A Few of My Hiking Must-Haves

A Few of My Hiking Must-Haves


hikers smiling in the mountains

There’s not much I love as much as getting out in nature and being active, and, although the last (*counts on fingers*) 20 months or so have been incredibly difficult, one silver lining is the fact that the pandemic did lead to many of us spending more time outdoors than ever before.

From weekend kayaking trips to epic mountain treks, I’ve been taking full advantage of all the fresh air Ma Nature has to offer — and with an Arizona camper van adventure planned for December, I have no intent of stopping. But, as I talk to friends about these exciting outings, I’ve realized that we don’t only trade tips and tricks for where to go and what to do — we also talk a lot out all of our gear. What did we wear? What did we use? What would we buy again and again?

hiker crossing a stream

And so, I figured that it’s time for a little product round-up full of my favorite active, outdoorsy gear and goodies. Keep in mind, this is not an all-encompassing packing list (although, if you’re planning to go backpacking and are looking for a list, I find She Dreams of Alpine to be an amazing resource). These are things I’ve used and loved for different types of adventures (both day and overnight, kayaking and hiking) that could help round out your supply.

IBEX Women’s Merino Tencel Pocket Short Sleeve Tee ($85)

Fun fact, in case you didn’t know: Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial (making it naturally odor resistant), which is part why you’ll see it used so often in hiking clothes that may be worn for several days on end. I put this silky soft shirt to the test over a few surprisingly steamy days in Colorado last summer, and I can attest that it works. Y’all might remember that I sweat a lot, but every time this shirt dried out, it looked (and smelled) like I hadn’t even worn it.

Salt Life Long Sleeve Performance Fishing Shirt ($64)

Okay, full disclosure — I have not worn this shirt fishing. Mostly, because I don’t really fish. Instead, I layered it over the aforementioned Ibex tee for a little extra sun protection for an epic hike from Crested Butte to Aspen via Maroon Bells, and, since the trail offered little protection from the elements, I was really glad to be able to roll the long sleeves down and cover up my arms when the sun came out. Plus, let’s be real — the color is gorgeous and it looks cute! I also appreciate the fact that it takes up very little room when packed, so it’s an easy option to have on hand, even if you don’t want to put it on right away.

Title Nine Clamberista Pants and Shorts ($89)

hiking pants

Granted, I was already a Title Nine fan based on some of their other clothes, not to mention the fact that it’s a women-owned company that goes out of its way to support other women. But even if I hadn’t been, these pants would’ve turned me into one. They’re abrasion-resistant with just enough stretch, easy to cinch at the ankle when you want to shorten them or wear them like a jogger, and, best of all, there are so many well-placed pockets! They come as shorts, too, which are perfect for a mid-summer kayak or SUP outing.

Branwyn Essential Bikini ($34)

underwear

Remember what I said about Merino wool? Branwyn uses it to make performance innerwear that, in their words, will keep you “swamp-ass free and funk-free throughout your entire day no matter your adventure.” Add to that the fact that this bikini-style undie is quick drying, has a non-digging waistband, and offers the perfect amount of stretch, and you can trust me when I say you won’t only want to wear these on big adventures!

injinji Women’s Liner + Crew ($29)

hiking socks

And, whaddaya know, it’s more Merino! And before you ask why I think a pair of socks is worth $29, hear me out. I wore this two-piece liner and sock system for the Aspen hike I mentioned above, paired with newer-than-advisable hiking boots, and ended the very long, very full day with zero blisters. A couple of days later, I wore the same boots on a shorter, far less intense hike with other nice wool socks and ended up with blisters the size of a half dollar on both feet. It was awful. If you’ve hiked ever, like, at all, you know your feet are the most important thing to keep comfy. Considering you can wear these a few days if needed before washing, well, suddenly getting a pair for under $30 seems like a heck of a deal, yeah?

HOKA Women’s Kaha Gore-Tex ($220)

Hiking boots

Looking for a sturdy, supportive hiking boot that’ll keep your feet comfy and dry? Here you go. These offer a lot of cushion without being overly heavy, and the Vibram Megagrip traction is seriously grippy — which is so important for folks like me who aren’t terribly sure-footed on technical terrain. I splashed through a few rivers and never had an issue with my feet getting wet, and the lacing system makes it easy to adjust for comfort. I will say that these are the boots that I ended up blistering in with my lower-quality socks, but I’ll also admit they weren’t anywhere near as broken in as they should’ve been before I took them out, so they’re still 100 percent in my rotation.

Forsake Patch Mid Women’s Waterproof Hiking Boot ($160)

hiking boots

Maybe you’re in the market for a hiker that doesn’t look out of place with your street clothes, and trust me, I get it. Packing too many shoes for a trip is a pain! Forsake was a new brand to me, but I was intrigued by their Peak-to-Pavement philosophy that combines all-weather protection with versatile styling — and the fact that they’re officially climate neutral was just about enough to seal the deal. But really, it was wearing them for a nonstop weekend in New England, exploring trails and small coastal towns, that lit my fire. They were comfortable, had great traction, and looked perfect with leggings, jeans, and hiking pants. (Hey, it matters!)

Mammut Albula HS Hooded Jacket ($119)

I know I said that keeping your feet comfortable is priority numero uno — and that’s true! — but if the rest of your body is wet and cold, you might not care how cozy your tootsies are, which makes having a rain jacket a must. This sustainably-made (100-percent recycled polyester!) hooded jacket is super lightweight, packs up small, and comes in a few fun, bright colors. While it came in handy when Colorado decided to drop a monsoon on us, it was also amazing all summer here in Florida for our daily afternoon thunderstorms.

Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket ($250)

winter coat

Nearly every hiking checklist I’ve found recommends a puffer or hoodie, and I honestly don’t know that you could find a better option than this. Available in a bunch of excellent colors, the Fuego is lightweight, water-resistant (as I learned when I got caught in a nor’easter in southern Maine), made with responsibly sourced down, and packs away into its own pocket. (Bonus: there are LOADS of great pockets for all your stuff!) The streamlined fit is topped off with a scuba hood, elastic binding, an adjustable drawcord at the hem. It’s my new go-to travel jacket, because, look, this Floridian does not care to be cold. Besides, I’m a big fan of Cotopaxi’s Gear for Good mission, so the more of their gear I can incorporate into my life, the better.

sleeping pad

If you think tent camping is uncomfortable, you might just need the right sleeping pad. At least, that was the lesson I learned after using the Quasar 3D Sleeping Pad. I was fine with the regular, non-insulated version, but you can get wider, longer, and insulated versions as well to suit your needs. It comes with its own easy-to-use pump sack for inflation, and while it’s incredibly lightweight and great for backpacking, you could really use it anywhere you need a comfy bed on the go. I’ve slept in actual beds that are less comfy! So, if the cold, hard ground is holding you back from camping, this will be a total gamechanger.

Good To-Go meals ($14.25)

camp meal

Raise your hand if you’ve ever set out on an outdoor adventure with grand plans of making an amazing camp meal, only to wind up tired, cranky, and snacking on yet another bar of some sort because you can’t bring yourself to do all the work needed for a great dinner. Yep, same. So, the fact that Good To-Go has a whole huge variety (risotto, bibimbap, chili, pad Thai, pho, the list goes on and on) of delicious meals that need nothing more than hot water? AWESOME. There are vegan options, gluten-free meals, and more — and they’re all hand-made in Maine.

Forclaz Trek 100 Easyfit 60L Hiking Backpack ($119)

60L backpack

You don’t need to be a backpacking expert to tell when your pack does — or does not — fit, and fortunately, this pack isn’t just specifically designed to fit women’s bodies, but it’s also designed to make adjustments incredibly simple. Seriously — it literally has illustrations to remind you what to adjust, in what order, for the ideal fit. I carried this with around 30 pounds on the Aspen trek, and although, naturally, walking over mountains with an additional 30 pounds wasn’t a piece of cake, the pack itself was never uncomfortable. Plus, the flaps and zippers made my gear easy to access.

Cotopaxi Tarak Del Día ($105)

backpack

A lesson I’ve learned is that, if your pack has the space, you’ll probably use it. And that means you’re far better off sticking to a smaller pack for shorter day hikes; that way, you’ll bring your essentials, but nothing more. This 20L pack has an internal hydration sleeve, configurable compression and lash points, comfortable straps, and a streamlined ice tool carry system, if you’re into that. Personally, I’m more into the fact that each one is made with high-quality fabric left over from other companies’ larger production runs, making each one a colorful, one-of-a-kind offering. (Told you I dug Cotopaxi!)

Parks Project Glow in the Dark Water Bottle ($20)

water bottle

Here in Florida, I’m a big fan of the insulated water bottle — otherwise, your water is likely to get pretty hot, pretty fast. However, I’m learning that, on these longer hikes, every ounce truly does matter, and tepid water is a small price to pay if you can shave off a bit of weight. (Yes, I know most of the world has realized this for ages. I’m just a little slow to come around. I really like cold water, okay?) This nifty Nalgene wide mouth bottle isn’t only lightweight, but it’s also glow-in-the-dark, which comes in awfully handy when you’re sharing a tent, need a drink in the middle of the night, and don’t want to wake anyone up by using a flashlight to find your water. Besides, proceeds benefit the Open for Outdoors Kids Program led by the National Parks Foundation. Who can beat that? (I also have a cool little camp mug from Parks Project, similar to this one, that made my morning coffee just a little more enjoyable.)

 

Next on my outdoor adventure wish list: some trekking poles, a lightweight tripod for taking pictures, and a way to overcome my fear of heights so I can more fully enjoy some of those amazing views. Got tips? I’m here for them! —Kristen





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How to Make Your Own Butterscotch “Beer”

How to Make Your Own Butterscotch “Beer”


Every fall we get the urge to binge watch all of the Harry Potter movies. Anyone else?

There’s just a lot of fall vibes in those movies, and we are here for it! Which, seeing that it’s basically September and all, is exactly why this cookbook caught our attention (HP fans unite!):

Fifty magically simple, spellbinding recipes for young witches and wizards? Yes, please! From breakfasts to desserts to snacks to main dishes, The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids is so, SO fun and educational. You and your kiddos will learn new cooking terms and kitchen skills with recipes that range in complexity so that all kid chefs and their potions masters (AKA parents) can whip up something amazing.

One simple and fun recipe that caught our attention was for Butterscotch “Beer” — which, because this is for kids — isn’t really beer at all. Instead, it’s a mug full of butterscotch-y goodness that you can sip while pretending to be at the Three Broomsticks Inn or any other imaginary wizarding bar you fancy.

butterscotch beer in a mug

Photo courtesy of Ulysses Press

Looks delicious, right?! So frothy and fun. And we want you to try it!

Thankfully, we’ve been given permission from the publisher to share this tasty Butterscotch “Beer” recipe with you. So, grab your best wizard or witch hat, your robes, and your large mugs, and let’s cheers to butterbeer!

Butterscotch “Beer” Recipe

A wizarding world favorite, this “beer” recipe allows you to enjoy a cup full of butterscotch-y goodness whenever you’d like, even if you aren’t at a wizarding bar.

Course: Drinks

Keyword: beer, butterscotch

Servings: 4

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 20 oz lemon lime soda
  • ice
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.

  • When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.

  • Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.

  • Whisk in the heavy whipping cream and continue to cook for 1 minute.

  • Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.

  • When cool, divide between 4 large glasses filled halfway up with ice.

  • Slowly top with soda, but be careful not to overfill, as the mixture will bubble and foam! Stir to blend and enjoy.

 

A huge thanks to Alana Al-Hatlani and Ulysses Press for allowing us to share this Butterscotch “Beer” recipe. What are some of your other family fall favorite recipes? This is definitely gonna be one of our new faves! —Jenn

Excerpted from The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids by Alana Al-Hatlani. Copyright © 2021 Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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4 Ways to Make Your Home a More Positive Space

4 Ways to Make Your Home a More Positive Space


Take a quick look around you home. How relaxed, recharged, and happy does your space make you feel?

Because we’re all still (groan, we know!) spending a lot of time at home these days, we’ve got some great ways to make your home a more positive space from Laura May, digital editor at Just Another Magazine.

woman in home smiling

Your home environment should be a sanctuary where you can relax, recharge, and be most at peace. But this isn’t always the case. Many home environments feel cramped, creating a negative atmosphere that induces symptoms of stress.

Not to worry though! In this article we explore the following four ways you can make your home a more positive place to live:

  1. Clear the clutter
  2. Embrace structured simplicity
  3. Make neutrals pop (and let in the sunshine)
  4. Bring the outdoors inside

Read on as we explore these tips and help you create a more positive home space.

1. Bring the Outdoors Inside

Caring for plants and flowers has lots of relaxing properties — but have you dabbled with the idea of creating your very own indoor garden? Bringing the outdoors inside is a chance to get creative and be at one with nature.

According to an article by Forbes, greenery in your home reduces stress and can make you feel better. This is because indoor plants improve concentration, naturally purify the air around you, as well as improve your overall mood.

Best of all, many plant species require little fuss to look after, meaning you don’t have to be an experienced gardener to experience the benefits. With simplicity firmly in mind, here are some popular and widely recommended house plants:

  • Japanese peace lily
  • Blue star fern
  • Fishbone cactus
  • Spider plant
  • Aloe Vera

While being aesthetically pleasing, these various options are well adapted to home living and are particularly resilient, which means you can create a positive, nature-filled environment without the stress or worry of a more difficult species.

2. Clear the Clutter

Clear space, clear mind — a mantra that pairs a clean home with living a stress-free life.

Sometimes decluttering your home environment is all you need to make a more positive space. After all, trying to do work surrounded by a mess or tucking into a good book amongst yesterday’s laundry is enough to distract anybody.

While organized mess might benefit some personalities, unwieldy clutter is claustrophobic and overwhelming to many others. Spending time clearing the clutter around your home (home office included) makes your space feel calmer and more purposeful.

With this in mind, it pays to be clever with storage, especially if you’re dealing with confined areas like a long narrow living room, given you have less space to hide the mess. Instead of sweeping it all under the carpet, however, you’ll find many interior decorator experts (as in this article from FurnitureBox, for instance) recommend you make use of vertical space — this is because bookcases, shelves, and other cabinets can store and display anything you want without taking up much surface area.

3. Embrace Structured Simplicity

Cleared the clutter and still feel restricted? After months of lockdown living and working from home, you’ve likely grown tired of the same old scenery.

Monotony certainly doesn’t nourish the soul or mind, so now is the time to redecorate while still being mindful of a stripped-back, minimalist style. After all, loud accents and busy furniture aren’t conducive to creating a positive space either. Instead, you should embrace a trendy approach to home-living known as structured simplicity.

Structured simplicity refers to a popular Nordic design that adopts one core principle: create a refreshing, positive space devoid of clutter you can proudly call home.

Hence the name, structured simplicity places composition at the heart of design; your space should not feel crowded or loud, but rather well-planned and heartfelt. You should look to incorporate personal, happy memories like family pictures, cozy sinking sofas, and faded tones to help create a positive, relaxing environment.

4. Make Neutrals Pop (and Let in the Sunshine)

The aforementioned structured simplicity is at the heart of a clutter-free, positive home environment. But that is not to say you shouldn’t look to add a splash of color to brighten your day. After all, experts such as Healthline document that natural color and light increase the release of serotonin in your body, otherwise known as the happy hormone.

Picture nature and what do you see? Crisp blue skies, lush green forests, and white-capped mountain ranges? Neutral and pastel colours are the best way to represent nature in the composition of your home environment — so do your best to make them pop.

You can achieve this by incorporating lots of greens and blues into your layout: paint the walls, embrace accessories like pillows and throws, as well as take inspiration from what you see outside. But don’t overlook neutral tones either. Whites and greys are fantastic neutral colors that open up space for a classic, clean finish — this provides the illusion of a larger canvas in what may otherwise feel like a small, cramped environment.

Moreover, you should also look to let in the sunshine and a little fresh air by drawing curtains and opening a window or two. Ample access to sunlight and fresh air can alleviate depression symptoms, helping you feel brighter and more positive at home.

Making your home a more positive space is a great idea, especially after months of lockdown living. From clearing the clutter and embracing structured simplicity to making neutrals pop and adding some greenery — this is how you reclaim your home and make it a more positive space. —Laura May

Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. At Just Another Magazine they write about beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, trends and anything else that matters to their readers. Name throwing you off? Don’t take it too seriously — they intend to stand out from the crowd whilst creating content in their unique style.

 

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