Category Archives: Gear

Our New Tent

Like other REI co-op members, we received our annual dividend a few weeks ago. And like many of them, we promptly spent it.

Last year, we spent our dividend on backpacks for our [failed] Yosemite High Sierra Camp Trip.

Side Note: I saw that they started plowing the Tioga Road in Yosemite this week. Pretty sure that this High Sierra season will go off without a hitch. Just our luck ┬á ­čÖü

So what did we pick up this year?

Backpacking Tent

Since our first try at backpacking was foiled, we’re taking a new approach. We had the packs. Now we have the tent. We haven’t planned a specific trip yet, but we’ve discussed some easy trip options here in Wisconsin. I’ll keep you posted.

As for the tent, I had read good things about REI’s Half Dome tents, so we chose the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. With a husband measuring in at a height of 6’5″, the extra room of the Plus version wasn’t just for luxury, it’s a necessity.

Now that the major pieces of the backpacking puzzle are in place, it’s time to plan an actual trip. Of course, it will have to wait until we return from Yellowstone. That trip is approaching fast!

Review: Columbia Omni-Heat Base Layers

It was around 10┬░ during our candlelight hike a few weekends ago. Coupled with the snow, it made for a chilly night. When I originally planned our date, we had yet to receive any snow beyond a dusting. Temperatures were near 40┬░/50┬░. I figured it would just be a colder than usual hike for us. When the snow hit and temperatures dropped, I decided to keep our plans as they were. It made for a perfect opportunity to test out my new base layers from Columbia: the midweight long sleeve stripe top and midweight stripe tight.


Both pieces make use of Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology. The inside of each garment is covered in silver, reflective dots, making it look very space-age but keeping you very warm. Both also incorporate Omni-Wick in high-perspiration zones, keeping you dry in all the right spots. There are antimicrobial properties to the fabric, so you continue to feel and smell fresh while being active. While the pieces are very form fitting, the fabric is very stretchy and comfortable.


I wore the tights under my regular jeans. They actually made me feel slimmer – not at all bulky. It was like wearing Spanx, but without the discomfort. I don’t know that I looked skinnier, but mind over matter. Maybe I should start wearing them under jeans all the time┬á ­čśë

Because the colorful stipe pattern is so cute, I decided to treat the top like a regular long sleeve shirt. I would never wear it alone unless I magically turned into a super model (remember – very form fitting), but it worked layered under a short sleeve top. I thought it was casual-date-night cute with the sleeves showing and just a hint of the collar peeking out through my v-neck.

Performance-wise, I am in love! I am always cold – always. I already had a good experience with the Omni-Heat in my Heat Elite jacket, so I had high hopes. I wasn’t disappointed. Wearing the tights under jeans, the long sleeve baselayer under another shirt (short sleeve), topped off with my Heat Elite jacket, I was perfectly comfortable in the 10┬░ weather. Only my hands were cold – my gloves weren’t equipped for long-term cold exposure. So I stuck my gloved hands in my jacket pockets – problem solved. I have never been so toasty in the winter cold while┬ásimultaneously┬áfeeling sleek and slim. Perfection!

If you are looking to invest in good base layers for your winter activities, I would highly recommend the the midweight baselayers from Columbia. I’m even more excited to get out in the snow regularly with my new snowshoes…if we ever see snow again.

Floating on Snow

Last weekend, I finally tried out the snowshoes!

I didn’t trapse around too much. We just headed out to our land. Jason attempted to burn some brush (fail), so I took the opportunity to try my new gear.

My snowshoes weren’t the only new gear I was using. I donned my new┬ásnow pants, Omni-Heat gloves,┬áVasque Breeze hiking boots, and┬áColumbia Triple Trail Shell that I’m testing out for I’m like glow-in-the-dark in that thing! No losing me in the woods.

So what were some of my thoughts after my inaugural snowshoe outing?

  • I was a little surprised at first that I sunk into the snow. I thought something was wrong, but it wasn’t. Snowshoes just distribute your weight over a larger area so your foot doesn’t sink as much into the snow. This is called flotation.
  • I quickly experienced both how much easier it is to walk in the snow with snowshoes and what a good workout snowshoeing will be. It was so nice not to have my foot sink into a hole with every step.
  • Your foot sinks more in the powdery snow, less in the more compact, iced-over snow.
  • My shoes came with poles, but we forgot to put the powder baskets on the ends before leaving the house. Just FYI – There is no point in using the poles without the powder baskets. They just sink in the snow.
  • It is going to be really fun hitting a real trail in my snowshoes. It was a little uneventful walking around our small clearing, but it was an excellent way to get used to the shoes.

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