My Favorite Women’s Snowboarding Gear

This year in November I celebrated my eighth “Tahoe-iversary”, and I realized that I’ll be embarking on my 9th season of snowboarding this winter! Learning to snowboard as an adult was not without its challenges, but I’m at a point where I’m confident with my skills. Over my years of snowboarding, I’ve figured out some of my gear must haves.

Women Snowboarding Gear Guide // tahoefabulous.com

Baselayers
I love layering up – you can control exactly how much insulation you’re wearing and can always shed a layer if you overheat. I tend to get really warm when I exercise, so I tend to keep my baselayers on the lighter side. Plus, the weather in Tahoe tends to be warmer than resorts in the rockies or east coast. A good rule of thumb is that you feel a little chilly standing in the parking lot, as you’ll warm up from exertion.

My favorite base layer bottoms are the Stoic Merino Blend ($35 – $70) that you can frequently find on sale on backcountry.com or steepandcheap.com. I tried the more expensive SmartWool Women’s Merino 150 Baselayer, ($80) and while they are high quality and soft, they are way too short for me at 5’11”. If you are under 5’8” or so, you might have better luck.

Snowboarding Gear for Women // tahoefabulous.com
Sugar Bowl Resort on a Powder Day

On top, I start with a really long, fitted tank top that I can tuck into my ski pants, like this one from Athleta ($20). The tank I usually wear is one I found at Marshall’s years ago – it’s a “fashion” tank instead of a workout one (like this one from Amazon $15), but it works just fine. Next I go for a long sleeved baselayer. If it’s a warmer day, I usually wear a SmartWool Women’s Merino 250 Hoody ($130) or the lightweight Patagonia Capilene Zip Neck ($59). Note: Capeline starts smelling really badly when you sweat in it, so that’s something to keep in mind. If it’s colder out, Patagonia R1 fleece is a great heavier baselayer. It comes in a Pullover, Hooded Pullover, and a full zip version. I ended up buying the men’s version, and it actually fits me in arm length, so that’s an option if you have longer arms (I found it’s not too tight in the hips, which is an issue I’ve had with other men’s jackets).

Snowboarding Gear for Women // tahoefabulous.com
Catching (a tiny bit of) air. Photo by Greyson Howard

Outerwear
Being dry and a reasonable temperature (not too cold or hot) goes a long way towards a fun day on the mountain. I tend to like having lots of coat options – I haven’t found a coat that can take me from a warm, spring day to a wet, cold and windy day. If it’s snowing or raining, I wear a raincoat (sized up) over a down coat or vest. For a truly waterproof raincoats, I’ve been very happy with my Patagonia Torrentshell ($129). I’ve also had good experience with Marmot raincoats, and the Marmot Phoenix Jacket ($250). For down, I have the Marmot Aruna Down Vest ($140) and the Aruna Hoodie ($150).
Patagonia has an array of nice synthetic options, if you want to avoid down. On really warm days, I’ll often just wear a baselayer and my Aruna vest, but if I’m worried about the wind I’ll grab a softshell. I have an awesome softshell hoody from Icebreaker that they don’t seem to make any more, unfortunately. The Patagonia Adze hoody ($199) is pretty similar, and Greyson loves his Rab softshell more than just about any of his coats (and he has more coats than me!)

I’ve been wearing something similar to the Armada Lenox ($179), which are technically ski pants (as opposed to snowboard pants) for the last five years, and I really like them. Snowboard pants tend to be baggier though, and I think with pants, it’s best to try on a bunch and find the ones that fit you best. Make sure you can move around in them – I’ve had ones that seem to fit fine standing up straight, but get too tight in the thighs in the snowboarder crouch. Another issue I’ve had with ski/snowboard pants is the fastener at the waist – I’ve had pairs that that the button would come undone every time I fell down. That’s not something you want to deal with on the mountain, so try sitting down on the ground in them, like you would be on your board. It seems silly, but it will help you see how they fit when you’re moving around. I like to have thigh vents, especially on insulated pants. If you get overheated, thigh vents let you cool down quickly.

Snowboarding Gear for Women // tahoefabulous.com
Photo by Greyson Howard

Gear
I’m still really happy with my Burton Women’s Feather snowboard (see my detailed review here). It’s been a great board to take me from beginner to advanced terrain, and I don’t see switching out any time soon. I’m still on my entry level Burton bindings – the Burton Custom Snowboard Bindings ($199), which have held up remarkably well for the past seven years. They are starting to wear out, so that will probably be the next upgrade I make. If you’re looking for great value bindings, I’d highly recommend the Custom.

I’ve cycled through a few boots over the years – starting with the cheapest Burton lace ups, nicer K2s with a boa system that I got on last season clearance, before settling on the Ride Hera Boa Snowboard Boots ($260). Despite linking to examples here, my number one tip is DON’T BUY BOOTS ONLINE. Go to a store that is known for bootfitting, try a bunch on, get advice from the bootfitters, get inserts, and then pay full price at the store. There’s no substitute for a good fitting boot, and you can’t do that online, especially since boot designs sometimes change subtly from year to year. Seriously, the number one improvement to my snowboarding ability (besides just time on the board) was getting properly fitted boots with the appropriate stiffness. (If you’re in Truckee or North Lake Tahoe, I had a great experience with boot fitting at Blue Zone Sports).

Accessories
Much like my biking socks recommendations, you can’t go wrong with Smartwool socks. They come in several thicknesses, including Ultra Light, Light, Medium Socks, and compression ($23 – $50). They also come in a variety of styles, colors, and patterns – from plain black to adorable mountain print.

When I first started snowboarding, my hands were always freezing and the snow gloves that worked for shoveling the driveway didn’t cut it. I first got some mittens with mitten shaped liners, which I would not recommend. The mitten liners didn’t let me do anything I couldn’t do with my mittens on, so I’d have to strip down to bare hands anyway. Plus, the palms didn’t stay waterproof for very long, so I was shortly in the market for my next pair. Next, I bought Dakine Women’s Leather Camino mittens, which I still use and love. The leather palm is tough (no accidentally slicing it on sharp edges) and very waterproof once treated. I only break them out on really cold days, though, because otherwise my hands get sweaty. Most of the season, I wear DaKine Women’s Tahoe Gloves ($50). I’ve been really happy with Dakine brand gloves and mittens and will continue to buy them for the foreseeable future.

Sugar Bowl Resort // tahoefabulous.com
Sugar Bowl Resort on a Bluebird Day

I’ve raved before about my Smith Squad MTB goggles for biking, and I like the Smith Squad Snow Goggles equally as much. Smith’s ChromaPop lens technology reduces color confusion that affects typical goggle lenses and helps you see in more detail.  I’d recommend having a lens for the sunny, bluebird days (ChromaPop Sun or Sun Black), one that works in a range of conditions (ChromaPop Everyday Green Mirror or Everyday Rose), and a lens for stormy, low light days (ChromaPop Storm). I mostly use the sunny and mid range lenses, but there were some stormy days last winter I wished I had gone with the low light lens.

Snowboarding Gear for Women // tahoefabulous.com
Helmet and goggle close up. Photo by Katie Riley

Helmets are a critical piece of safety equipment, and I ALWAYS wear mine! Get one that is cute and comfortable, and you’re more likely to wear it. I have a small head, and I think that Smith helmets fit me well. I have Smith Sequel, and I love the soft fabric over the ears and the vents, which are essential for comfort on warm days. Greyson has a big head, and POC helmets fit him well. Just try them on until you find one that fits well.

On days that it’s windy and snowing, I have a cheap synthetic buff, like this one from Amazon ($10). This isn’t something I’d spend much money on, but if you run cold consider splurging on a fleece BUFF. My cold blooded friend swears by it. I like to wear boots that  are easy to slip on and off and comfortable to wear to the hill. I have an older version of North Face ankle boots, similar to the Yukion. When it’s warm enough for the parking lot to be dry, I wear Minnetonka Cally Slippers or flip flops, which, to be honest, is my favorite time of year for skiing. Other things that are nice to have on the mountain are sunglasses that I don’t mind getting beat up, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and hair ties.

I hope that these gear recommendations are useful, and make it easier to get out on the mountain, whether it’s your first time or your 500th.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Gift Guide for Women Mountain Bikers

Mountain Bike Gift Guide // tahoefabulous.com

If you’re looking for something to give the lady mountain biker in your life, I have a few recommendations (Though most of these gifts are unisex, to be fair). These are all things I own and use or would be excited to get as a gift, and I’ve the prices range from cheap stocking stuffers to pricey dream gifts, so there’s something for every budget.

Stocking Stuffers for Lady Mountain Bikers // tahoefabulous.com

Stocking Stuffers
Back up tubes: even if she’s got a tubeless set up, back up tubes are always important, and be sure to get the right size – 29er or 27.5.
Tubeless Repair Kit: speaking of flat tires, a tubeless repair kit will eventually come in handy. I have the Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tackle Kit ($20).
Portable Tire Pump: Yet another in the flat tire series, a portable pump is critical. There are frame mounted pumps like the Master Blaster by Topeak ($22) or a mini pump like this Planet Bike one ($10) to go in a pack.
Good Socks: Socks can be a great gift, especially with the rate most bikers wear theirs out. SmartWool is my favorite brand of cycling socks, and they come in a variety of thicknesses (Ultra Light to heavy) and height (micro to tall) and patterns ($10 – $20).
Gloves: I like to have at least three pairs of gloves, both so I can be sure to find at least one matching pair and so they get disgusting more slowly. I’m still a big fan of the Giro LA DND ($25) and Giro Xena ($20 – $35).
Anti Chafing Stuff: All bikers know the benefit of chamois cream, but did you know that they make Chamois Butt’r Her’ ($14)? I honestly don’t know how it’s different, and I’ve used regular chamois cream without my lady parts falling off. What’s important is some kind of chafing protection. I also like to have a stick of Body Glide to use to prevent sports bra chafing, as the stick is less slimy than chamois cream.
Grips: It’s always nice to have an extra set of grips on hand, since they wear out fairly often. I’m a recent convert to foam grips, specifically Odi F-1 Float grips , but if foam isn’t her thing, I’m a long time user of Ergon GA2 grips ($20)

Mid Range Gifts for Lady Mountain Bikers // tahoefabulous.com
Mid-Range
Phone Case: I take my phone with me for safety (and selfies) and I like having a heavy duty phone case to protect my phone during crashes or precipitation. I’ve had the Lifeproof Nuud case on my last couple of phones and have been super happy with it. I like that the screen is bare, and my phone has survived several large drops and heavy precipitation situations. ($99)
Sunglasses: I generally like my sunglasses super dark, but I’m coming around to rose lenses for riding in filtered forest light. I have the Suncloud Cookie , but lots of the Suncloud glasses come with a rose lens ($50).
Goggles: For dusty or wet days, I break out my Smith Squad MTB goggles ($48). I actually have two pairs, one with clear lenses and a pair with darker lenses so I don’t even have to bother switching lenses (#lazy). These are the most comfortable goggles I’ve ever had – I’ve climbed in them on warm days and they haven’t been too uncomfortable. They do fog up a little on really wet days, but I think some fogging is unavoidable in any goggles.
Tires: Another product we go through quickly is tires, and nice mountain mtb tires are pricey! Classic tire choices include Maxxis Minion DHR and DHF ($80+). For a cheaper but still good option, I am switching to the Specialized Butcher ($70) and Purgatory ($60).
Hydration Pack: I have written several times about my love for the CamelBak Solstice ($100), and I still highly recommend it for a do-it-all hydration pack. This year, though, I’m asking for a smaller pack to wear on shorter rides, specifically the Dakine Hot Laps 2L Hip Pack ($40). This pack comes highly recommended for its ability to stay put and to hold a surprising amount of gear.

Splurge Gifts for Lady Mountain Bikers // tahoefabulous.com
Splurges
Helmet: The most important piece of mountain bike gear is your helmet, and having a well fitting, comfortable one can literally mean the difference between life and death. I’m a huge fan of the Bell Super R series series, which have a detachable chin bar and are light, well ventilated, and comfortable to wear ($160-$230). While you should always replace your helmet after a serious crash, the protection wears down on its own after years of use. My awesome Giro Feather is 5+ years old at this point, and I’m looking to replace it. While Giro doesn’t make the Feather anymore, the Giro Cartelle ($100) and the Giro Montara ($150) are equivalent designs.
Dropper Post: One of the best value improvements you can make to your bike is adding a dropper post, so it would be an amazing gift to receive! I already have a 150 mm dropper, but I’m looking to get a longer one the 175 mm version of the KS LEV that I have and am very happy with performance wise. Be sure that whatever dropper post you’re gifting will fit her bike!
Wind Shell: Most of the rides in the Tahoe area seem to be a long, sweaty climb to the top, then a rowdy and cold ride to the bottom. Because of this, a packable windproof shell is essential. I love my Patagonia Houdini jacket, which packs into its own chest pocket and easily fits in a hydration pack. It’s also great for hiking and trail running.
Floor Pump: Once you’ve got a tubeless tire set up, you need something with more power than your typical floor pump. I have and use the Bontrager Flash, and it’s worth the steep price tag ($120).
Wrist GPS: Since I love data and tracking, some kind of GPS tracker is essential to me. I have a big, bulky multi-sport capable Garmin Forerunner 910 (which has been great), but if I was buying a new one today, I’d get the Garmin Forerunner 235 ($235), which has a built in heart rate monitor and smart watch features in addition to its workout tracking capabilities.
Bike Skills Clinic: The number one thing that I want this year is to attend a women’s mountain bike skills clinic. I’ve heard amazing things about Liv’s Ladies Allride Clinic in Bend, which is what I’m leaning towards, but there are others all over the country, from major mountain bike destinations to small clinics on your local trails. Some other women-only clinics and camps that come highly recommended are VIDA MTB, Trek Dirt Series, and Roam Retreats.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Car Camping Road Trip Necessities

On the scale from ultralight backpacking to yurt glamping, I prefer to do my road tripping on the luxurious side. There’s a time and a place for cutting down your toothbrush and sitting on the ground, but, for me, road trips are not it! I’ve done a lot of car camping and road trips, and I have some great suggestions to make your time on the road and in your tent as comfortable as possible. I found options at lower and higher price points, so you can get a pleasant set up, no matter your budget.

Road Trip Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

Sleeping:
Being comfortable while sleeping makes a huge difference to your quality of life on the road, and I think it’s the most important area to splurge on. I love having a big-ass tent. Greyson and I are both tall people, and, while we can both fit in a two-person tent, it’s a tight squeeze. We have the Big Agnes Tensleep Station ($449.95) and the footprint ($50.00), and it is incredible. The tent is tall enough to get dressed in and there is enough room for both Greyson and me, and our bags. It also has a large vestibule, so you can take off wet and muddy gear, but stay dry. The tent is easy to set up – though it definitely helps to have two people, it can be set up by one. It has plenty of guylines, so you can stake it out and make it stable in high winds, despite its height. It doesn’t pack down very small and is heavy, which is the only real downside. For four-person tents under $200 from reputable brands, you could look at the highly-rated REI Co-op Camp Dome 4 or the Kelty Salida 4. For sleeping, I want something long, wide and cushy, and the insulated Nemo Cosmo in long and wide is perfect ($139.95). It also has an integrated foot pump for easy filling. For comfort under $100, try Kelty Weekender ($59.95), ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Airpad ($39.99), or the old reliable close-cell foam Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest.

Car Camping Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

After more than 5 years, I’m still really happy with my Sierra Designs Zissou ($144.95). With water-resistant down, it has the benefits of down without the drawbacks in wet weather. For warmer weather, Greyson prefers a backpacking quilt-style sleeping arrangement, even for car camping, like the Enlightened Equipment Revelation ($255). With quilt bags, you can cinch up the sides and bottoms when it’s chillier, or use it like a blanket on warmer nights. If you opt for synthetic, affordable and reliable sleeping bags are easy to find. There’s the Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Quilt ($69.27) or the REI Co-op Trail Pod ($89.95) or the Marmot NanoWave ($89.95), which also comes in long. I didn’t use a sleeping bag liner until our honeymoon, and now I can’t imagine camping without one. I have the easily-washable and light Sea to Summit Expander Travel Liner ($34.95) which is on the cheaper end of liners. If you tend to sleep cold, you could get the Sea to Summit – Reactor Extreme Thermolite liner ($59.99) which can add up to 25 degrees of warmth! You could even use it as a standalone ultralight bag in really warm weather. Don’t forget a pillow! You can just bring a pillow from home for the cheapest and easiest option, but I have and like the NEMO Fillo ($39.95). A cheaper travel pillow is the Cocoon Ultralight Pillow ($25.95).

Car Camping Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

Eating:
I’ve found that having a nice and easy to use kitchen set up makes us much more likely to cook and less likely to cave in to eating out. First up, a really nice cooler is worth the money. We are so impressed with our YETI Tundra cooler ($249.99). Stuff stays cold for so long! At a lower price point, the old school Coleman Steel-Belted cooler has good reviews and holds a ton ($94.99). For cooking, nothing beats the Coleman Classic 2-burner Stove, ($32.99) for both price and performance. If you want something that packs down smaller, there’s the Jetboil Genesis 2 ($239.59). We also have a Jetboil Flash ($99.95) that we use if we’re just heating water for coffee in the morning. On the cheaper side, the MSR PocketRocket ($44.95) is a classic for a reason – it works and, while not quite as easy to use as a Jetboil, it’s quite simple.

Car Camping Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

I like the ease of an all in one camp cookset, like the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper ($139.95). For a smaller cookset, look at the Snow Peak Personal Cooker ($29.95). You’ve also got to have utensils, and nothing beats a Titanium Spork ($9.95). You can also go super budget with this reusable GSI plastic spork ($1.75)

Car Camping Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

Miscellaneous:
If you’re not spending more than a day in each of your stops, and you have a lot of time on the road, you can probably get away with charging your phones via a car charger. If you’re spending a few days exploring a destination or you have bigger things (computers, cameras, gps units, etc.) to charge, you’ll want a battery system. No matter what, this isn’t going to be cheap, but it’s better than camping out in Starbucks for hours! We have the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station ($199.95), which can charge up to five devices at once, via USB ports, regular plugs, or car chargers. You can recharge the power station from a wall outlet or via Goal Zero solar panel ($125.49).

Once you’ve settled in to your campsite for the night, you’ll want to be comfortable and entertained. While a lot of developed campsites have picnic tables for seating, dispersed or primitive camping lacks that amenity. Plus, a chair with a back is so much more comfortable! I’m not a fan of the ultra light or small packing camp chairs – if I’m bringing a chair, it needs to be the real thing. The REI Co-op Camp X chair ($39.95) is perfect. It’s roomy, has cup holders, and they seem to last forever. I’m also big on having a hammock whenever possible, and I’ve had no complaints about the ENO DoubleNest Hammock ($52.46). Don’t forget the Hammock Suspension System ($29.95) – you won’t be able to swing without it.

Car Camping Must Haves // tahoefabulous.com

Hopefully, you’ll be stopping for outdoor meals in gorgeous places on your road trip. I’ve found that having a water-resistant picnic blanket for these occasions is a must have. We’ve given the Nemo Victory Blanket ($79.95) as a gift, and the recipients love it. It’s truly waterproof (non just resistant), and you can even stake down the edges if it’s windy out! There are much cheaper options out there, like this one ($9.99) or this one ($21.99), but they aren’t going to be fully waterproof.

Camp games are a great way to entertain yourself and to make friends with your neighbors. I’ve played Spikeball ($55.99), Bocce Ball ($29.95) and Ladder Golf ($37.49) while camping and had a blast. Get waterproof versions of playing cards ($8.99) or games like UNO ($9.95) for durability and to protect from spills or sudden storms.

Finally, we love our solar powered, inflatable, multi-color Luci Lanterns ($19.50). While they might just seem like a silly gimmick, we truly use ours a lot. They don’t take up very much space at all, charge quickly (we put ours on the car dash while we drive), and the white is bright enough to read by. The multi-color function is fun for the wilder nights and for entertaining kids. If you just want white light, you can get the Original Lucy ($17.95) for a little cheaper.

There are some of my suggestions to make your next car camping road trip a little more luxurious! I didn’t hit everything, so what did I miss?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Gear List for the Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip: Camping

I’m back today to finish sharing my gear list for the Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip, this time focusing on camping gear and the miscellaneous things that enhance a road trip experience. You can check out part one, Mountain Biking Gear Packing List here.

Camping Road Trip Gear List // tahoefabulous.com

I mentioned that Greyson and I got married this summer, and our Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip was how we celebrated our honeymoon. We registered at REI for our wedding, and our generous friends and family helped us really upgrade our camping set up. Our amazing wedding gifts, plus some big upgrades we’ve made over the past few years meant that our car camping set up is pretty luxurious. When you’re on the road for a month, nice gear makes a big difference.

Camping Gear List
Sleeping Set Up: Your sleeping set up is one of the most critical parts of an enjoyable camping road trip. I’ve had my sleeping bag, the Sierra Designs Zissou Plus, which has Dridown, a water repellant down filling. This has all the advantages of down (fluffy, very packable) with the advantages of synthetic (can keep you warm even if it gets a little wet). The biggest wedding present upgrade was the Nemo Cosmo Insulated sleeping pad. This sleeping pad is wide, warm, cushy, quiet and not crinkly, and easy to inflate with the integrated foot pump. For a pillow, I got the NEMO Fillo backpacking pillow. A camping pillow is never going to be as supportive as a regular pillow, but this one is pretty good. I finally got a sleeping bag liner, which was really nice for variable temperatures and keeping my sleeping bag from getting super gross when we went a long time without showering. I have the Sea To Summit Expander Travel Liner.

A little #gameofthroneswine on the #oregoncoast. #camping #oregondunes #toasterroadtrip #latergram

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Kitchen Gear: The kitchen item we used the most on the road trip wasn’t something that we registered for, but it was awesome – Sea To Summit X Mug. We filled a lot of growlers with beer, and then poured the beer into these folding cups. They’re also really stable, which is nice on uneven ground and picnic tables. We also got a lot of use out of the classic Coleman 2-Burner Stove. For our cookset, we used the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Cookset, which has everything two people could need. The Snow Peak Cutting Board Set was another great addition to our camp kitchen. And I’m sure we would have gotten food poisoning several times without the YETI Tundra Cooler which kept our food cold for days at a time with only a couple of bags of ice.

After our #toasterwedding reception in #reardan camp 17 is #kingsleyreservoir above #hoodriver #oregon . #toasterroadtrip

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Tent: During this trip, I joked to Greyson, “This is how people end up buying motorhomes, isn’t it?” I was referring to our huge, luxurious tent. We have the Big Agnes Tensleep Station Tent, a four person tent. We’re both tall people (I’m 5’11”, he’s 6’3″), and a two person tent is not made for two people our size. This tent is big enough for us to stretch out, have our clothing bags inside with us, and have room to spare. The Tensleep also has two doors, which was a must have for me. It has two vestibules, one of which is large enough to take off wet gear, while staying dry, which is really nice for camping in wet places. The tent is huge – which means it has a large footprint and only packs down to the size of a large duffel bag. It’s very tall – I can almost stand up in it, but it has held up in the wind really well. The price is high, but even the small details are well designed, like plenty of very reflective guy lines and multiple ways to set up the “front door”. If you can’t make the full commitment to #vanlife, the Big Agnes Tensleep is the next best thing.
Battery/Solar Panel: Not going to lie, I like to stay connected. Also, since we were gone for so long, there were points when we both needed to check in with work, so we had an array of technology that occasionally needed to be charged. This was easy with our Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station and the Goal Zero Nomad 20 Solar Panel. It was easy to keep the portable power station charged up – we pretty much never dipped below 80% between our occasional motel stops and the solar panel.

Happy #nationalhammockday! #beer #Oregon #hammocklife #toasterroadtrip

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Seating:  I spent a lot of time in our ENO DoubleNest Hammock – occasionally I even let Greyson use it. I tried to convince Greyson that we should register for smaller, packable chairs, but he convinced me that we should stick with his big, bulky REI chairs. He was right. Having big, comfortable chairs to relax in was so nice at the end of a long day.
Roof Box: We needed every inch of storage in the Toaster for this road trip, and the Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 Rooftop Cargo Box helped increase our storage area. It’s not the fanciest roof box on the market, but it worked well. It’s not as loud as some roof boxes – we didn’t even notice a sound. It didn’t reduce gas mileage by that much, but the Toaster isn’t the most aerodynamic vehicle to begin with.
Lighting: We had two sources of light on this trip: our Petzl Tikka headlamps and the extremely awesome MPOWERD Luci color changing inflatable solar lanterns. We registered for one of these, and somehow ended up with three. I’m definitely not complaining – they all got used and have been a hit on every camping trip we’ve gone on since.
Bike Rack: An easy to use bike rack is critical, and nothing is easier than the Kuat Racks NV tray style. This rack comes with a flimsy cable lock, which we bolster with the Kryptonite 999546 lock for extra security.
Miscellaneous: There are a few more odds and ends that helped make this road trip awesome – the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, whose water resistant nature came in handy during a rainstorm in Whistler, the ridiculously awesome YETI Rambler can cooler, Packtowl RobeTowl, which made changes at the trailhead much easier, and our storage system of bins, two heavy duty ones for camping stuff and biking stuff and a collapsible one for our kitchen.

So there it is – my in depth packing list for the Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip. Don’t forget, you can check out my list of Mountain Bike Gear here. Did I miss anything?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Gear List for the Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip

Mountain Bike Road Trip Packing List // tahoefabulous.com

I’ve done quite a few mountain biking/camping road trips over the past few years, and I really think that I’ve got my gear list dialed in. Overpacking and underpacking are both things you want to avoid on a road trip – especially a long one. You don’t want to run out of clean chamois or have too much stuff to dig through when you’re looking for a specific tool. It took a lot of trial and error, so I’m going to share my gear lists and what I’ve learned.

I’ve broken down my packing list into a few categories: biking, camping, apparel, and miscellaneous for ease. In this post, I’m focusing on bike gear and apparel. I’ll be posting about camping gear and the other odds and ends soon. I’m basing this on our one month, 2,700+ mile road trip. We used pretty much everything we brought, and there wasn’t really anything I felt like I was missing. For a shorter road trip, you might not need as much stuff, but I think that this is a good base. Here’s what to pack for the Ultimate Mountain Bike Road Trip:

Mountain Bike Gear List // tahoefabulous.com

Bike Gear:
BikeYou’re definitely going to need this. I love my 2016 Transition Smuggler (a short travel 29er) so much. It was a perfect bike for nearly everything we rode. Spoiler: I wish I had more travel at Whistler.

Mountain Bike Gear Packing List // tahoefabulous.com
HelmetFor a nearly perfect combination of safety, comfort, and versatility, you really can’t beat Bell Super R Helmet series. The newest version is the Super 3R, but I have the Super 2R, which is just an earlier version that you can still find a really good deal on. These helmets have a removable chin bar. I love this feature, because I can leave it off for easier rides or climbs, and then attach it for more protection on the more technical rides. Overall, the helmet has lots of venting, so it’s cooler than pretty much all full face helmets, even with the face bar attached. If you don’t plan to ever need the chin bar, I really like the Giro Feather helmet. I wrote a long review about it here.
PedalsI ride clipless pedals 95% of the time, but I almost always pack both clipless pedals and flats for road trips. Two sets of pedals and shoes don’t take up that much room and add a lot of versatility. Even for clipless pedals, I like ones with a bit of a platform, like these Shimanos. For flats, I like these basic Answer Rove R2s. They have small hex screws for extra grip that are easily replaced.
ShoesI am recommending my biking shoes with a caveat. Once I’ve got the Five Ten Kestrel on, they are a perfect biking shoe. They’re comfortable, the boa system instead of laces makes sure they’re always secure, easy to walk in, shed mud well, and, if I can’t clip in immediately, their slightly sticky bottom means that my feet still stay on the pedals pretty well. However, they are a little hard to get on and off, and the pull strap that’s on the heel of the right shoe broke immediately on both mine and Greyson’s, which is annoying but doesn’t effect the function at all. I’d still highly recommend them.

Mountain Biking Gear List // tahoefabulous.com
Photo by Corey Vannoy

Hydration packI think that a comfortable and functional hydration pack is one of the pieces of gear that’s most integral to having a fun ride, especially as the distances get longer. I’ve recommended the CamelBak Solstice before. It’s a women’s specific, lumbar pack designed for mountain biking. I still love it, though the light grey color mine is has started to look pretty gross on the back. Greyson has the men’s version, the CamelBak Skyline shown above.
GlovesIt’s really nice to have two pairs of gloves to give each pair a chance to dry out. I don’t pay a lot for gloves. I usually buy what’s on sale and what fits my rather large hands. Right now, I alternate between the Giro Xena and the Giro LA DND.

#Enduro bros.

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EyewearI am hard on and terrible to sunglasses. I admit it. I’ve found that the Suncloud brand is a nice balance. They’re polarized and hold up pretty well, but don’t break the bank so I don’t feel too bad about immediately dropping and scratching them. I also have very light sensitive eyes, so I tend to like my sunglasses pretty dark, even when mountain biking. I’ve finally come around, and I like the Suncloud Cookie with rose lenses for rides in the trees where the light is variable. For rainy/windy/dusty conditions, or just when I want to look like an enduro bro, I wear Smith Squad MTB.
Pads: For a trip like this, we went for light, breathable and smaller pads to save space. The SixSixOne Recon knee are really comfortable – they’re fine if you need to pedal and are about as cool and breathable as you can get.
Anti Chafe Protection: For long, sweaty summer rides, Chamois Butt’r and Body Glide are essentials.
Various Tools: You’re going to want a few things with you on a ride, like a basic multi tool and a mini bike pump for repairs on the trail. However, when you’re on a long bike trip, a more thorough tool kit will save you time and money. If you don’t already have a bike tool kit assembled, this Park Tool SK-2 Home Mechanic Starter Kit is a good place to start. Finally, having a nice floor pump makes keeping your tires at exactly the right psi simple and easy. We have the Bontrager Flash, which has an air chamber and can set tubeless tires, but if you don’t want to pay more than $100 for a tire pump, there are other options at lower price points.

 

I might have a slight turquoise/teal #mountainbike clothes problem. Off to #mammoth!

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Apparel: 

    • Liners: First off, think of how many liners/chamois you think you need. Then pack at least one more, especially on a long trip. While you can wash these by hand, they take a long time to dry, even in the summer sun. We were doing a lot of liner algebra. “Ok, I have two pairs of clean ones, and two wet ones and we want to ride three times in the next four days, and the wet ones should dry in x hours…” etc. Liners are definitely not a one size fits all type of gear – find what fits your body best. I tend to like Fox’s liners, which can be hard to buy separately, but I did find these Fox Switchback shorts.
    • Baggies: I also like the Fox baggies, especially the Fox Ripley shorts and Fox Lynx shorts. Note: the Lynx only have a tiny back zipper pocket, which is dumb.
    • Tops: I am a very sweaty person, and mostly bike in tank tops. If I am going to wear long sleeves, I like lightweight tops like the Pearl iZUMi Launch Jersey, which is so breathable I don’t even notice it. For wind, I have a Patagonia Houdini Jacket, which packs down very, very small.
    • Accessories: Smartwool makes good socks and low impact sports bras. For high impact sports bras, Brooks Rebound Racer (formerly Moving Comfort) is amazing.

I hope you’re reading this because you’re planning an awesome mountain bike road trip. Check back in for my camping recommendations. If you’ve been on a mountain bike or other long road trip, chime in with your suggestions.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Sierra Summer Essentials

Last year, I shared my top essentials for an amazing summer by Lake Tahoe. Now I’m back to share more of my favorite things for a perfect summer!

Sierra Summer Essentials // tahoefabulous.com

Something to lounge around in/on. We’ve all seen the hammocks that are all over Instagram, and I have an ENO two person hammock that I’m sure will get a ton of use on Greyson and my road trip next week. But even better, I got a LayBag for my birthday from Greyson’s parents!

Laybag // tahoefabulous.com

The LayBag™ as a brand-new product and the lifestyle innovation of the season has been created to perfectly relax anywhere. The inflatable sofa that fills air within seconds is super comfortable and can be described as a clever combination of an inflatable couch with the very simple filling-technique used on dry-bags. No external pump needed!

Therefore it can be inflated and deflated within seconds and stored in a small carrying-bag giving you the opportunity to carry your LayBag anywhere you want, giving you more time to lounge on your LayBag.

I took the LayBag for its first test run this past weekend. We watched the instructional video first, which made inflation look super simple, just flapping the LayBag through the air while alternating sides, roll, clip, and done. It was a little more complicated, and we definitely needed a breeze to help us out. We did get it filled pretty quickly once the wind picked up, and I was floating in no time.
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Sun Shirt/Rashguard. Before Indonesia, I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea of a sun shirt or rashguard. I thought I’d be too hot, and that it couldn’t work that well. I started coming around on the idea when I rafted the American River last June. I wore a NRS Rashguard in the boat, and I didn’t burn at all, and barely had to reapply sunscreen. When I got too hot, I got in the water, shirt and all and the wet fabric helped me stay cool. In Raja Ampat, where it was often over 90 degrees and 90% humidity, I wore a sun shirt pretty much any time I was outside and not in the water. I don’t go to that extent in our fairly mild Tahoe summers, but sun shirts are really nice for hiking on high altitude, exposed trails. Hint for tall/long armed women: this men’s columbia button down in a medium fit me perfectly. I also have a men’s Patagonia sun shirt with a hood that is really comfy.

Approach Shoes: I am a huge fan of sandals like Chacos (which you can probably tell by my telltale Z tan in the above photo!) for summer adventures, but they aren’t perfect for everything. Approach shoes fill the gap when you want something with more protection than sandals, a softer sole than trail runners, and more low key than hiking boots. I recently bought a pair of Five Ten Guide Tennies and they have been great for all sorts of activities this summer. Their sticky bottoms are great for scrambling around on the granite of Donner Summit, they protect my toes from loose rocks on the approach to the climbing wall, and I’ve even worn them biking when I have flat pedals on my mountain bike.

My 5.10 Guide Tennies were perfect for scrambling around on the granite on Oldstead Point in Yosemite National Park.
My 5.10 Guide Tennies were perfect for scrambling around on the granite on Olmstead Point in Yosemite National Park.

Hydration System: The air up here in Tahoe is very dry, and it’s important to stay hydrated during your runs, hikes, rides, climbs, etc. (especially if you plan on sampling some of the great beer we have up here!) I’m a big fan of hydration packs, especially for mountain bike rides and hikes. I have and LOVE the CamelBak Solstice. It’s a mountain bike specific hydration pack with lots of extra features, which I think add to the functionality of the Solstice.

Our newest women’s mountain bike pack is a low rider. The Solstice™ is a full-featured pack that shifts your load—and most importantly, your water supply—down towards your waist. That small change gives you a lower center of gravity and a wider range of motion, which makes it easier to maneuver as you’re barreling downhill. The Solstice also stores enough water and gear for a full day on the trail: a 3-liter Antidote® reservoir, helmet hooks, attachment points for soft armor, and a tool roll to keep your gear organized. We designed the Solstice specifically for women, with an S-shaped harness that curves comfortably around your chest, and a slightly shorter back panel for a more ergonomic fit. The velvetex-lined harness also keeps the straps from chafing against your skin.

I'm wearing my Camelbak Solstice on this trail through the redwoods at Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz.
I’m wearing my Camelbak Solstice on this trail through the redwoods at Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz.

For hiking, I have an older Osprey Packs Raptor pack, which is technically a bike specific pack. I like it better for hiking than biking, and I love the fact that the bladder has the easy to use Nalgene screw top. I’ve even gone on some trail runs with this pack, but it’s not the best for that. I almost bought the Osprey Rev 6 to use for trail running/biking, but I decided on a bike specific pack since I use it way more. For running, I’ve been sticking with a handheld bottle, like this Nathan VaporMax Plus.

Cush Comforts for Car Camping. Did you like my alliteration there? I love car camping, and, one of the reasons why I love it is how comfortable you can be! While a few pieces of lighter weight gear make their way into my car camping set up (ahem, this super comfortable Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Pillow), I take advantage of the packing room to bring some larger items. My favorite is a super comfortable sleeping pad. I have the backcountry.com knock off of the Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp (which it looks like they don’t make any more, sadly). If you’re not worried about space and you are worried about comfort, look for a car camping mattress that has a foam core AND inflates.

Greyson recently bought himself a Yeti Cooler. Yes, they are really expensive. Yes, they are really heavy. Yes, they are really that awesome at keeping your food cold. Definitely go check them out in person before you buy them, though, because all of that insulation comes at a price – the usable space inside the cooler. Stay tuned later this month for more of my car camping recommendations!

Tahoe Fabulous Summer Cocktail // tahoefabulous.com

A Perfect Summer Cocktail: I’m not usually a huge fan of sweet drinks (black coffee, gin & tonics, and IPAs, all the way!), but this fruit and herb infused cocktail is perfect for summer.

  1. Muddle half a lime, a couple spoonfuls of watermelon and 4-5 large basil leaves in the bottle of a rocks glass.
  2. Pour in a shot or two of your favorite gin.
  3. Add ice to top of the glass.
  4. Finish with tonic and enjoy! I like to garnish with a slice of watermelon when I’m feeling fancy.

So there are a few of my essentials for this summer. What are you loving right now?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

 

Packing List: An Indonesia SCUBA Trip

I am kind of an obsessive list maker when it comes to traveling. What? I just like to be organized. Since this was my first trip to Indonesia, first ever SCUBA dive trip, and first international vacation in a long time, I was seriously stumped on how to pack. I did a lot of googling phrases like “scuba trip packing list” “what to pack for Indonesia” “how many pairs of underwear for 15 days”. While I didn’t find a one stop shop for a packing list, I cobbled together my own packing list using a few different resources (including this “how many underwear to pack” chart).

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Here’s a screenshot of my obsessively categorized and color coded packing list:

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For reference, our trip was basically 5 days of travel time (2 there, 3 back) and 10 days SCUBA diving at the resort. We really didn’t do any other traveling or activities other than SCUBA/snorkel/swim. So if you’re going to be doing any hiking, temple visiting, climbing, etc., you’ll want to reference some other lists as well. I packed a lot of things I already owned and had for a long time. For items that were specifically awesome, I’ll link to them.

Clothes:

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  • Dresses x 2 – I find dresses from “adventure” brands like Patagonia and prAna hold up to wrinkling well.
  • Spandex shorts (to wear under the dress for anti-chafing)
  • Capri pants – love these prAna ones in charcoal.
  • Lightweight black leggings
  • Running shorts x 2 – whatever quick dry running shorts you already have will work
  • T-shirt x 2 – loved the Standard Tee from Krochet Kids. It’s got a little nicer shape than a plain t-shirt and it’s sooo soft. Perfect for the airport.
  • Tank Top x 5 – I highly recommend loose, blousy tanks. I just brought old and/or cheap Target ones. The only thing I ended up not wearing was a fitted workout tank with built in bra. It seemed too hot for something that fitted! If we had gone hiking, I probably would have worn it, though.
  • SPF Long Sleeve Shirts x 3 – it felt weird taking 3 long sleeve shirts to the tropics, but I wore them every single day for sun protection. Columbia and Patgonia have nice ones.
  • Shorts x 3 – I packed knee length stretch denim shorts and, though I wore them once, I regretted it. My other ones were cheap black and khaki ones from Old Navy.
  • Sports Bra x 3 – didn’t pack a real bra, never regretted it.
  • Quick Dry Underwear x 5 – nothing is quick dry in the tropics. Wish I packed more underwear.
  • Socks x 3 – compression socks for the plane and two extras. Didn’t need the other socks.
  • Rash Guard – I have one similar to this NRS Rash Guard
  • Swim Suits – Tops x 4, Bottoms x 3  – I talk about my favorite swimsuits in this post. My favorite swimsuit brands for active ladies are prAna, Athleta, and Calavera.
  • Sweatshirt – strictly for airplane use. I brought an old zippy that I didn’t care about losing or ruining for easy on/off.

On the plane, I wore lightweight leggings, the grey Krochet Kids t-shirt, compression socks, sweat shirt, and running shoes. I looked a little sloppy, but in the airport I ditched the sweatshirt and running shoes, put on the Sanuks and the straw hat and felt like I looked presentable. In my carryon, I packed a dress, extra underwear, running shorts and my favorite swimsuit. I figured I could get by on that for awhile if my luggage got lost.

Shoes/Accessories/Other

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  • Shoes x 3: Old trail runners, Chacos,  and Sanuk yoga slings
  • Hat x 2: Straw hat and one of Greyson’s dorky visors. I forgot to bring a baseball cap, which I completely regret.
  • Sunglasses x 3:  I like these ones and these ones by Sun Cloud. They have nice, polarized lenses but aren’t so expensive that I’m terrified of losing them.
  • Sunglasses Strap: I lost this in the ocean partway through. Ooops.
  • Water Bottle: I usually use a Klean Kanteen, but I wanted the lighter/bigger Nalgene for this trip.
  • Travel Pillow/Eye Mask/Ear Plugs: Necessary for long flights
  • Headlamp: Didn’t use, but glad to have it
  • Life Straw: Ditto
  • Phone/Charger/Converter: The only electronic that I brought was my iPhone. It was my entertainment/e reader/camera/contact with the outside world. I have a LifeProof Nuud Waterproof Case so I wasn’t too worried about getting it wet, but I never brought it on the daily boat rides. Other people had GoPros and dive housing for their cameras, so I let them take all the actual SCUBA pictures.
  • Passport/Drivers License/PADI Card/Insurance Card/Credit Cards/Cash/Important Copies

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen – I’m really picky about what sunscreen I’ll use. Since we were spending so much time close to a delicate reef, it was really important to me that I use reef safe sunscreen. I brought two containers of Thinksport SPF 50, which has a good Environmental Working Group rating. It had a bit of a learning curve, as I didn’t apply enough my first time out and got a little burnt on my nose. After I figured out how much I needed to use, I really liked it, especially for my face.
  • Bug Spray with DEET
  • Waterproof Mascara/CC Cream/Eyeliner – this was the only makeup that I brought. I rarely wore any, but it was nice to have and all I needed/wanted.
  • Bronners & Conditioner
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Hair Ties & Barrettes/Wide Tooth Comb – the barrettes were essential for keeping my bangs back in the water
  • Toothpaste/Travel Toothbrush/Floss
  • Face wash wipes
  • Deodorant & Body Glide – I was so sweaty all the time, and I’m so glad I brought body glide.
  • Tweezers/Nail Clippers
  • Medicine
  • Chapstick x 6 – I am also obsessively worried about losing all my chapstick.

SCUBA Gear

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Note: I rented a BCD and regulator from Papua Explorers Resort. The resort also provided weights and a reef hook to the guests.

  • 2.5 mm Full Length Wetsuit – Greyson, you were right. Even at the equator, a full length wetsuit was the right decision.
  • Dive computer
  • Safety sausage/whistle
  • Mask/fins– I carried by mask and snorkel in my carry on.
  • Fins/booties – I got the cheapest fins & booties package at the dive shop. I wish I’d gotten slightly nicer ones since I got pretty bad hot spots on my toes.

There’s my list! While (nearly) everything I brought got used, there were a few standout products that I have to call out specifically.

Best Of:

  • Patagonia Magnolia Dress – I bought this dress in 2011 to wear in a friend’s wedding – it’s got to be the most versatile dress of all time. It barely wrinkles, it’s so comfortable and it’s super flattering. I have it in grey, but it comes in adorable patterns now.
  • Running shorts – I just brought a couple of old pairs that I had hanging around. I like them because they’re comfortable and dry quickly. I’d recommend ones without built in underwear if possible.
  • Columbia Sun Shirt – This was on sale, light, it protected me from the sun and let me live out my paleontologist fantasies. At 5’11”, the men’s medium fit me perfectly – way better than any of the women’s shirts.
  • Smartwool Strappy Sports Bra– the wool/synthetic blend helped them not smell bad, a miracle in the tropics.
  • Calavera Core Lifeguard swim top – this top was the best one to wear under my wetsuit. It’s also great to swim around in. I never worried about falling out or it coming untied, even while pulling my wetsuit on and off. It also didn’t have bulky knots.
  • Columbia Straw Hat– this hat covered my face, my neck and my dirty hair while looking pretty stylish. It also was able to be re-shaped after I crushed it into my carry on over and over.
  • BodyGlide chafing is no joke in the tropics. I used this daily for chafe-proofing my body. When I started developing hot spots on my toes, this stuff helped as well.
  • Sea to Summit Travel Pillow– I can sleep anywhere, and it’s in part due to this awesome travel pillow. It packs down so small, but blows up big and firm enough for real support.
  • 2.5 mm Full Length Wetsuit – I bought a cheap suit from Seavenger and, while I’m not sure how long it’s going to last me, it worked great for this trip. It was easy to get on and off, didn’t stretch out too much, dried as well as other pricier suits, and never started to smell bad. Note: size down! According to their measurements, I was at the top end of a size 13. I ordered that and it was way too big. Luckily, they had an 11 still in stock and I ordered that. It fit me, and it was nowhere close to too small.
  • Suunto ZOOP Dive Computer
    This is a pretty basic model, but it was very easy to use. Greyson set it up in just a couple of minutes, and all I had to do was turn it on and jump in the water. Idiot proof!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Favorite Sierra Products – A Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the best products local to Tahoe. Now, I’m going to expand my range a little further and talk about my favorite things from my favorite mountain range – the Sierra Nevada! Plus, there will be a giveaway at the end that I think is pretty awesome.

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Klean Kanteen:
Klean Kanteen is based in Chico, California (home to another favorite – Sierra Nevada Brewing). I’ve mentioned my love for Klean Kanteen in other product round ups, but I just have to mention again how much I like them! I definitely think their insulated Kanteen are superior to their competitor Hydroflask. I am notoriously bad about forgetting to wash out my morning coffee, but the Klean Kanteen doesn’t have ANY lingering coffee smell. Klean Kanteen partners with organizations to co-brand their merchandise for fundraisers, and my organization is currently selling Sierra Nevada Alliance Klean Kanteens if you want to buy one!

Klean Kanteen manufactures their bottles in China, and has this to say about that

“Klean Kanteen has always shared many of the concerns you, our customers, have expressed about manufacturing the bottles in China. Before a single bottle was ever produced, Klean Kanteen set in place checks and balances to ensure that our bottles are produced safely, sustainably and that the people making Klean Kanteens are treated well and paid fairly. By manufacturing in China, Klean Kanteen can provide a handcrafted bottle of exceptional quality at a reasonable price.”

Klean Kanteen bottles are made from stainless steel, and the bottles are unlined and don’t contain any BPA. You can even get some of the Kanteens made entirely plastic free with stainless steel and bamboo lids.

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Photo by Greyson Howard

Yuba Expeditions: 
Not exactly a product, but more of a service – Yuba Expeditions in Downieville, California provides shuttle service, bike rentals and everything else you need to ride the classic Downieville Downhill mountain bike trail. I was able to ride the Downhill twice this summer, and both times we used the Yuba Expedition shuttle. Their service is great – on one trip, our group was too large to fit in on the existing shuttle routes, so they did a special shuttle trip at 7 am just for our group! It’s totally affordable ($20 per person), and their profits support Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, an awesome trail building organization that builds and maintains the great trails in the Sierra Buttes area.

When you finish the ride, hot and exhausted, Yuba Expeditions has cold, local beer waiting for you, AND it’s next to a swimming hole made by the confluence of the Yuba and the Downie Rivers, just waiting for you to jump in. Yuba Expeditions also sells really great shirts/hats/bike gear etc.

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I wear my Yuba Expeditions hat all the time, and Greyson has this “Another Shitty Day in Downieville” tank top. (Not him in the picture)

Juniper Ridge:
Technically, Juniper Ridge is based in Berkeley, California, but many of their products are distilled from plants collected in the Sierra Nevada.

“All Juniper Ridge products are 100% Wildcrafted and produced using old perfume making techniques including distillation, tincturing, infusion and enfleurage. A hundred years ago, all perfumes were made this way. Today we’re the only ones who handle every step of the process ourselves, from beginning to end. These formulas vary from year to year and harvest to harvest, based on rainfall, temperature, exact harvesting location, and season. The exact formula depends on what we find in the wind, a conversation with the living, wild ecology…

All of our plants are wildharvested with the utmost sensitivity and respect for the existing wildscape. We return to the same stands year after year to carefully monitor regrowth. We never use alien or invasive species and are actively involved in native plant restoration projects from San Diego to Seattle. 10% of all of our profits are annually donated to a portfolio of Western Wilderness Defense organizations. We revel in the intact forest habitats of the West, and tirelessly work to promote education as to how best to protect them.”

The amount of Juniper Ridge I own is a little ridiculous, but I just love all of their stuff so much! I can’t handle a lot of perfumed or scented products, but their stuff never bugs me. I would much rather smell like a cedar forest than a fake scent created in a lab. (A lot of the scented products on the market contain phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors and bad for the environment.) I first learned about this company from a friend at work when they donated several gift baskets worth of stuff to an auction. I won one of the gift baskets and have never looked back.

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My current favorite products are the Steep Ravine Organic Soap, Douglas fir spring tips tea, Sierra Granite Trail Soap, and the Christmas Tree Cabin Spray. Oh, and also the Siskiyou backpacker cologne! I got it for Greyson, but he’s not a cologne guy, and, hey, it’s unisex!

Chico Bags
Many cities in California (including Truckee and South Lake Tahoe) have a plastic bag ban, but I was using re-usable grocery bags long before it was compulsory. In fact, my mom recently sent me a re-usable bag we made together for an elementary school project. It’s got some sweet glitter paint designs.

At this point, I’ve accumulated a TON of reusable grocery bags, but by far my favorite is the ChicoBag Sling rePETe tote. The rePETe bags are made from recycled material, mostly 100% post-consumer bottles. The sling bags have a cross body strap (making them great for hauling beer and snacks to all day music festivals) and can hold up to 4o pounds. I was telling the checker at Safeway that, and she was curious so she weighed my bag – it easily carried 30+ pounds. I’m not sure how you’d get up to 40 without weights, but I trust them!

Living Wild by Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman
I love this book by Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman. Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California is so much more than a cookbook – it’s a great reference for the native plants of California, with a special focus on the Sierra.

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Photo from livingwild.org

“An invitation to celebrate California’s heritage and culture weaves through LIVING WILD, an essential guide to the uses of native plants. This expanded second edition offers a deep awareness of the landscape with advice on cultivating more than 100 native plant species and enjoying this natural abundance for sustainable wild food cuisine and herbal medicine remedies. LIVING WILD is the only sourcebook that provides a simple path to fundamentally shift the way we eat, garden and heal.”

Giveaway!

I’m giving away an awesome Sierra Nevada Gift Pack valued at $132.50 containing – a 16 oz insulated Sierra Nevada Alliance Klean Kanteen ($32.50 value), Juniper Ridge Sierra Granite Trail Soap ($30 value) & Cabin Spray ($40 value), and Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California by Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman ($30 value).

Enter here and by commenting below: a Rafflecopter giveaway. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, February 15th.

Disclosure: All of the giveaway items I purchased with my own money. None of these awesome businesses paid me to advertise for them. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN GIVEAWAYS. A PURCHASE WON’T IMPROVE AN INDIVIDUAL’S CHANCE OF WINNING. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OF ANY PRIZE ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER I’m only able to ship to the US and Canada, so only entries from those countries.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Gear Review: Burton Feather Women’s Snowboard

Burton Feather Snowboard Review

When I moved to South Lake Tahoe in November 2010, I had been on skis a total of 3 times, and I had never been snowboarding. I’m one of the few people who moved to Tahoe for the job and took up winter sports instead of vice versa. Despite the fact that I’d been skiing a few times, I ended up a snowboarder for a couple of very simple reasons:

  1. My roommate at the time gave me a free snowboard (Thanks, Carrie!)
  2. My best friend in Tahoe is a snowboarder, and she offered to teach me (Thanks, Katie!)

My first board was an old Burton, covered in stickers and dings, and it was a great board to learn on because I didn’t have to worry about messing it up. As I started to move from beginner towards intermediate, I decided it was time to buy a new snowboard.

After some research and stalking end of season sales, I ended up buying a 2013 Burton Feather. I’ve ridden on it for a couple of seasons now, and I feel capable of giving it a thorough review.

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I love the colors the Feather comes in each year. This is what my board looks like. Photo from here.

First, I feel like this board was a perfect board to progress on. Since buying this board, I have moved from low intermediate through solidly intermediate. I’m now moving into advanced territory, and the Feather still works well for me. I’m riding black diamond runs with confidence, take this board into powder (since we actually have some this year!), and I can ride in moderately spaced trees.

Burton described the 2013 board as

“Feather-like float for girls determined to get better. – Jump right into all-mountain fun, whether it’s your first time or 50th day. Laid-back and relaxed, the Feather’s upgrade to V-Rocker™ creates a catch-free, playful feel that’s easier on the muscles. Tapered shaping equals effortless turning and float in fresh snow while the twin flex means it’s good to go, forwards or back. Softer and more forgiving than the Social or Blender, the Feather is for the rider looking for more room to grow than they’ll get with our easiest board, the Genie.”

On the cons’ side, if you are an advanced rider who spends all of your time on steeps and in the powder, the Burton Feather might not be aggressive enough for you. I’ve found that the board sometimes “skips” on the steep sections and sinks into powder more than I like. I also don’t think that the board steers quite as well when you’re riding in switch, but I fully admit that it could be how I have the board set up.

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Photo by Greyson Howard.

I initially bought this board based on the reviews that touted its ability to take you from a beginner to an intermediate, and that is exactly what I did on this board. I’ll continue to ride this board for the rest of the 2015-16 season, but I am looking to upgrade eventually. It’s a fun board to ride, and I feel stable on groomed terrain. When riding off piste, the Feather handles different snow consistency well, and I rarely feel like I’m being thrown around, unless the snow bumps are large.

Heavenly, one of the resorts I’ve frequently ridden has A LOT of flat, narrow cat tracks that are the bane of snowboarders existence. I really noticed a difference on how much more stable the Feather felt on these flatter areas, allowing me to keep up more speed. I don’t feel like I’m constantly about to catch an edge on this board.

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Catching (a tiny bit of) air! Photo by Greyson Howard.

The Burton Feather is available in a 2016 model. Here are the specs (from Burton.com):

New for 2016: Flat Top –“A flat profile between the feet means stability, better balance, and continuous edge control. The tip and tail kick up with an early rise outside the feet for the catch-free, loose feeling you’d expect from rocker.”

Directional Shape – “The classic snowboard shape, designed to be ridden with a slightly longer nose than tail to concentrate pop in the tail while still giving you plenty of float, flow, and control to rip any terrain or condition.”

Tapered Shape – “A tapered shape means the nose is wider than the tail, promoting smooth turn entry and exit, stability at speed, and enhanced deep snow flotation.”

Flex – “The flex is perfectly symmetrical from tip to tail for a balanced ride that’s equally versatile regular or switch.”

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Burton Feather 2016 colors and respective sizes. Photo from here.

You can buy the 2016 Burton Feather here for $379.99. You can get previous years’ models in various places at a lower price, but sizes can be limited. Here’s one for for $250 and another for $275.

Bottom Line: if you are a beginner who wants to move from the greens to blues and beyond, I highly recommend the Burton Feather.

Are you a snowboarder? What board do you recommend for intermediate riders?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

My Favorite Tahoe Brands

While the Tahoe area may be made up of small towns and unincorporated areas, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have some amazing local brands and companies. Here are some of my favorites.

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Coalition Snow, Incline Village, Nevada
This ski and snowboard company Coalition Snow combines two of my favorite things: products for women by women and bright colors! Their motto “We Make Women’s Skis and Snowboards That Don’t Suck” gets right to the point.

“We’re a bunch of ladies hailing from Lake Tahoe who believe that women’s skis and snowboards shouldn’t suck. Rather than wait around for someone else to design the gear we actually want to ride, we did it ourselves. It’s that simple.”

Coalition Snow Collage
All photos by Coalition Snow

I supported their kickstarter last year, and I was rewarded with amazing leggings, a kickstarter-only tank top, a hat and adorable earrings. The leggings and tank top are perfect for yoga, and I love wearing the leggings under my snowboard pants for a hidden but awesome shot of color.

When I upgrade my snowboard in the next couple of years, I’ll definitely be looking at Coalition Snow for my purchase. Plus, how adorable is this Queen Bee All Mountain Snowboard? P.S. If you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get a weekly dose of women in adventure news, highlighted with the Coalition Snow irreverent sense of humor.

Arcade Belt Company, Olympic Valley, California
I love these belts! I own two, and I’ll be buying more as soon as I can justify the purchases of more Arcade Belts to myself.

“Arcade reinvented the most overlooked of accessories with a few sewing machines and simple ingenuity. Built with comfortable stretch materials and simple yet durable buckles, Arcade belts are designed for those that live by their own rules, choose quality over quantity and want products that fit their lifestyle.”

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All photos by Arcade Belt Co.

Personally, I love the adventure belts – they’re stretchy and comfortable, easy to adjust, and, since they have no metal, you don’t have to take them off at the airport. They’re perfect travel belts. The first one I bought was the heather gray Foundation. These belts are unisex, and I discovered that a lot of women’s pants have really narrow belt loops, so it was occasionally a struggle to feed the belt through a couple of pairs of pants. (They always fit, I’m just a little lazy when it comes to belts.) Luckily, Arcade makes a range of belt-widths. I bought The Midnighter Slim in black, and it fits through the narrowest of lady pants belt loops.

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All photos by Arcade Belt Co.

Now that I’m well stocked on neutral belts, I have my eye on some fun colors! Greyson has The Blackwood, and I occasionally borrow that one. I think it’s a prettier green in real life than in looks on the internet. Here are the ones I’m thinking about: The Larry Sherbert, The Del Mar, and The Drifter. Maybe I’ll branch out for The Kate. P.S. Do you think I could pull off these suspenders?

Alanna Hughes Pottery, Truckee, California
Greyson got me one of Alanna Hughes gorgeous ceramic coffee mugs for Valentines Day last year, and it remains one of my favorite presents ever.

Alanna Hughes Bike Mug

Aspects of Alanna’s pottery are left unglazed leaving a window to view the natural clay body. Her work is modern with a twist into nature. By using bold and vibrant colors along with elegant shapes, her clay pieces are intriguing. Her pottery is food, oven, dishwasher safe and made to be used functionally.

She makes beautiful mugs, platters, vases and other ceramic art that you can buy at Riverside Studios in downtown Truckee, and she often is selling her goods at local farmers markets and community events in the summer. She often has ceramics for sale on the Riverside Studios website, like this bike mug, similar to mine. You’ll have to come to Truckee to check out her full collection though!

bigtruck brand, Truckee, California

Hats from bigtruck are my go to gift for my non-local friends. I love their bright colors (sensing a pattern?), unique designs, ability to customize, and the fact that they are locally handmade.

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My best friend Jodi, making a “hat face” in her birthday bigtruck hat.

“Rather than a business proposition, bigtruck brand was founded on a vision to create a movement and community connecting people through creativity and fun first. Since 2010, bigtruck has specialized in the design, marketing and manufacturing of hats. From it’s initial two men team, bigtruck has evolved from a small Lake Tahoe hat company into a global community that has chosen to reflect their passion for life in what they wear. With increasing demand, bigtruck continues to strive to inspire others to live life with a fun first mentality.”

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All photos by bigtruck brand

They have a few different basic designs: the classic with their quickly-recognizable logo, the og goggle kt22 (referencing Squaw Valley’s classic lift), og om, og mcconkey (100% of proceeds go to the Shane McConkey Foundation), and happy sock beanie, among many others. While bigtruck has a ton of great hats available online, it’s totally worth it to visit their hat bar in their Truckee location. You can customize a ton of the details or check out their on-site only hats that their designers cooked up.

These are just a few of my favorite companies that call the Tahoe area home. While most of their products are available online, if you’re in the Tahoe area, I highly recommend you check out the local businesses that sell these awesome products. What are some of your favorite local brands? I’m always on the lookout for new products to try.

Note: I didn’t get any free stuff or sponsorship to say nice things about these brands. I just like them that much. None of the links are affiliate links either.