Ramblers Way suits this rambler

The parcel from Ramblers Way arrived with perfect timing. I was packing for a 20-day, 6,000 mile, truck-camping trip to Ramblers-Way-Farm-logoMaine and back. I might see a washer and dryer at the midway point, but nice-looking, packable, stink-resistant tops would be key. They’d have to be versatile: for city and country, for hiking and reporting stints. They’d have to be warm or cool, depending on weather conditions over three weeks and 20 states.

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Like the perfectly chosen audio book or the most comfortable pair of hiking shoes, these tops were the tops. They helped make the trip easy and enjoyable.

I tried the women’s Henley tank, crew neck and quarter zip polo – all sized medium, in a warm charcoal grey of superfine Rambouillet wool.

“Itchy wool?” you ask.

On the Ramblers Way road

On the Ramblers Way road

No, yummy-next-to-the-skin, lightweight, delectable wool. Not your grandfather’s, scratchy beard wool, I reply.

The three items can be worn together or on their own. I mixed and matched. On a balmy Colorado walk and for a sultry college commencement in New York, the Henley tank served marvelously on its own and under a blazer.

The long-sleeved crew has the perfect neckline for showing off a necklace, but isn’t so scooped to make it inappropriate for active use. I wore it hiking and tucked it into my jeans for a slightly neater look and a dinner engagement.

To be honest, I also wore both as pajama tops, that’s how inseparable I was to these separates.

The quarter zip feels a bit like your favorite flannel shirt, but it’s warmer, classier and exponentially more versatile.

When I buy fabrics like wool or silk, a red flag immediately goes up: What about the dry cleaning or handwashing?

rwwRamblers Way items can be tossed in the washer and dryer. The care instructions say you can also hand wash and line dry them, but they held up well to my regular, no-fuss wash and dry treatment.

The last requirement for an active traveler, of course, is pack-ability. All of the tops were crammed into my pack (they’re made of fine, four and five ounce knit and compact exceedingly well). I even balled up the crew neck and used it to help with my sciatic pain while driving. They retained their shape perfectly and always looked wrinkle-free.

They might cost a bit more, but there’s something to be said for feel, the literal and more thoughtful varieties.

It’s nice on the skin. And, with Ramblers Way’s mission of sustainability and Made in America values, it’s nice on the brain, too.

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Klymit is now warm

My backpacking friends reacted with surprise and delight, like they’d just been served lobster and champagne on a camping trip.

KlymitLogoFinal-large-copy1When you’re used to mac ‘n’ cheese and tuna surprise, how else would you react to the comfort of the Klymit’s new insulated Static V Luxe sleeping pad?

We’d all slept plenty of nights on those crappy, standard-issue sleeping pads. Inflatable or not, they seldom offer a decent night’s sleep. They might pack light, but they’re slim on comfort, too, especially for those of us with back issues.

The Klymit pad, new this year, added a big dollop of luxury to our outing with only a few extra ounces to carry.

Klymit, Inc. caught my eye last year at the Outdoor Retailer. It’s a Utah company dedicated to the idea that “the experience of outdoor enthusiasts can be enhanced with new technologies and a different approach that yield quantifiably superior products.”

I reviewed the Static V Luxe (uninsulated) last year with skepticism and the firm belief that no pad would work for my problematic back. I was wrong. It was great. Read review.

klymit 1The insulated version adds a skosh more weight and bulk (35 ounces packs to about 5x4x8 inches, or the size of a large pineapple) in exchange for the added comfort that comes from not being cold. That’s substantial for a cold-weather weenie like me. Being cold means waking up more often and sleeping in multiple layers. No, thank you.

The pad expands to the same luxurious size as its Static V sibling: 76x30x3 inches, nearly wide enough for two humans or with plenty of room for your canine companions.

I toss and turn a lot at night, but I never slipped off this pad. With an R rating of 4.4, it’s the perfect for three-season pad (R is for heat-loss Resistance. Pads generally come with 1-7 R ratings. The higher the R, the better the insulation.)

It took three minutes to blow up and a fraction of that time to deflate. I doubt my dogs would ever pierce the 75-denier polyester, but if it ever happens, there’s a nifty patch kit sewn right into the stuff sack.

Looks like I’m all set for another great season of camping.

klymit 2


Am I in Utah or Maine?

Fire danger in Maine, not Utah

Fire danger in Maine, not Utah

Scientists say weather patterns will be more stormy and unpredictable with climate change. But a switcheroo of states?

That’s what’s happened to Maine and Utah this May.

Most of Utah has received at least twice its usual May precipitation of two inches. Some towns are going on four times their monthly average, coming close to half the state’s annual average of 18 inches in just one month.

Sunny evening in Harpswell, Maine

Sunny evening in Harpswell, Maine

Today will likely set a record for most consecutive days with rain, according to the National Weather Service. 18 dreary ones, often punctuated by hail.

Meanwhile, Maine’s usually rainy May (four inch average) is nowhere to be found.

The state has had high fire danger, sunny warmth, and less than an inch of rain. When I visited earlier this month, I was prepared for the Mud Season I know and do not love. Instead the weather was lovely. The rivers were uncharacteristically low. I didn’t even need bug repellent. It was shocking to see only a few No See Ums and mosquitoes.

I returned to snow and hazardous conditions on the Wyoming stretch of Interstate

Interstate 80, Wyoming in May

Interstate 80, Wyoming in May

80 and seemingly a never-ending cycle of rain storms at home in northern Utah. Needless to say, the fire danger here was very low. Hot Shot crews have been relegated to maintenance work.

Mike Mumford, an avid rider and manager at Redmond, Inc, said it’s been too mucky to ride. “It’s the muddiest and wettest I’ve ever known it to be,” said the Salt Lake resident and former Olympian.

Snow in the Oquirrh mountains, as low as 8,000 feet

Snow in the Oquirrh mountains, as low as 8,000 feet

“The muck can be a foot to 16 inches deep in the paddocks,” he said.

At higher elevations, the snow pack is deeper than it was in January and February. Avalanche warnings have been issued.

With the constant specter of drought, no one’s complaining much. Most folks just seem happy they don’t live in Texas.

Still, the funny state weather swap makes one wonder what’s next. Oh, the upcoming local forecast? 90 degrees and sunny. That’s not normal either. Check out the road trip and more images on UtahOutsider’s facebook page.

After yet another thunderstorm, a double rainbow in Salt Lake valley

After yet another thunderstorm, a double rainbow in Salt Lake valley


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