Sunday, March 11, 2018

Gear Review: 5 Lightweight Backpacking Stoves

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Gear Post: Long Distance Trail and Backpacking Gear Research.

Warning: Gear Post!

Summer 2017: Long Distance Trail and Backpacking Gear Research:

In my spare time I like to research hiking and backpacking gear. (If that makes you yawn you should probably quit reading this post now.) I watch PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and CDT (Continental Divide) through-hikes and gear review videos and I strive to find the best mix of quality, cost and ultralight gear I can. I scour ultralight gear reviews by Triple Crown Hikers (meaning they’ve hiked all three major long distance trails: the AT (Appalachian Trail,) the CDT (incredible 38min overview through-hike video here) and the PCT.) I text gear finds back and forth with my best friend Rachel, who has turned me toward some amazing finds and hiker channels on YouTube. (Follow Dixie’s 2017-PCT throughhike here.) I scour to find desirable equipment lightly used for a fraction of the cost and I plan.

In case you also want to live vicariously through these long distance hikers, check them out!

Darwin On the Trail

Homemade Wanderlust
Will’s YouTube Channel:

Here’s my list of what I would carry if I were to leave and hike the Appalachian Trail tomorrow:

My current pack:

Osprey Aura 65L; Cost: about $200 now. 4lb, 2oz.
Outside review of pack.
Dream pack: Zpacks Arc Blast; 55L, $325. 21 ounces!
Check it out. 

Additional dream gear: Inside pack dry bags: ZPacks cuben fiber dry bags + food bag.

My current sleep pad: Klymit Inertia O-Zone. 12.2 ounces, cost: $45-80 online.
Here’s my video review of it.

Sitting pad for camp: None currently.
Most popular pad on trails: Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite Mattress. $129. 15.2 ounces.

Dream gear sitting pad for camp: Folding sit-pad by DutchGear; $7, 18 GRAMS!

Another popular one: Therm-a-rest Z-Seat
$15, 2oz
My current sleeping bag/quilt:
Custom EnLIGHTened Equipment Revelation 40 degree quilt. Cost: ~250.
Dream Quilt: Custom EnLIGHTened Equipment Enigma 20 degree quilt. $355.00, 16.83 oz. (Takes 6 weeks to make custom quilt in USA and ship.)

Alternative idea for a budget: Aegis Max down bag $73 on Amazon, 16oz. 35-40 degree bag comfort. 

My current Tent:
L.L.Bean Microlight Solo, Weight: 1lb 14oz. Cost: $299, or less during their tent sale.

Add titanium stakes to replace current ones for more weight savings. 

See Dixie's demo of setting up the Duplex with trekking poles here.
My current water filter: Platypus system with bladder bags. 11.5oz. Cost: ~$100.
What I would take instead:

Katadyn Be Free filter and .6L soft bag with wide scoop. Twice as fast as the Sawyer Squeeze. ($39.99) 2 oz. See demo here.
 *Editor's Choice Backpacker Award 2017

Also popular: the Sawyer Squeeze products. Made in Safety Harbor, FL!
My current rain jacket: L.L.Bean Trail Model Rain Jacket. (16 oz) $80

Pants: Columbia rain pants 9.6oz $50.
Dream Rain Jacket: Marmot Essence Rain Jacket (5 oz!) $100-140+

Pants: Same or Marmot pants. 8.6 oz.

Maybe aluminum cork handled poles if I break more than a pair or two. (Sturdier and less prone to break than the carbon fiber for a weight penalty.)
Hiking Clothes needed:

Hiking: Tee-shirt, hiking tights, bra/underwear. Down sweater. Hat. Gaiters. Trail running shoes. Darn tough hiking socks. Seal Skinz socks for rainy days.

Sleeping: Thermal long sleeve and pants. Wool socks. Backup pair of underwear.

Rain gear: Jacket, pants, gloves, warm hat.
Popular brands/types:

Socks: Darn Tough, Smart Wool, Seal Skinz, sock liners, Injinji sport toe socks.

Shirts: Flash dry/wicking. Merino wool.

Underwear: ExOfficio.

Clothing brands: Patagonia, North Face, Marmot, L.L.Bean, Outdoor Research, Columbia, REI, Eddie Bauer, Dirty Girl Gaiters.

Cooking system:
Basic Titanium alcohol stove 1.83oz ($30) 
 and denatured alcohol ($2/12oz Heet (yellow bottle) Methanol) plus lighter.  Read about alcohol fuel stoves here. 
Ideally: Go stove-less.
More Cooking gear:
None purchased.
Dream gear: Toaks titanium pot (500-700ml; 3oz) and a titanium spork

Recent gear purchases: While I did give up three weeks of my summer to teach summer school and camp, I did vastly enjoy spending time with the kids, and there was the added bonus of having extra funds to research and buy some new gear! Here’s what I found on eBay:

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Women’s 800 fill down jacket/sweater:

Retail: $99+
I paid (eBay) $68.64, shipping included.

Saved: $30.36.

Patagonia Capilene Women’s hiking tee-shirts:

Retail: $39.00;
I bought three and paid: $8.99, $4.50, and $13.98, plus shipping for two.

Saved: $82.00.

Patagonia Capilene Women’s long sleeve shirt:

Retail: $29.00
I paid: $10.49 shipping included,

Saved: $18.51.

Patagonia Water Girl tee-shirt (non wicking):

Retail: ~$35.00
I counter offered/accepted/paid: $8 with shipping included.

Saved: $27.00

Patagonia Women’s R1 Fleece jacket pullover:
Retail: $77 in this color. (More in others.)
I paid: $23.29 including shipping.

Saved: $53.71.

Zella (Nordstrom Athletic brand) wicking tee-shirt:

Retail: $45.00
eBay: $16.95, Made a counter offer/accepted and I paid: $12.95 (free shipping)

Saved: $32.05

Total savings for gear found on eBay: $243.63.

Another great discount gear website is Massdrop: where they order mass amounts of an item and offer it at a steep discount. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Blog Feature: Mauro Morandi, Remote Island Caretaker living like Thoreau.

I recently read a National Geographic article about a man who has lived alone on Budelli Island between Corsica and Sardenia for 28 years, speaks Italian, and who very recently got WIFI on the island. I looked him up on Twitter to ask if he had any wisdom  or advice for people from his perspective of living mostly in solitude and we had the following conversation. (Translated with Google Translate.) Let me know if you would like me to ask him any questions! I'd be happy to tweet him!

 In Italian:
 In English: 

Aimee: Tweeting from his isolated island! (With tag.)

Mauro Morandi: Hello!

Aimee: Good morning from Tampa, Florida, USA! I'm following your story: you're inspiring! Do you have any messages or wisdom for my young students on how best to live life? We'd like to hear from you, Mr. Morandi. Thank you for your time. -Aimee

Mauro Morandi: "It's not easy to give advice. I can only recommend reading of Antigone of Sofocle [by Sophocles]: To disobey human laws contrary to divine laws. Divine laws that are in us are superior to human laws."

Aimee: Thank you so much!

  So it's time to get reading! It's been eighteen years since I've read Antigone. I'll let you know what wisdom I garner from the title when I've finished! 
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Friday, July 21, 2017

"New-Life Diet," by Aimee Nadow.

"New-Life Diet," by Aimee Nadow: 
How educating myself and overhauling a modern diet changed my energy, optimism, and weight loss goals. 

(Disclaimer: The following information is intended as educational and is not meant to be followed without the advice and permission of your doctor and nutritionist. The foods and videos below are chosen by myself and I did not receive compensation for any of them.)

Stage 1: 2005-2012
'Eat Right For Your Blood Type': In 2005 I was hospitalized because of a week of Tropical Smoothies which lead to toxic leaching into my stomach, learned more about my blood type, and then struggled to find all of the right vitamins and nutrients after cutting out lots of processed foods, and you can read my story here

Stage 2: 2012-2014 
The Asian diet: In 2012 I went "gluten free" for two years and ate a mostly Asian diet while hosting Chinese foreign exchange students. I struggled at first with gluten withdrawal, and then the quick weight loss and energy boost eventually went away as I added gluten back into my diet at the end of 2014.

Stage 3: 2015-mid 2017
Pregnancy and Postpartum: I had the delightful experience of Hyperemesis gravidarum (morning sickness for duration of pregnancy,) gestational diabetes and preeclampsia: yay! I ate what I could. Postpartum I nursed for ten months and ate what helped, and naturally my weight dropped, then went back up again when I stopped nursing. 

Stage 4: July 2017-present
"Go Big or Go Home:" Everyone has different dietary needs and restrictions. I've been dogging my own for years so I decided to cut out everything that I think is causing my dietary challenges or may be unhealthy for me in some way. I decided to stick with the following (Thyroid, Adrenals, and Lymph-node healing) diet: 

-No caffeine*
-No dairy
-No gluten
-No added sugar(s)
-Add apple cider vinegar for acetic acid 1-2x/week
-High protein/fiber oatmeal for breakfast everyday
-Add vitamin (whole food)
-Reishi tea detox (every few days)
-Daily calorie limit 1500-1700 plus any extra from exercise 
-Exercise 30 min+ (3-4x/week)
-Add sleep/more REM
-MINIMAL processed foods (trying to eat foods with less than five natural ingredients) 

WEEK 3: 12.5 pounds lost total
UPDATE! Week 4: 13.4 pounds lost total

*I know all of you coffee lovers were cringing and considering ex-ing out of your browser as soon as you read 'no caffeine.' If you're committed to consuming coffee/caffeine and you want some great recommendations of my favorite blends from when I was a coffee addict check out my coffee review. If you're a tea drinker and that thought also makes you cringe you can check out my blog post: "The powers of tea! A review of my favorite blends."   or, my blog post: "The secrets of Chinese Green tea." 

But if you're GENUINELY interested in weight loss or nutrition or body health then I think you should forge ahead and learn a little about your adrenals and why you have to heal them (cutting sugar and caffeine) before you're going to get any results even if you're a warrior in the gym. 

Caffeine Detox duration: 6 days (only 3 bad days) of withdrawal symptoms.
No caffeine day 1: random feeling of alertness/wakefulness
No caffeine day 2: extra energy; did two workouts!
No caffeine days 3-5: Tough days. Uncharacteristically weepy emotions and general frustration. Luckily, still married. 
No caffeine: days 6-current: No cravings for coffee, only any 'hot' beverage in the morning; craving lasts for only about fifteen minutes (old habit) and then goes away.
(For "cheat" days during and post caffeine detox: Decaffinated almond milk or soy Starbucks latté with sugar-free vanilla and their Canadian bacon certified gluten free breakfast sandwich.)

Gluten Detox and Sugar Detox duration: 14+ days of symptoms.
My Gluten detox did not coincide with my caffeine detox so that I could better monitor the overall withdrawal symptoms. It was worse than the caffeine detox. Many days of a zombie-like "brain fog." The thought of eating gluten by accident and having to start that detox all over again is frightening. 
So why did I go to these diet changing extremes? I learned that I had completely worn out my adrenal glands from decades of caffeine intake and sugar consumption and that my lymph nodes were chronically swollen and I wanted to heal them. These issues are fairly common amongst Americans. To learn how to test for adrenal fatigue watch the following video and the subsequent educational videos which is how I also educated myself about the topic. 

Or, skip below the videos, to see some of the foods that I've been eating for that past month or so.

Adrenal and Lymph Node educational videos: (Content intended for adults.)

Now, here are some of the foods that I've added into my diet to replace old habits or to add newer, healthier choices in:

 1. Bone broth by Bonafide. 
 2. Dairy-free probiotics: Due to the fruit, this has a higher natural sugar content then I would like, so I only consume about 4oz, every other day.
 3. So Delicious Coconut "Cool-whip," as a dairy-free dessert replacement, just add frozen fruit for a delightfully refreshing dessert.
3. Daily oatmeal breakfast: High protein AND fiber. 190 cal/bowl. Two delicious flavors.  No heavy gunky normal "oatmeal" flavor.

 4. Citrus water for vitamin benefits; organic fruits (less) instead of traditional pesticide ones.
 5. Almond milk and coconut/almond milk substitute. Delicious and high in calcium. Super low (40) calories/serving.
6. Ice cream replacement: So delicious Coconut Milk "ice cream" alternative. High in calories and guilt, delicious flavor.
 7. Whole food multivitamin for better absorption. (Allegedly.)
8. Apple cider vinegar: the horror! The Horror! It's godawful. Mix with water. Take a chaser. 1-2x/week. Great before red meat to aid digestion. Great for getting rid of colds.
 9. Husband-approved tea: Reishi detox mushroom blend, one bag for a medium kettle, add a tablespoon of organic local honey (read about the horrors of imported honey here if you care) and shred one of the organic ginger-fingers (skin on) over the kettle and let steep from boiling for ten minutes before drinking. I can feel my lymph nodes clearing after this one.
 10. Dying-for-gluten snacks: these "hit the spot," for moments of preceived weakness: Glutino "pretzels," Vans GF cereals and cereal bars and crackers, and veggie chips.
 11. But what do you eat for lunch? The salsas for my veggie chips.
 12. But I just want a brownie/cupcake/treat! Try these coconut macaroon-style bites. Good god, so scrumptious!

13. I can't live without pizza/bread/fried chicken: No you shouldn't have to. Here are some good options!

Finally: Get a fitness/weight/nutrition/calorie App Tracker. I like: My Net Diary Pro. I've been using it for four years and I love the Lifetime weight and exercise tracking charts. ($3.99) This app also helps me track nutrients so that I can be sure I'm getting the right nutrition.

Final health plug: If you're interested in tracking cholesterol or your iron you can always give blood and find out for free! Plus, saving lives is a bonus!