag to go through and I would hate for them to break it.

7. For the Cyclist
Orbitrec by Cerevo 

Okay, I admit, I love the concept of having the world's first connected 3D printed bike but I know I would never pay the money to have one of these made. The frame is manufactured with 3D printed titanium and bridged with carbon fiber tubes. It has built in sensors that record data and can send it to your smartphone. It can alert the rider when there are dangerous riding conditions ahead and will even send out a message to a friend if the rider crashes.

8. For the Ski Racer
Smart Ski Airbag Vest by INĂ©MOTION

Last but not least is something I will never use because I'm not a ski racer but I had to put it on my list for the innovative way it will save lives. I was a volunteer at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City on the downhill ski course. Those ski racers put all they have into their races and can reach speeds up to 90 miles per hour. If they fall, they get hurt bad. The Smart Ski Airbag has technology that senses a skiers position and can tell when they are out of control. This activates the airbag which inflates before the skier hits the ground, thus providing protection in crucial body areas. While only available to professional skiers, the product will be available to all ski racers starting summer of 2016.

Post may contain affiliate links.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Outdoor Goals For a New Year: 16 and 26 Peaks

Photo Credit Copyright: Kalina Zufelt

I hadn't really put much thought into a New Year's Resolution. Every year it's the same for me. I can always stand to lose a few pounds and get into better shape. Even though I do work out about five days a week, I'm slow because of my excess weight.

I had a chance on New Year's Day to listen to Kalina talk out loud about her New Year's Resolution. She wants to run or hike twenty-six peaks. Yes, that's climbing to the top of twenty-six mountains. I was immediately struck at how passionate my daughter has become at living life to its fullest. I'm sure her time fighting ovarian cancer has renewed her spirit and made her realize now is the time to live. It has given me a chance to reflect on my own goals and realize that I'm going about them all wrong.

Goals and resolutions shouldn't be about the end product. They should be about the journey. If I set the same goal to climb as many peaks as Kalina, I would easily get in shape and probably drop a few pounds but I wouldn't have the obsessiveness of getting on the scale every day, about planning exercises I don't always enjoy, or about counting calories instead of having a good time.

I've changed my outlook for this year. I may not be able to do twenty six peaks but I know I can do at least ten. I'm going a different direction this year with my resolution. I'm going up. I'm going to catch the views some people only see in photos. I'm going to feel the wind in my hair and smell fresh pine. I'm going to watch sunrise and sunsets. I'm going dodge rattlesnakes and stare in awe at deer and moose. I'm going to live from the trails instead of my chair. 
Photo Copyright: Trudy Zufelt

We can't wait to chronicle our peaks. Join us this year. Tell us what you'll be doing for your outdoor goals in our comments section.