Category Archives: gear

Cooking at camp

440One thing I’ve been a bit worried about from the beginning has been cooking while I’m out on the trail.  I’m not a particularly good cook on a normal day with a full kitchen, and there’s also the fact that I’m a relatively picky eater as well.  Add that with heartburn/reflux issues and you’ve got a big mess to figure out really.

Which is part of why I opted for a slightly larger and more flexible stove option when I just bought my camp stove.  I talked to an employee at REI for a little while about it, and he pointed out that the Primus Yellowstone Classic Trail Stove is a heavier stove (by quite a bit actually) but that it is a little more able to do more than just boil a couple cups of water.  It’s got a larger surface area for putting different kinds of cookware on it.

So that’s what I decided to go with, I figure I’ll try to camp with it for a little while doing shorter hikes and if I end up at a point where I’m trying to carve out ounces then I’ll look at a slightly smaller stove.

Another consideration was that a lot of the other stoves I looked at came with a particular cup or pot that fitted onto it, which was nice but a little more expensive than getting this one and a small cookset for one.  I also like the cookset because it’s a little bit more useful than just an attached pot, and again can be used with more than one type of stove.  So if this one doesn’t work out, there’s an option for me to get a new stove.  Plus, I’m a sucker for things that stack together into smaller packaging, it’s very cool design.  Now one problem is that the GSI cookset is supposed to also store your stove and fuel canister, and I don’t think that both of those will fit with the Primus stove being a little larger than most.  But I figure I’ll work that out when it becomes an issue.

I’ve also tried a few different Mountain House food packages, and it’s been a mixed bag.  The reviews from other customers on REI have been very useful, now that I know to listen to them.  The first type I tried was terrible, and the reviews said so (I can’t remember what it was, some kind of Asian inspired noodle dish).  But the spaghetti and the biscuits with gravy that I tried later were both good.  The calorie counts are a bit high, but I figure all camp food is probably going to be that way and I’ll be working off a heck of a lot more calories than usual on those days anyway.  The biscuits and gravy were pretty salty though, just as a warning.  I think it was the sausage that was mixed in.

Now I just need to buy my fuel canister and a few more pouches of food to try actually out on the trail.  I’m looking forward to it.

Posted in food, gear.

Fitbit Charge HR First Impressions

2015-05-22 16.39.25So I finally caved and ordered a FitBit Charge HR because REI was having a deal, and I was already planning on upgrading anyway.  There were only a couple things I was hesitating about, first I had only just bought my FitBit Flex in September, so upgrading so quickly felt like a waste of money.  Though to be honest, I really wanted a heart rate monitor with my fitness tracker in the first place, and almost went with a different brand to try to get that function but then it turned out that none of the ones on the market at the time really offered it.

I also wanted to see if they would release any new band colors because unlike the Flex, the Charge HR isn’t able to be switched out to have a new color with the same tracker.  If I couldn’t switch the band color, I really, really wanted to get my Charge HR in red.

But it’s been around six months since they announced the new products and no new colors are on the horizon.  I’ve seen the announcements about the slate and tangerine wristbands, but I’ve not known anybody who actually physically has those, and in the end black is the better choice for me anyway if I can’t have red.

The other reason I wanted to wait six months was because I wanted to make sure they’d gotten all the kinks out.  One of my co-workers got a Charge HR a few months ago, and I’ve been asking her about her experience and what her device does, and there have been some really glowing reviews lately so I figured that coupled with the sale meant it was time.

I’ve only been wearing the Charge HR for a few days so far, but I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s got all the things I like about my Flex but a lot of extras. I love having a watch feature, I’ve missed knowing what time it was.  And since I have a heart condition and generally like to have a heart rate monitor handy, this is perfect for me.  Plus no more math to figure out how many dots equals how much towards my goal.

There’s a few things I’m still getting used to so far.  First, figuring out how to wear it.  How tight should it be, how far up my arm, all that stuff.  It takes a bit more getting used to than I expected.  I read everything in their materials about the topic, but I’m still not sure if I’m doing it right.  Maybe I should search out some user YouTube videos.

A second concern is the sleep tracking.  I’ve had a bit of trouble with it’s automatic sleep tracking features, but they are possibly related to ongoing issues with the dashboard instead of the tracker itself.  Usually my app and my web dashboard don’t say any sleep is logged, but when I go to manually enter it, it’s magically appeared.  This morning, it just had no sleep log at all and it decided I was asleep most of the morning after I got up (it marked me as awake, just also as a sleep log).  I never minded needing to put the Flex in sleep mode, and it’s not really that much of a big deal to manually enter when I went to bed and got up, but it seems like maybe if it’s supposed to be a major feature it should be a bit more functional.  Maybe it’ll work the kinks out over time.

The last thing is a bit superficial and cosmetic, but the band isn’t perfect. The waffle pattern on the plastic looks great, but it seems to collect dust and dirt in a way and is hard to keep always looking nice.  It also is a type of plastic that really makes you sweat more underneath it, and in the muggy humidity of Virginia’s summer I don’t need help with that. I wish they offered some sort of liner band made of moisture wicking fabric to help offset the issue, because sweat interferes with the heart rate tracker so it loses functionality simply because of the material in the band.

In general, I’m really happy with my upgrade.  I love testing the new features and figuring out how it works, I think my sleep tracking, once I make sure it’s got the right times listed, is more accurate than before.  I wish it did a few more things, but no tracker is going to be perfect.

I’ll have a stronger opinion later, but I’d say if you have a Flex and love it, stick with it for now.  But if you’re joining the world of FitBit, I’d go for the Charge HR of what they’re currently offering.

Posted in FitBit, gear.

Gear acquired

440Thanks to REI’s anniversary sale, I’ve now ordered the first of some of my big ticket items for this experiment, a tent.

I finally decided to buy a membership to REI a few months ago after I realized that it’s only a one time fee, and not something where you have to renew the card every year, which makes it by far one of the best deals out there for membership cards.

So this tent is normally $129.99, but thanks to the sale and a 20% off coupon for members, we picked it up for only $71.73.  Really not a bad price for a three man tent.

I also grabbed some more food to try out, a new camp chair that should be more comfortable when we’re car camping, and I’m upgrading to the Fitbit Charge HR, which I’ll review once it comes in and I’ve had a chance to use it.  I’m looking forward to it.

Posted in gear.

Getting geared up

One of the tricks with starting to walk more regularly is that I’m starting to find all the gaps and problems in my wardrobe.  In general, I’m not much of a clothes person and there are a lot of reasons for that.  But I just don’t really own a huge selection of things in the first place.

Which became a problem kind of quickly.  People like to say that walking around is an exercise anybody can do for free.  That’s technically true, but I found out really quickly how miserable it can be.  I started this thing (this time around anyway) at the start of September, which is when it’s still quite hot in this area.  But there’s also starting to be hints of how bad winter is going to get.

Which means I figured out fast that I needed clothes that helped me cool off in the heat, keep warm in the winter, and stay dry when it starts raining.  And basically all I had were t-shirts and some ratty old tennis shoes I’ve owned for three years.

51pwfCn25jL._SL1500_When I first decided that I needed to get some actual athletic clothes, I hit all the online shopping places I usually go to when I need something new. Because the trick is, as a plus size woman, there’s almost nowhere that I can shop in person and actually find quality clothes that fit.

But then I discovered that none of my normal online stores carried active wear, or they didn’t carry it past a size 18 or so.  It was baffling to me, exactly what in the world are larger women supposed to do when they want to start getting fit?  I suppose the answer is “be uncomfortable until society deems them fit to rejoin them” or something.

Then I decided to actually go to the mall and try some stuff on and I got a big shock – actual athletic clothing manufacterers make clothes with normal sizing.  As in, not vanity sizing, and not the stupid stuff I’ve gotten used to.  Once I actually started trying on clothes at an Under Armour store, I realized that I could actually fit their stuff.

Of course, that made me go a little overboard, because finding a high quality brand that had stuff in my size is a bit of a shock.  But now I’ve started building up a nice wardrobe of a variety of styles and layers for different kinds of weather.  I also managed to snag some really good deals at the REI Outlet website.

It’s surprising how much better walking has gotten now that I have some proper shirts, and even more so that I have good socks.  Now to just get some new shoes to go with it, which is going to be painful because a good pair of walking shoes is really expensive, but I know my feet will thank me for it.

Posted in gear.