The easiest tent you’ll ever own: Review of the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent

Here’s the first full review from my Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Adventurers.
Check it out, and stay tuned for the rest of the reviews!

Picture this: You’ve finally arrived at your campsite – and it’s now 2:30 AM. You’re exhausted from the drive, but your car is too jam-packed with adventure equipment to allow for sleeping comfortably in it. What’s the last thing you want to do right now? Spend ten minutes fumbling with tent poles and hooks in order to snag a wistful few hours of sleep before waking up and deconstructing your tent all over again.

Major bummer, dude.

Now picture this: Same late-night camping scenario, same levels of I-just-want-to-sleep, but now you’ve got a Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent. You grab the bright yellow sack that holds your tent, unroll it, and within about 45 seconds, you’re ready for bed. You snuggle up in your sleeping bag while your buddies fumble around with their clunky tents.

Niko sets up our Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent at Grandfather Mountain Campground in NC.

Major victory, dude!

When Niko and I received our Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, we were elated – even more so when we managed to go from a sealed package to a set-up tent in less than three minutes. And that was our first time EVER setting it up. We were both instantly impressed, but the real test came when we took the Teton Sports tent on its first adventure to North Carolina for the Hound Ears Triple Crown climbing competition.

After keeping us cozy through misty mountain mornings, light afternoon rain, and some pretty gnarly wind gusts – the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent passed our camping test with flying floors.

Here’s what I love about the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent:

  • It is the easiest tent I have ever camped with. Both set-up and take-down are simple tasks that take less than a minute.
  • It packs down extremely easy, and the roomy stuff sack doesn’t require a battle to get the tent packed away. With a weight of only 4 lbs, it’s light and easy to carry.
  • The tent was designed as a topper for camping cots, but the waterproof base and sturdy structure makes it an ideal tent for ground camping as well (I have only used it directly on the ground).
  • Where many tents offer a small window or two, the Outfitter XXL is entirely wrapped with see-through mesh, so if the weather allows you to go without the rain-fly, you can wake up surrounded by natural beauty.
  • When the rain-fly is up, there is an ample vestibule area for keeping your dirty hiking boots sheltered from the elements without dragging them into the tent. Plus, the rain-fly is easily assembled with four simple clip-ons.
  • While a larger person may find this to be a one-man tent, Niko and I fit perfectly together in it. This is a great tent for adventure couples.
  • It’s my favorite color – and it totally matches my big yellow van.

Peek-a-boo, that's me creeping inside my Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent.There is only a single caveat I have with the world’s easiest tent: there are no pockets. But what I love about Teton Sports is their amazing receptiveness to user feedback. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if their next tent release features a pocket.

The bottom line: I would highly recommend this tent. It retails at $100, but could easily sell for upwards for $200. The value can’t be beat, but it’s the impossibly simple set-up that will win you over instantly.

Don’t believe my rave reviews about how quickly this tent sets up? Check it out for yourself:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctjyEtu8coo]

Want more from the folks at Teton Sports?
Send ‘em your thoughts on Twitter, or check out the Teton Sports Facebook page
– they’re always hosting giveaways and posting great outdoor content!

It’s a miracle: I no longer loathe metal water bottles – Eco Bottle Review and Giveaway!

Let me make one thing very clear before I begin this review:

I have always hated metal water bottles.

They taste like metal, smell like metal, feel like metal (does the feeling of metal ever make anyone else’s teeth cringe?). When I was first approached by Eco Bottle to sample one of their products, I was extremely skeptical – but they were so stoked about their BPA-free, dishwasher-safe bottle that I was convinced to give it a shot.

I stuck to my stubborn anti-metal convictions even as I opened up my Eco Bottle package, but was instantly softened when I unwrapped what remains as my favorite feature of this water bottle – a thick, bendy straw attachment. I love straws for their superior sip-ability, and adore this genius little bonus feature. Opening and closing water bottles is one of the reasons I’ve begun to lean towards hydration packs, so it’s refreshing to see a bottle brand looking to solve the issue of needing to grab-gulp-n-go while you’re out and about.

My emerald green bottle took its maiden voyage on a bike ride from my house to the Tallahassee Rock Gym on a mild evening. The body fit perfectly into my water bottle holder, and I was pleased that my water remained a pleasant temperature throughout the duration of my ride. My perception that metal water bottles are always an inferno was debunked. I’d chalk it up to the inner body coating, perhaps that aids in temperature regulation? I think the liner also attributes to the lack of a metallic taste in the bottle; I left my water sitting in the bottle for an entire week and it never tasted funky.

There was just one issue I ran into during my first adventure with the Eco Bottle – it’s not a no-brainer to open up. I naively filled it with water, screwed on the top, stuck on the mouthpiece attachment, and sped off on my road bike. Halfway through a monstrous hill, I paused to hastily gulp from my bottle – and was unable to suck out even a drop of water. Oops. 

I hadn’t properly opened the top piece, which was not something I was able to accomplish until after my parched ride. Once I realized the very easy screw motion necessary to open it up, the water was flowin’. So make sure you actually open your bottle before you head out! I also noticed a few little dents on the bottle’s body from my bike’s water bottle holder – but as an adventure gal, I like it when my gear bears the marks of being well loved.

Overall, I am a woman converted. I really love this metal bottle.

[Read more…]

A harness disguised as khaki shorts, and a climbing skort for ladies?

I was recently approached by fellow lady adventurer Amy Jurries of The Gearcaster to assist her with a new product review – which led me to a few truly unusual (and maybe awesome) discoveries in innovational climbing gear.

I’m usually a pretty verbose gal, but I think I’ll let the images do the speaking before I get all wordy – check out these two pieces of Mammut apparel:

Seriously – WHAT?!

Personally, my mind is most blown by the Realization shorts; a fully-functional harness disguised as a pair of casual khaki shorts. Is this real life? I was immediately impressed, but when I showed my male housemates, they didn’t seem as convinced. We dove into a discussion about all the areas where this seemingly fantastic concept might fail: How comfortable would it be to wear that the entire day? Does the butt part of the fabric bunch up while you’re climbing? (As a climbing photographer, that is actually a legit thing to consider; I don’t want saggy asses ruining my shots!)

When it comes to the women’s Refine skort, the boys all giggled at the idea of a skirt built for climbing – but you’ll just have to wait for my review to come out on The Gearcaster to find out how it really works out! I’m still pretty wowed by the little velcro straps in the front of the skirt designed to let you pull your harness leg straps up while maintaining the skirt-y shape – pretty darn interesting idea!

What do you think about the Realization harness shorts,
or the Mammut women’s climbing skort?

Would you wear either one of these? 

Turning sweat into a renewable resource with Omni-Freeze Zero gear technology – and a sweet, sweet neck gaiter.

A fan of thrifty scores and budget-friendly gear, it’s quite difficult for a brand to get me truly hyped on so-called innovations. I feel like I’ve heard it all, and I’ve never been a believer – until now.

The first two days of my Arizona adventure with Columbia Sportswear and the OmniTen team revolved around a fabulous industry event designed to preview the upcoming Spring 2013 line and unveil Columbia’s latest (and greatest) innovation: OmniFreeze Zero.

Since recruiting me onto their inaugural OmniTen team, Columbia Sportswear has wooed me with a range of excellent outdoor apparel. The Omni-Wick Evap feature in my Compounder Dry Shell has kept me dry through Floridian rainstorms; the Omni-Grip in my PeakFreak trail shoes quickly became a standard for my hikes and climbing approaches; and the Omni-Heat Reflective fabric in my new sleeping bag offers undeniably optimized warmth – but none compare to my adoration for the new OmniFreeze Zero products.

So how does it work?

First, check out the video.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNfLu3qfJUQ]

One of the first things you’ll notice about apparel infused with Omni-Freeze technology is the pattern of little raised blue rings on the inside of the fabric. These small circles use cooling polymer to create a noticeable cooling sensation when exposed to sweat and moisture. And it works.

In the spirit of Trying Things, Columbia Sportswear armed me with a variety of Omni-Freeze Zero products to put to the test during our three-day hike to Havasu Falls through the Grand Canyon. I received two performance short sleeved shirts (you can get a sneak peek of the mens’ version here), the Trail Dryer hat (a triple whammy with Omni-Shade UPF 40 sun protection, Omni-Wick evaporation, AND Omni-Freeze sweat activated cooling technology), and my personal favorite, the Freezer Zero neck gaiter.

During grueling hike to and from Havasu Falls in Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon, temperatures reached over 100 degrees, and there was often no shade to be found. While both my hat and shirt contributed to keeping me cool during the scorching sections of the hike, it was my neck gaiter that acted as my true savior.

Rather than simply relying on my sweat, which I found to evaporate way too quickly in the dry Arizona air, I made a habit of keeping my gaiter wet with water from fresh streams or my hydration pack. It was unbelievably refreshing – and versatile. It served perfectly as a simple neck buff, but I really loved wearing it as a headband as well. Another great way to rock the gaiter is pulling it up over your ears and down your chin – it works great to keep dusty and sand out of your lungs. I’m accustomed to the humid air of the southeast, so pulling the moist, cool cloth over my mouth and nose acted as a great tool against the harsh dry conditions I was hiking in.

Seriously, get yourself the Freezer Zero Neck Gaiter.

You’ll have to wait until spring 2013 to get your hands on all the fabulous Omni-Freeze Zero gear,
but trust me, it’s worth the wait.