Gear Review: Sly Fox Nutrition Snack Bars

Being allergic to peanuts can make it really tough when it comes to choosing foods. Luckily, my peanut allergy isn’t too bad and I can still eat foods that are manufactured in the same facility and on the same equipment that manufactures food with peanuts, without keeling over or stabbing myself with an EpiPen. However; I try to stay away from those foods as much as I can. I’ve found it helps me reduce my sniffles and the amount of sinus infections I get each year (my record is 5, so far).

When I heard that Sly Fox Nutrition made snack bars for outdoor enthusiasts without peanuts and made their snack bars in a peanut-free environment, I thought it was to good to be true.

Sly Fox Nutrition Cocoa Berry Snack Bar

Vanilla Bean Snack Bar from Sly Fox Nutrition

Sly Fox Nutrition Pumpkin Pecan Snack Bar

Peppermint Chip Snack Bar from Sly Fox Nutrition

I got to try and incorporate four different flavors of their snack bars into my training: Vanilla Bean, Peppermint Chip, Pumpkin Pecan, and Cocoa Berry. The flavors were quite tasty and no sniffles on my end after eating them.  Below is a little more in-depth view of what I thought about these snack bars and when I used them.

Pros:

  • REAL food
  • “Light”
  • Peanut-free
  • Tasty

You’ve probably tasted TONS of snack bars that say they’ll make you “perform better.” I’m not sure about you, but I’ve found that to actually be far from the truth. A lot of these companies will use organic ingredients, but then load them up with sugar and other processed ingredients. To me, this makes them overly sweet, slows me down, and they just “sit” in my stomach after crash landing inside me like a meteorite hitting the earth. The snack bars that I tried from Sly Fox Nutrition were completely opposite of everything I just described to you.

Made with real ingredients, it didn’t feel like a massive rock from outer space was making a crash landing inside the mid-section of my body. It just made my hunger, disappear. They never slowed me down and frankly, gave me that quick push to get me going before my work out (more on that in a minute).

These peanut-free snack bars were quite tasty as well. The first flavor I tried was Cocoa Berry and was expecting to be overwhelmed by the taste. I was completely caught off guard when I took my first bite and it tasted like a fairy lightly dusted the snack bar with Cocoa Berry dust. At first I did taste the Cocoa Berry, but then the taste wore off and I actually tasted all the different ingredients. It took a little getting used to, but once I knew what to expect I actually enjoyed that more than being overwhelmed with artificial flavors.

Con:

  • Lack of distribution

The biggest complaint I have is that I have to order these snack bars online. Having only been in business since December 2012, they’re only sold in the Phoenix, AZ area and online. Personally, I prefer to have the convenience of being able to go to my local grocery store and pick some off the shelf when I get home from work.

Best use:

  • Pre-workout
  • During workout

The snack bars have been a great pre-workout snack. I’ve been training for my Century Ride coming up on November 9th and these have been the perfect snack bar to much on before I go out on my rides. It’s just enough to ease that after-work hunger, without making me feel like I have to give it back 20 miles into my ride. I’ve also been munching on them at the climbing gym when I start hearing that growling noise in the pit of my stomach. It keeps my stomach full without turning my low gravity climbing day into a high gravity day.

Remember that this is a snack bar and that’s what I think it should be used for, to make your hunger subside between meals. I’m no dietitian, but I wouldn’t recommend these snack bars as a meal substitute.

The big question is: would I eat these snack bars again? You betcha I would! Where else can you get real food packed into a snack bar, that’s manufactured in a peanut-free environment? The only company I know about would be Sly Fox Nutrition. These snack bars get 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book!

You can get more information about the company, their story, snack bars, and other products on the Sly Fox Nutrition website: www.slyfoxnutrition.com. Sly Fox Nutrition is also great at keeping in touch on Twitter and Facebook.

I was provided with snack bar samples, but the views expressed are solely mine.

Gear Review: Freewaters GPS Sandal giving you ample arch support without bulk

A pair of sandals can easily be found in most anyone’s shoe collection. They’re comfy, easy to slide on, and are perfect for when it’s hot outside. Something a typical sandal lacks though is the arch support. Over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with my more “rugged” sandals because they’re stylish and comfortable with their added arch support, but they’re just so dang bulky and heavy. I’ve constantly been sacrificing weight or comfort, until I found out about Freewaters at the Surf Expo.

I met up with these guys and got to see their entire line of shoes and sandals that are currently on the market and ones that are coming out in January 2014. The styles and designs looked sweet as can be, something any surfer, hiker, climber…heck, something anyone who loves to spend time outside would want to wear. They even have a cool boot design for the ladies that resembles an Uggs boot, but is more visually appealing. The guys hooked me up with my own pair of Freewaters, the GPS, and I’ve been wearing them around town quite a bit, and this is what I’ve found.Green Freewaters GPS Salndal with a Therm-A-Rest foot-bed

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Arch sport
  • Incorporates Therm-A-Rest
  • Philanthropy
  • Comfortable
  • Stylin’

The GPS is a great all-around sandal. Perfect for wearing to the beach, around town, out to lunch, to the gym, etc. It may feel flimsy, but I can assure you that it’s made with quality material and is going to last for a long time. I love the fact that it’s lightweight and has the arch support. Other sandals I have with arch support feel like they weigh a pound or two, but these babies feel like they weigh a couple ounces! If you’ve ever slept on a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad, you know how comfortable they are, and if you haven’t, all you need to know is that they’re one of the most comfortable and lightest sleeping pads on the market for backpackers and campers. That being said, it makes sense that Freewaters is incorporating the Therm-A-Rest feel into their footwear, including the GPS. When I’m walking around in these sandals with the Therm-A-Rest foot-bed, it practically feels like my feet are getting a free massage just from walking. When you buy a pair of shoes or sandals from Freewaters, you’ll also know you’re giving back to those in need because 1% of all sales goes towards building clean wells in Africa, so folks can have access to clean water.

Cons:

  • Off sizing
  • Squeaking

Luckily I was able to try on a pair of sandals at the Surf Expo and I was able to get the right size that fit my feet. Normally, I’m a size 11.5-12 in shoes and sandals. I ended up needing a size 13 and proper sizing is everything with this kind of footwear. Getting the right size is a necessity since there’s the arch support in these. If you’re off a size, that arch support is going to be pushing up near the ball of your feet or behind your arch, close to your heel. If that happens, you’re going to be in a lot of discomfort when you’re walking. My suggestion, try a pair on at a retailer near you and then order them online if that retailer doesn’t have the size you want. The biggest flaw I’ve found with this sandal in particular is the annoying squeaking sound it makes when I walk. It seems like it only happens when my foot or the foot-bed gets wet. Whatever it is, it’s hard to make it stop once it starts and I’ve found myself altering the way I walk at times to reduce the loudness of the squeaking. I’ve been trying to wear down the foot-bed, thinking that might be the problem, but no cigar so far. Maybe mine are a defective pair?

The sandals are great (aside from the squeaking) and the company has great values that will resonate with most anyone. I wish I could give them a better rating, but a 3.8 out of 5 is the best I can do solely because of the squeaking. If my sandals didn’t squeak, I’d give them a 4.7 hands down because they’re so cool looking and are so comfortable. Looks I’ll be trying a different pair of Freewaters sandals and let you know how those compare.

I was supplied with these sandals from Freewaters, but the views expressed in this review are strictly my own.

Gear Review: Dry Case waterproof backpack keeping everything dry

We were heading through the five foot surf into the Pacific Ocean in a little panga boat and Adam was cringing. He wasn’t afraid of the waves, he was afraid of his super duper nice DSLR Cannon camera getting wet. Our buddy also brought his really nice telephoto lens that has a set 400 zoom so we could get some pictures of each other from the boat surfing at Punta Mango in El Salvador. We had the picture taking rotation down, but keeping the camera dry was proving to be a pain. We ended up wrapping his camera in a towel and putting it in our buddy’s backpack and just hoped it would be A-OK, but it would’ve been so much easier if we had a waterproof backpack from DryCASE.Dry Case Waterproof Backpack

I finally got my hands on one after the Surf Expo in September and you know I’ve been putting it to good use. The best performance I’ve seen from it was onJustin Fricke The Weekend Warrior watching his Dry Case Waterproof Backpack float down the river to Wekva Springs the last day of summer, when Alison and I did some canoeing down the Wekiva River in Central Florida. It was great knowing that I could pack some towels, electronics, snacks, etc. into one bag without them getting wet. Let’s face it, when you’re in almost any boat, you’re bound to get wet. I took the back of the canoe and threw the pack in the middle and even with all the water drippage from my paddle, the water just beaded down the backpack’s marine grade waterproof vinyl.

There’s no way I was going to intentionally flip the canoe to see how the backpack would do in the water, so we beached the canoe and I waded out into some knee deep water for my last bit of testing. I just dropped the backpack in the water and it started to float downstream. After I went an retrieved it, I had to see how waterproof this thing was. I fully submerged the backpack in the brownish/red river water and didn’t see any bubbles come up.

That’s always a good sign!

I did this a couple more times and it was finally time to see how everything panned out. I unrolled the top of the backpack and everything was dry. I did notice that some water was trying to seep in through some spaces in the roll-top, but that’s to be expected.

After all was said in done, here are my thoughts:

Pros

  • Padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Air valve
  • Marine grade waterproof vinyl
  • Huge compartment
  • D-rings

Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior submerging his waterproof backpack from Dry CaseHave you ever noticed that most backpack companies seem to incorporate comfort into their designs? I always hate wearing a backpack with nice shoulder straps, but just a strap for a hip belt. Everything on this backpack is padded, providing you with all the comfort you need for a long day on the trail, at the beach, or on the water. To help push air out of the backpack, the folks at Dry Case use an air valve at the bottom of the backpack. I found it really tough to roll down the top of the backpack when the valve was closed, but when opened, the air easily escaped. Once I secure the top, I even like to squeeze out a little air, so the backpack isn’t so bulky. The main compartment is enormous, I mean I fit two beach towels, water bottles, electronics, and snacks in there with about another 15 litters of space. You can rest assured that you’ll get everything in there that you want. Say you want to go kayaking and need to strap this baby down. You’ll find that it’s easy to secure with the D-rings that are on the hip belt and top handle.

Cons

  • One size fits all
  • Roll top closure

This backpack has so much padding on it, making it very comfy to wear. However, one size doesn’t fit all, in my opinion. For those that have a longer than normal torso, like myself, are going to find that the backpack kind of rides up. When I put it on, the weight pulls it back and makes the bottom of the backpack push into my back because it sat on my back at an angle. When I tightened the strap to get it fitted the right way, the backpack rode up so when I had it in a good place to secure the hip belt, the hip belt was just above my belly button. In addition, the roll top closure could potentially let water in. If the backpack’s completely submerged for a long period of time or if the top isn’t rolled tight, then water could definitely seep through the cracks.

All this being said, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons and would say that this is definitely a solid backpack that any weekend warrior should have. I’d give the backpack a solid 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because of the one size fits all aspect. Aside from that, this backpack does what it’s made to do, keep your tech dry when you get wet.

This wasn’t sent to me as a complimentary product to review. This was bought by me and the reviews expressed are my own…as always.

Hit Mit: My New Favorite Beach Game

“How come all you do is surf?”

That’s a phrase I hear from my mom at least a couple times every summer at the beach. She asks me that because around 11:00 a.m. at the beach, I’m bored and ready to go to the pool or do something else. Usually by 11:00 a.m. the wind’s picked up and has completely blown out the waves, making them not much fun to surf. I feel like I’ve played almost every beach game known to man: boccie ball, Frisbee, paddle games, soccer, football, etc. There’s too many reasons to name why I’m not a fan of any of these beach games and only stick to surfing, but I may have found something solve this dilemma.6_color_Pyramid_1024x1024

I met with the designer of the Hit Mit and a few of the executives while I was at the Surf Expo and got the chance to play a quick game with them. They even hooked me up with a sample to take home and use with my friends and family, it’s been awesome!

Pros:

  • Soft
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Different colors
  • Great for kids

One of the things I always look for in a product is the weight. I always want something to be super lightweight (I guess that’s the backpacker in me). Being that it’s made of a soft foamy material, it easily meets that requirement. Since it’s really soft, when you go for a hard return hit and end up whacking your leg, it won’t hurt or cut you open like other paddle games might. You know, the ones that make you play with a heavy and rigid wooden, plastic, or some form of metal paddle/racquet .

1300_204542a_1212The double-sided paddle fits over your hand like a glove (literally), so it’s just like you’re hitting a ball with your hand. I found it to be a lot easier than trying to return the ball with some sort of paddle. Not having to worry about how you hold it and knowing that your reach extends as far as your hand, gives you a surefire return every time. With 6 colors to choose from, there’s surely a color that you’re going to like and the pastel colors are an eye catcher for kids. Speaking of kids, I entertained my 2 little cousins (ages 3 and 4) for hours a couple weeks ago. When they come over, they love playing with board games, but the games are usually a little too complex for a 3 and 4 year old. They get bored of playing with the pieces after a about 10 minutes, so I grabbed my Hit Mit set and they absolutely loved it.

I gave each of them a paddle and tossed a foam ball over to them and they would hit it right back to me. They were jumping up and down, having a blast and I jumped the ranks and became their favorite cousin all in one evening 🙂 Did I mention we were playing inside? Since the whole set is made of a soft foam material, it was perfectly fine and I didn’t worry about them hitting the ball and breaking something. You can’t play tennis or racquetball inside.

Cons:

  • Bulky
  • One size fits all

Just like my preference for products that are lightweight, I always like them to be packable. That’s unfortunately not the case with the Hit Mit. It’s very durable and wide so most any hand can fit inside it to play, but it doesn’t collapse. My fear with that is it’d be the first thing to get left behind if there wasn’t any room left in the backpack, bag, car, etc. Also, the once size fits all thing is good, but only if you have big hands. I’m able to hold onto the Hit Mit just fine, but my little cousins had a bit of a hard time holding them. Eventually they found a way around it that worked for them by just holding onto the top part of it. It’d be awesome if there was a version small enough to fit a hand in the 3-10 year old age range.

In the end, the Hit Mit gets 4.5 stars out of 5 since it’s so much dang fun. It’s great for parents to give to kids since it works on their hand-eye coordination and they can use it in the house if they’re stuck inside for long periods of time like during a hurricane, snowstorm, etc. It’s also fun for teens and adults alike to play a new game outside at the beach, lake, pool, etc. It’d also be a great thing to have for a BBQ in the backyard.

The possibilities are endless for different people, places, and scenarios, where the Hit Mit can be used. Get a set of your own and see for yourself.

*I was supplied with a complimentary Hit Mit of my own by the inventor, but the views expressed in this review are my own.

Gear Review: Dry Case Phone, Camera, and Music Player Case-Keeping your electronics dry

You’ve probably been in this situation: to bring the phone or not to bring the phone, that is the question. I find myself saying that phrase before heading out almost every weekend, since I don’t want my iPhone to get messed up from water or dirt. For years I’ve been looking for a case or something to protect my beloved iPhone, but have come up short. Almost nothing’s waterproof and when the phone case manufacturer claims it’ll keep the dirt out, they fail to tell you that the dirt will build up around the edges. Once I finally found something that’s waterproof, they manufacturer says in small print that they can’t guarantee the case to be waterproof after I take my phone out of the case 5+ times. So what’s a guy to do when he needs his iPhone to be protected, but doesn’t want a bulky case on it during the week while he’s at work.

My problems were solved when I met the folks from Dry Case at the Surf Expo.Dry Case at the beach

They were kind enough to hook me up with a sample Dry Case to help keep my iPhone dry and I’ve been using it these past couple weeks. The most notable adventure I took it on was this past weekend when Alison and I went canoeing down the Wekiva River, just 30 minutes from my home in Central Florida. I know canoes are very stable, but for a restless guy like me, there’s always the potential for flipping the canoe. Not to mention that it’s nice to have your phone out in the open, ready to get that perfect nature picture with plans of posting it to Instagram later on. It performed as I was hoping and like any product, had some good and bad to go with it.

Dry Case on a kayakThumbs Up

  • It works!
  • Vacuum Sealed
  • Portable
  • Accessories

By the middle of the day, I had managed not to flip the canoe and decided to beach the canoe to test my Dry Case in the river. I had tested it in a sink and pool before where I could control the elements, but now it was time to test it in an uncontrolled environment. I put my iPhone in the case, sealed it up and dunked it in the murky river water. I pulled it out of the water and everything was functioning as it should be.

Now was the moment of truth, I set the case on the sand and just let it sit there for a few minutes. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty funny when you hear Siri talking to you underwater. Hearing Siri griping at me, I knew my Dry Case was working. I looked real close to see if I could spot any traces of water coming in and found my phone to be bone dry inside the Dry Case. What’s nice about this is the vacuum seal, which makes it waterproof and if something malfunctions, it should be easier to spot and rescue your electronic device before it’s destroyed. With a Dry Case the water would start seeping into the case, if something malfunctioned, unlike other products where the water would come gushing into the case to drown your electronic device. It also comes with a buoyant, neoprene armband, to make sure your electronic device doesn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean to never be found again. It’s also great if you’re going out on your SUP, kayak, swimming, etc. for when you want to listen to some tunes or snap a few pictures.

Thumbs Down

  • Lock Top
  • Hand Pump
  • Headphone Jack

Dry Case with the vacuum pumpThe biggest trouble I had was opening and closing this thing. Lining up the lock top isn’t bad, but tightening everything down and opening can be a hassle. In order to waterproof it, everything needs to be tight, but folks with a weak grip or even arthritis would have a tough time opening and closing the locks. The hand pump works great, but it’s just one more thing for me to lose. When I’m not using my Dry Case, I put the hand pump inside the bag. When I am using it, I put it in my backpack where it usually ends up on the bottom. In addition to that, you also have to vacuum out the right amount of air. I apparently vacuumed out too much air a couple times because it formed such a tight seal around my iPhone that it held down the middle button. When it was holding down the middle button, Siri started yelling at me and it prevented me from taking any sweet pictures. The headphone jack is just a tease and gets in the way, in my opinion. Before you start locking everything down, make sure the headphone jack is laying off to the side of your electronic device. This way the Dry Case can form a tight seal and it doesn’t press that headphone jack on top of your electronic device. I say it’s a tease because now I really want a pair of Dry Buds…ha!

The Dry Case was very impressive, in my opinion. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars, hands down. When you’re going to be spending a day out on the water or on the beach, the Dry Case has to be in your bag–your electronics and bank account will thank you later.

*As stated earlier, Dry Case did provide me with a sample product, but the views expressed are my own

Gear Review: Bug Drug by SKINourishment, Inc.

If you’re looking for other reviews of SKINourishment, Inc. products, you can read them here, here, ore here.

Lately, I’ve been using a lot of products that SKINourishment, Inc. has sent me, but the product I’ve been most impressed with is the Bug Drug. In other words, it’s their version of bug spray. Seeing that a few weeks ago, I mentioned in a review that their lotion and sunscreen seemed to attract unwanted fruit flies, I was extremely skeptical and brought my go-to all-natural (synthetic) bug spray…you know, just in case. Lucky enough for me, I never ended up actually needing it.Bug Drug by SKINourishment Inc.

In El Salvador I sprayed myself down with the Bug Drug one night because the wind was calm and the bugs were crazy. They were all over the place and wouldn’t stay out of my face! I spritzed some of the Bug Drug on me and voila, no more bugs in my face. Instead, they started attacking my friends and they started asking me for some bug spray.

Kentucky was the biggest test. You see, Alison is a major bug magnet. When I’m not getting bit, she’s getting annihilated by bugs. The Bug Drug came with me to Kentucky to climb in the bug infested backwoods, also known as The Red River Gorge. It’s a beautiful climbing destination, but like most of the southeast, it’s littered with bugs. Alison used this stuff when we got there Friday morning and didn’t get a bite. Heck, the only bite I got the whole trip was late one night after my shower, since I forgot to reapply. By the end of the weekend, most of my friend were interested in trying this strong smelling product and fell in  love with it as well.

Some of the things I like about it is that it’s synthetic-free, like all of the products SKINourishment, Inc. offers. Being that it’s synthetic-free, it’s good for your skin, doesn’t harm the environment, and I’d even feel comfortable putting some on my dog, knowing that it probably wouldn’t irritate his skin. The bottle it comes in has a really nice spray handle that’s a pump action. No aerosols getting into the air and polluting the environment even more. The sprayer also has a locking mechanism, making it safe to transport and giving me peace of mind knowing that it won’t be getting sprayed all over the place. The biggest plus about this product to me is that I had no clue that I was wearing bug spray. You know what I’m talking about. You spray some bug spray on and it feels like there’s a sticky layer annoyingness on your skin and you just want to scrape it off. When I sprayed the Bug Drug on me, within a few seconds it didn’t feel like anything was on me and that’s a HUGE plus in my book.

Like most great things, there’s a couple of downsides to it. Even though deet is harmful to the environment, it does give off a strong pheromone to repel bugs. In non-nerd terms, that means when you spray on bug spray with deet, bugs will stay away from that area and then some. The Bug Drug doesn’t have deet in it, so you have to make sure to spray it on and then rub it all over yourself before it dries and absorbs into your skin. It also has a very potent smell that some like and others don’t. Personally, I don’t mind it. I’m guessing it’s the essential cat nip oil I’m smelling and the best I can explain the smell is something very acidic. A few other folks in our group didn’t mind it, but a few others were a little skeptical at first because they weren’t too fond of the smell. It’s only strong for a couple minutes and after a bit, the smell deteriorates and you’re back to smelling your “normal” again.

Overall I’d give the Bug Drug two thumbs way up. It’s taken me years to find a bug spray, a hot commodity in Florida, but I’ve finally found my forever go-to bug spray. Not only does this stuff work great, but it’s also great for your skin and it doesn’t do any unnecessary harm to the environment. Before your next outdoor bug infested adventure, make sure you pick yourself up a few bottles of the Bug Drug.

*I was provided with a complimentary product, but the thoughts above expressed are always my own

Gear Review: ClimbOn! Lip Tube, crossFixe HANDS bar, and Muscle Paste

I know what you’re thinking, I’ve been all over the place and have been slacking with my posts. OK, so that might be part of the reason, but I’m also out testing some of these wonderful products I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on. This time I want to go over three products that the folks at SKINourishment, Inc. hooked me up with to test during my surf trip to El Salvador and climbing trip to the Red River Gorge.

ClimbOn! Lip Tube

I wouldn’t quite say that this is your ordinary tube of lip balm. This stuff is actually fast acting. In El Salvador I got a nice lip burn early in my trip, luckily I had this Lip Tube with me. I rubbed some on my burnt, chapped lips and instantly the burning seemed to subside. The essential peppermint oil, used in this recipe, was able to cool off my lips while the rest of the ingredients went to work in re-hydrating my dried out lips. It seemed like my results were practically overnight because the next morning my lips seemed to be back to normal and I was able to eat the spicy local delicacies with out cursing my lips.

I was also able to use it on some of my pesky bug bites that I got in Kentucky. Instead of rubbing it directly onto my bites, I rubbed a bunch on my index finger and applied it from there. I don’t know, just something about rubbing something on my lips after it’s touched where a bug bit me just doesn’t seem “right” to me. Yes, I washed my hands before doing that or else it would’ve been a serious oxymoron.

I think the only downfall is if someone doesn’t like peppermint. The peppermint is very prominent in this product, so if you don’t like peppermint, find something else.

That being said, I’d definitely recommend this Lip Tube to anyone that was considering buying it.Lip Tube by ClimbOn! and SKINourishment, Inc.

crossFIXE HANDS bar

There really isn’t much to add here since I felt like it was practically the same as the ClimbOn! bar. I won’t take up your time filling you in on what it does since I’ve already posted a crossFIXE Hand bar from SKINourishment Inc.review here. However, there are some notable differences, primarily in the look and smell. If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because of their shape, then you’ll love this. I got so many comments saying that it looked like a Peanut Butter Cup and quite honestly I couldn’t agree more. Just a side note, it doesn’t take like one, I tested tried it and it did taste halfway decent, but not like a Peanut Butter Cup.

Unlike the ClimbOn! bar, this doesn’t have an overwhelming scent of citrus. Instead, it reminds me of breakfast in the morning. I’m guessing that’s the mixture of the coffee extract mixed with beeswax and frankincense that I’m smelling.

When you’re looking for something to moisturize your skin and are looking for a new smell or something that’s not so citrusy, give the crossFIXE HANDS bar a try.

crossFIXE Muscle Paste

Before I got my hands on this stuff, I was expecting it to be one of those cremes that gives you a cooling yet warm feeling on the area where it was applied. That’s really not the case since it pretty much just starts working. The biggest difference between the Muscle Paste and name brand products is rather than masking the soreness, the Muscle Paste actually goes to work. For instance, when we were in El Salvador my dad banged up his knee a bit thanks to the combination of a big wave that took his board and his calf leash pulling at his knee. He rubbed some Muscle Paste on it one night and the next morning he said he didn’t even know his knee was hurting him the day before.

Sitting in an office all day, typing, and making phone calls sounds like a pretty easy job, right? That’s because it is, but I also get those pesky “office pains,” like a lot of people and I can never seem crossFIXE muscle pasteto get this knot out of my left shoulder. I’m not sure if it’s from the way I sit, stand ,etc. but it just doesn’t seem to go away. I decided to take my chances with the Muscle Paste and applied some to my left shoulder one morning before work. To my surprise, it helped relieve the tension all day and kept working for a few days after that. Now, a couple mornings a week I just put some Muscle Paste on my tight shoulder and I’m generally pain free. Heck I even felt the knot subside after a few hours, so that’s gotta say something.

It even works on joints too! Earlier in the summer I jacked up one of my toes and it’s been sore for a while. The loose sand and rock hopping we did in El Salvador didn’t help it and one night there was a sharp shooting pain in my poor toe. I rubbed some Mucle Paste on it and by the end of the day it was feeling a lot better. I kept it up for a few days and by the time I got back home from my trip, my toe felt as good as new.

The size of the canister might look small, but the paste is packed in there all the way to the top! Not to mention that the saying “a little goes a long way” definitely applies to this situation. I’ve found that for my aches and pains, just a dab on the tip of one of my fingers gets the job done. It even helps to massage it in a little, I like to think it helps my skin absorb it faster, but either way it feels great so it’s a win-win situation.

Another great synthetic free product from SKINourishment, Inc. that I think any outdoors-man/outdoors-woman and every weekend warrior should have.

 

 

*I was given these products complimentary, but the views expressed are my own, as always

Gear Review: ClimbOn! Mineral Sunscreen and Creme from SKINourishment, Inc.

When it comes to sunscreen, I’m pretty picky. I always want to have the best on me so there’s a lesser chance of me getting some sort of skin disease down the road and I want to keep all my tattoos looking new and fresh for as long as I can. I know I can get them touched up and all, but that takes time and healing which means a minimum of two weeks of no surfing for this guy. That being said, I’d much rather invest in a quality sunscreen.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was still a surf instructor at a surf camp in New Smryna Beach, FL that another instructor pointed out to me that there’s alcohol in most sunscreens. That makes no sense to me because sunscreen is supposed to protect your skin, not dry it out, and what baffles me is that most sunscreens claim to “moisten” and “revitalize” your skin. Since then, I’ve started looking at labels more closely to see what’s in my sunscreen and started doing the same with my after-sun lotion. I found out that’s it’s really hard to find sunscreens and lotions without alcohol in them…crazy.

Needless to say that I was elated when SKINourishment, Inc. agreed to partner with me on my surf trip to El Salvador. They hooked me up with their ClimbOn! SunscreenClimbOn! Mineral Sunscreen and the ClimbOn! Creme to help combat the suns ultraviolet rays and as I was with their ClimbOn! Bar, I was a bit skeptical on how both products would perform.

Let’s talk about the ClimbOn! Mineral Sunscreen first. At first glance it looks like ordinary sunscreen; however, it’s not an extreme shade of white like most sunscreens are. It has some sort of yellowish, gold tint to it. That’s solely because it’s synthetic free with real food grade ingredients in it. The strong smell of sunscreen wasn’t there either, this time it was a smell of wheat. Honestly I had a hard time relating the smell to anything and I thought of a loaf of wheat bread, but to each his/her own I guess.

Application is the same, squirt some lotion on your finger and started massaging it into your skin. There are two notable differences though: 1.) apply sparingly because a lot goes a long way and 2.) it’s a lot thicker than ordinary sunscreen, again thanks to it being synthetic free. It’s super easy to know where you’ve put sunscreen on and the spots you’ve missed because even though it’s a little yellowish and golden in color, you end up looking like Casper The Friendly Ghost. No joke, you turn ghostly white when you put this stuff on and can be quite comical at times. Don’t worry, as it absorbs you’ll go back to looking like your normal self.

It also sticks to everything, so be sure to be careful what you touch when it’s absorbing. Since it sticks to anything and everything, be careful when you touch your board so you don’t get any of this stuff on your wax and make sure you’re not itching your face. I noticed that I’d rub my face randomly and I’d look at my hands and they were white as can be from the sunscreen. Even though it stuck to everything, it was extremely waterproof and wouldn’t run in my eyes when I was in the water. In fact, my buddy made it a point to tell me that most sunscreens end up getting in his eyes and making them feel like they caught on fire; however, that wasn’t the case at all with ClimbOn! Mineral Sunscreen. Being that this is a food grade product, it seemed like it attracted flies. More specifically it felt like fruit flies were hanging around me and anyone else that was wearing this sunscreen rather than someone else who was wearing a synthetically made sunscreen.

Overall it performed very well since I didn’t get a sun burn at all and only came back with a nice tan. I think it might also be worth noting that every surf trip I’ve been on (I’ve been on 7 surf trips altogether) I’ve gotten burned, except for this surf trip. Would I keep using this sunscreen? You betcha! Sure it’s different than the synthetic stuff most folks are accustomed to, but I found that it felt, smelled, and did its job better than any other sunscreen I’ve tried.

Like the sunscreen, the ClimbOn! Creme smelled very different from other lotions. To me, it smells citrusy rather than well, fake. Again, apply sparingly and don’t freak out when the creme comes out a yellowish golden color. That’s from the beeswax that’s actually beeswax and not synthetically made beeswax. Apply sparingly and unlike most cremes, it absorbed into my skin very quickly. I felt it on my skin, but I didn’t see it on my skin which was a HUGE plus.ClimbOn! Creme

Again,, I noticed that it seemed to attract unwanted bugs like the sunscreen did. Specifically it seemed to attract fruit flies which don’t bite, but are annoying as all get up as they’re buzzing by your face.

Being that my skin absorbed it really fast, I didn’t think it was very greasy like a lot of synthetically made lotions that you’re probably used to. Since it absorbs into my skin so fast I even put it to the test on my feet which got messed up by the hot sand and jagged rocks found hiding underneath the murky water. I get some cuts on my feet one day while I was surfing and rubbed some of this stuff on at night and by the morning they looked completely different. It looked like my skin was regenerating and healing faster than what I’m used to seeing and is really helpful in preventing infections.

I was really impressed by the ClimbOn! Creme and Mineral Sunscreen in El Salvador. The biggest cons that I found with these two products was that fruit flies were attracted to this stuff. Unfortunately it seems like that’s what you get when you use food grade products, but I think the effect on my skin trumps the cons I found. If given the choice between and synthetic sunscreen and lotion or the ClimbOn! Mineral Sunscreen and Creme, I’d pick the ClimbOn! products every time.

 

 

*I was given these products complimentary, but the views expressed are my own, as always

Gear Review: SKINourishment’s Climb On! Bar

Lately my hands have been taking a real beating from rock climbing and surfing. They’ve just been getting super dry and peeling, almost feeling like my skin’s stretching and you probably know the feeling. I’d typically pump some natural lotion in my hand, but it feels like that stuff just rubs off really fast and never really allows my skin to absorb the ingredients to moisturize it. Luckily I found this nifty little skin salve by SKINourishment, Inc. called the Climb On! Bar.Climb On! Bar by SKINourishment

It’s packaged in a nice little metal canister which makes it easy to keep in your pocket which make it easy to take with you to work, rock climbing, hiking, or even to the beach. Anytime you feel your skin starting to get to dry, pull this little bar out of the canister and apply sparingly (seriously, a little goes a long way). Once I apply the salve, it feels like my skin starts absorbing the synthetic free (more on this in a minute) ingredients on the spot.

The simple bar shape makes it easy to apply and it even looks cool. There’s a little indention at the top which makes it easy to moisturize your fingertips. The other side is flat, which makes it easy to apply on burns, scrapes, poison ivy, etc. Have I mentioned that it works on bug bites to? I’ve been getting lit up lately by all these bugs we have in Florida and this stuff makes those pesky bug bites stop itching in seconds.Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior with dried skin on his fingertips

I take it with me to work almost every day because after I get done washing my hands, I feel them starting to get dry again. It’s weird because the soap we have at work claims to have natural moisturizing ingredients in it. So how come my skin keeps getting dried out when this soap claims to have natural moisturizing ingredients in it?

The folks over at SKINourishment enlightened me that what sets them apart from most brands is that their products are synthetic free. If you read the label on most other skin care products, they claim to use natural ingredients (like the soap at my work). The reason they can make that claim is because they use synthetics to reproduce the natural oils used in their products. For instance, when you see “Cetyl Alcohol” listed as an ingredient on a bottle of lotion, the manufacturer essentially recreated the chemical makeup of coconut oil in a lab and used it in their lotion. Instead of recreating the chemical make up of coconut oil, SKINourishment will use the actual coconut oil in their product (if the recipe calls for it).

Using synthetic free natural products is better for your skin because it’s actually from that ingredient, but it comes with a cost. I’ve seen natural skin salves cost about half the price of synthetic free skin salves because it’s cheaper to make the ingredients compared to using the synthetic free ones. When SKINourishment makes their product, their recipe changes every time depending on the season. For example, a blueberry delivered in the spring is going to have a different chemical make up than a blueberry delivered in the winter. That means every time they get a new batch of ingredients, they have to slightly alter their recipe to get a product that’s presentable to their customer. That takes time and money, resulting in a higher price point.

Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior holing the Climb On! Bar at New Smyrna Beach, FLWhy should you pay a couple extra bucks for the Climb On! Bar rather than saving some money and getting some natural skin salve at the grocery store? Like I already said, the natural stuff just doesn’t work for me and the Lotion Bar does and I’d rather pay a couple extra bucks for a product that will actually give me some results. There are other synthetic free skin care companies out there that’d be willing to sell you their skin salve, but I doubt they have as good of customer service as SKINourishment. I’m a huge fan of good customer service and these folks have exceeded my expectations. It’s so easy to get in touch with them on Twitter, but if email’s your thing, they get back to you in less than a few hours (during business hours, of course) to answer all your questions and then with some answers to questions you didn’t even think about. Heck, if you don’t love what you get, you can return it and they’ll give you a full refund. To top it all off, they’re a very respectable company. Even though they make a better product (in my opinion) than their competitors, they only give the facts and never bash their competition.

The next time you’re looking for a skin salve or if you’re starting to stock up for that dry winter air that’s just around the corner, give the Climb On! Bar a try. And if you want to familiarize yourself more with the difference between natural and synthetic free products, go read their blog where they answer a lot of questions and dish out all the facts.

Addition from September 5, 2013

I typically don’t add additions to my reviews, but there was a situation this past weekend on my climbing trip to The Red River Gorge that warranted an update.

Long story short, I got a massive rope burn on my left hand. I mean within seconds I had blisters forming across the pads of my four fingers and on the upper palm of my hand. This happened on Saturday afternoon and we still had all Sunday left to climb. Luckily it was raining so I was able to cool my hand down a bit with some fresh rain drops. Once my hand cooled down a bit, I smeared some of the ClimbOn! Bar on my hand. The burning sensation did come back, but within an hour or so, the pain started to subside. Later that day I was even able to belay again and was feeling like I could possibly climb, but I didn’t, just to be safe. I kept reapplying the ClimbOn! Bar to my burns for the rest of the day and night and it felt like it was helping.

Sunday morning rolled around and my hand felt great. I could still tell I had a rope burn, but didn’t really have any pain, only a tiny bit of sensitivity. My friends were surprised to see how my hand looked and even more surprised to hear that I felt good enough to climb again.

I had planned on taping my fingers to prevent the rock from scraping my burns, but once I got to the wall, I was feeling pretty good. I got on the first climb of the day, didn’t tape up my fingers, and did just fine. Granted I chickened out about 20 feet from the anchors, but the biggest win was that my fingers felt fine. I didn’t have to tape up at all that day.

I guess it’s safe to say that the ClimbOn! Bar somewhat saved my climbing trip and because of that, this is always going to be my go-to skin salve.

ENO’s ProFly Rain Tarp: The Best Way To Stay Dry and Cool

When I started blogging for ENO, I was elated that I could get the opportunity to write to their customers. As a token of their appreciation, they sent me an awesome lime green ProFly Rain Tarp and stakes to go with it.The ProFly is an essential piece of equipment to any ultra-light hiker that’s looking to shed some pack weight by hammock camping instead of tent camping. It’s very compressible and weighs in at a mere 22 oz. making it a light, added luxury if you want to make sure you don’t get wet.

Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior relaxing under his Pro Fly rain tarp by ENO
Set up is real simple, just unpack your ProFly and spread it out to get an idea of where all the guylines are. I find it easiest to find the fully taped seam to help me find the two guylines that tie to the tree. Make sure you tie it low to your hammock to make sure you don’t hang below the edges.

This thing provides a ton of coverage, so when you come across that huge rain storm on the trail, you’ll be sure to stay dry. It also makes for a great way to hang in your hammock and stay out of the sun during the day. Summer can be hot and brutal, but the ProFly makes it a little more cool and bearable.

Next, start tying the stakes to the remaining four guylines and start staking them into the ground. I usually stake one end, then go to the end that’s diagonal from me, to make sure everything is even. If you find that things are a little uneven, find the end of the ProFly that’s uneven and pull it tight. Don’t worry about potentially ripping this thing because it’s thick and is made with rip-stop nylon.

Once you wake up from your sleep, pull up the stakes, untie everything and roll it up into its stuff sack. I thought getting this thing into its stuff sack was going to give me the biggest headaches, but it’s actually pretty easy.Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior hanging under his Pro Fly rain tarp by ENO

I think the only thing I’d change would be the stuff sack. Unlike my hammock and bug net, the stuff sack isn’t attached to the ProFly. It’d be easier for me to know that it’s attached rather than having to remember where in the world I put it.

Something to note is that it doesn’t come with stakes, unless you buy a OneLink Sleep System. Most stakes will work, but the stakes that ENO sent me are super light (lighter, but just as durable as my tent stakes) and hold the ground really well.

Overall I give the ProFly two thumbs way up and five stars. Retailing at $79.95 makes this an affordable luxury for anyone looking to improve their hammock experience. I’d recommend the ProFly to anyone who already has a hammock and is looking for a way to stay out of the sun during the heat of the day or looking to stay in their hammock when the rain comes.