Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some gal friends and I have joked, on more than one occasion, that we're going to organize a skirt hike--y'know, a dayhike where you don't necessarily have to be a girl to participate, but you do have to wear a skirt. (That second-to-last part added purely to encourage strapping lads with flowing manes and well-defined calf-muscles to don their boots and UtiliKilts and join us.)

Though I like the rugged functionality of the UtiliKilt, let's face it, on me, it just ain't flattering! I do not have the figure to pull off wickedly thick pleats and umpteen pockets without coming off looking like Frumptonia.

I found something a little more feminine in the Royal Robbins Discovery Skirt - a flattering mixture of functionality, durability, and ehh, maybe a little fashion, too. It's cute enough to wear to a job interview or out for a cocktail, yet rugged enough to emerge from a hike unscathed.

It's made of a slightly stretchy, moisture-wicking nylon-spandex blend that is figure-flattering without binding too tightly, and UPF rated up to 50. The inside of the wide, forgiving waistband is a breatheable mesh, and there's a back zipper for easy entry (though if you're not careful there, quickzip, it tends to bind). And with three pockets - a left hip pocket with snap closure, a right hip security pocket with vertical zipper, and a velcroed cargo pocket at the hemline- there's ample (and secure) room to store enough necessaries that you could conceivably leave your purse at home.

It's lightweight, it folds easily, and it's wrinkle-resistant, making it a versatile piece for your travel wardrobe.
The sizing seems to run a wee bit large though, maybe because of the stretch. I say reach for the ego boost and order down a size--And hurry up about it, so you can go on our skirt hike!
Grade: A

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are you gonna drink that?

I bought the Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter almost a year before I started backpacking. As the trip binges started (somewhere between 2-4 backpacking trips per month), I began to see a pattern. Almost everyone I went on trips with had this filter.

At an average price of about $70.00, it's not the cheapest piece of gear on the market, and also not the most amazing. While I myself have never had a problem with it, several friends on a ten day Yosemite trip managed to break two of these bad boys, though I have heard talk of "user error" playing a hand in that. (They also broke a steri-pen.) The fact remains, most of them still use a Hiker Pro. I myself have not yet managed to break one, despite my uncanny ability to break or damage almost anything, and I believe this counts for something...

I have filtered from rivers, streams, water pumps, a trickle on a rock or even a dirty puddle in a pinch (because when someone on the trip drinks half a box of wine and gets massively dehydrated halfway through the hike out, you will do most anything), and have always managed to come out with drinkable water. It works relatively quickly, and is relatively lightweight. I would say this warrants a recommendation. Though, at the advice of EB: Don't pump too hard. You might break the handle.

Notes on use: Keep the two tubes separate to avoid contamination. You don't want to defeat the purpose of using a water filter by using it incorrectly. Also, run some water through before pulling it in your water bottle/bladder each time you use it. (You will understand why when you do this.)

Grade (Taking into account the Yosemite stories): B-