Five Adventurous Must-Reads for Summertime

Top 5 Adventurous Summertime ReadsAh, summertime. The most magical time of the year, if you ask me. Mornings are cool out on the patio sipping iced tea, afternoons are perfect for lazy tanning at the park, and evenings just beg you to cozy up in your bed with open windows. And what better accessory for all of these sublime situations than a book?

I’ll be honest, I’m a horrible reader. As a writer, I’m pretty sure I should be reading 100x more than I usually do – so I’m trying to amp up my literary chops with five fantastic adventurous books. As I complete each publication (bear with me, I read at a sloth’s pace), they’ll get their own individual reviews, but here are the five books that will keep my nose buried deep in their pages throughout the summertime. [Read more…]

Bamboo Black Magic Leggings: tasc performance review

For the adventurous, sometimes dirtbagging, sometimes ladylike woman, there is one wardrobe staple that is a non-negotiable must: black leggings. It’s the one item in your closet (or dirty hamper in your van) that can effortlessly go from boulder fields to a downtown speakeasy. I’ve put holes in more pairs of cheap cotton leggings than I can count, so when tasc Performance contacted me with a challenge to test out their women’s apparel, I responded with an eager “game on!tasc Performance leggings.

Here’s the thing about tasc: Everything is made with bamboo. My NOLA crop leggings are made with fabric concocted from 55% organic cotton, 35% viscose from bamboo, and 10% elastane. In normal people terms, that translates to: insanely soft, ridiculously comfortable, and impossibly form-fitting. The design strikes a perfect balance between athletic performance and stylishness.

As a gal who often wears leggings for days (really, weeks) on end without washing them, my first priority was to see how long I could go wearing tasc leggings before the butt area fell victim to the dreaded saggy-butt syndrome. My typical leggings will last a maximum of three days before they lose their hip-hugging shape.

These. leggings. will. not. get. saggy.  Out on a hike with my tasc performance leggings.

During my first test, I wore the leggings for four days straight, then took a few days off before wearing them for two more days before they needed to be washed (because I use my pants as napkins). Then, I just started wearing them with reckless abandon – from hikes around Colorado to airport hopping in San Diego. Ten+ days of wearing these leggings and they fit as snug as they did when I first put them on.

Excerpts from my e-mails to tasc about the leggings include snippets like, “HOW DO THESE LEGGINGS NOT STRETCH OUT IN THE BUTT? It almost makes me mad that I can’t get them to get saggy.” Also, “y’all crafted up some black magic.” Ladies, it just doesn’t make sense.

What makes tasc Performance apparel seem like a voodoo trick is the bamboo technology they perfected. By ditching the usual polyester material used in athletic clothing, they solved major issues like skin irritation, breathability, odor, and that whole sagging issue I keep bringing up. The bamboo also offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun and moisture wicking.Rocking my tasc performance gear on a press trip to San Diego.

While I usually pay around $10 for leggings, the tasc leggings proved themselves worthy of the ~$50 investment. Their durability has taken me from climbing trips to city slicking without a single snag, and I am confident that I’ll have them in my closet for years.

Bonus points: tasc Performance make everything you need to stay cozy (and looking good) while adventuring. I also have the Intensity Sports Bra – which I liked, but didn’t totally love the style of, a pair of well-fitted socks that magically don’t make my feet stink, and a tank top (pictured above) that feels like I’m wrapped in a cloud every time I wear it. I’m currently coveting their grey Contour Fleece.

Disclosure: tasc Performance provided me with a complimentary package of clothing for gear-testing purposes – but as always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

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. 

Find the best (and worst) restaurants, local shops, accomodations, and more with me on Yelp

Writing restaurant, salon, and small business deal copy for LivingSocial has exposed me to the wonderful interweb resource that is Yelp. An outlet for rabid rants about poor customer service, rambling rave reviews about outrageous eateries, and a general source of excellent information, this site allows users – Yelpers, if you will – to contribute their opinions to a pool of star-rated write-ups that ultimately offer insight to the best, and worst, establishments in town.

Having to use Yelp reviews on a daily basis to gather information about merchants for whom I am assigned to write creative LivingSocial copy for, it was only a matter of time before I created my own account and began yelping. I quickly realized that this newfound addiction was a perfect companion for The Morning Fresh – it allows me to share my experiences at establishments all over the country.

Readers, whether you’re looking for a nosh-worthy Cuban joint in Key West, a home style eatery where you can score saucy barbeque in Mississippi, the best place to thrift in Tallahassee, or a sweet shop filled with secondhand climbing gear in Colorado, my Yelp reviews will help you find what you’re looking for. It’s admittedly a work in progress, but crafting Yelp reviews based on my travels has become a preferable distraction over my usual musings on Facebook.

Check out my Yelp reviews here.

Got an account of your own? I’d love to link up.