Author: Bella Santos

Bella was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and loves exploring it through backpacking, climbing, and camping. Although she adores the Cascades, she dreams of one day living in the desert. She works and guides for Peak 7 Adventures.

With great anticipation, I was itching to give the Ortlieb Atrack ST 34L Backpack a thorough testing. I often find myself with a different bag for different purposes: one for climbing, one for air travel, one for road trips, etc. Taking cues from travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, the Atrack ST is a phenomenal piece of versatile gear. Burly material combined with adjustability and easy-access made taking this bag on a big international trip an absolute breeze. Ortlieb Atrack ST 34L Backpack Features: Durable nylon fabric, waterproof Large single zipper opens the pack like a duffel bag 4 inside zipper…

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Snow has finally begun falling here in the Inland Northwest, and the flakes are a welcome reprieve to a warm, dry winter. While my favorite conditions to run in are generally cool, overcast, with a pleasant gentle breeze (is it really too much to ask?), most days those aren’t the conditions I get. But the big, wet flakes of the PNW don’t put a cramp in my running regimen thanks to the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody. This technical piece is tailored toward pursuing those high-output adventures in the most inclement of weather. Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody Features: Waterproof and breathable,…

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MSR is no stranger to snowshoes. Their shoe designs and bindings have been tops in the market for quite some time, but for winter 2019-2020, the MSR binding game just stepped up a notch. A big notch. I tested the new Paragon Binding in the spring in anticipation of a fall 2019 release and came away thoroughly-impressed by their performance. MSR Revo Ascent Snowshoe & Paragon Bindings Features: Aggressive perimeter teeth with steel DTX crampons Injection-mold plastic deck for floatation and durability Innovative Paragon Binding fits women’s 5 to Men’s 13 shoe Ergo Televators reduce fatigue on ascents Available in…

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Approach shoes inhabit a unique space in the outdoorists gear wardrobe. An approach shoe isn’t a hiking boot, nor is it a climbing shoe or a trail runner. But it must excel at hiking, climbing through steep terrain, be comfortable for all day wear, and offer durability for long days in the mountain. It’s a tall order for a single shoe: be good at everything. After testing the Arc’teryx Konseal FL, I am convinced that this is indeed a shoe that is good at everything. Arc’teryx Konseal FL GTX Shoe Features: Lightweight and highly supportive approach shoe Vibram® Megagrip outsole Gore-Tex lining…

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In a shifting consumer climate, companies are often in the process of development, rebranding, and re-inventing to meet the desires of an ever-changing community. The fashion industry particularly is required to adapt to the demands of their demographic, or perish. And with climate change becoming an increasingly discussed topic and reality, it makes sense that outdoor companies would align themselves with sustainability minded initiatives. But with the ongoing trendiness of sustainability and conservation, “greenwashing” has sprung forth as a subversive and destructive undertone. Greenwashing is when a company makes an unsubstantiated or misleading claim regarding their environmental practice in order…

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Pants made to look good, both at the crag and wherever you find yourself afterward. Patagonia’s Escala Pant, designed specifically for rock climbing, is an excellent piece of attire for the right body type. Soft yet durable material, attractive tailoring, and honed-in features culminate in the Escala. I found these pants to be too small and ill-fitting for my athletic stature, but for someone with a long and lean build they could be just perfect. Patagonia Women’s Escala Rock Pants Features: Organic materials that are both soft and durable Low-profile Opposet adjustable waist 2 front pockets and 2 back pockets…

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Few pieces in my kit have been put through such varied and rigorous rotation as this one. In the past few months, I have worn it close to every day — whether in town or on an adventure. The warmth amazed me, and the breathability left me breathless (in a really good way). Arc’teryx nailed the active insulation with this alpine focused hoody. Truthfully, the comfort it provided me on my hiking, climbing, and cold-weather running adventures has put it in a class of its own. Women’s Arc’teryx Proton FL Hoody Features: Articulated elbows and gusseted underarms for full mobility…

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I literally gasped when I first put on these pants. They… fit? If you’ve been following my reviews much on this website, you know my enduring struggle to find a decent pair of outdoor pants. They never fit right in both the thighs and the waist. They wear out too quickly. They stretch out after moderate use and become uncomfortable. The list goes on, so I constantly end up settling for a pair of leggings. Queue the Arc’teryx Psiphons. These pants are adjustable (yes!), durable (yes!), and fit my athletic physique (YES!). Women’s Arc’teryx Psiphon FL Pants Features: Weather-resistant fabrics Articulated, slim…

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Sometimes you find a piece of gear that just works. The comfort, function, style, fit… all the important elements blend together so well that you aren’t entirely sure how you managed to get along before it entered your life. These items must be categorized as great gear, not just good gear. I’ve worked with plenty of good gear in my life, but the Capilene Air Hoody by Patagonia is in a class of its own. It keeps me warm, it breathes effortlessly, it is stylish and comfortable and beautifully thought-out in every detail. Patagonia Women’s Capilene Air Hoody Features: Lofted wool and polyester yarn…

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This is a jacket built for belays, frigid camps, and the moments when the weather just doesn’t want to cooperate. Patagonia paid close attention to the details when making a cold weather hoody that will offer protection from a myriad of undesirable weather conditions. Their new HyperDAS insulation utilizes a vertical orientation for the synthetic insulating fibers, instead of horizontal. The result? A highly durable synthetic puffy that retains its loft after rigorous use. Women’s Patagonia Hyper Puff Hoody Features: 2-way stretch nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum® shell with DWR treatment Synthetic 100-g HyperDAS insulation Helmet-compatible hood with adjustable drawcord and…

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This new knee-length parka from Patagonia is designed for the city, both in form and in function. Fantastically warm and very flattering, this jacket combines technical elements with an attractive silhouette. The City Storm Parka will keep you warm on the frigid city mornings, without compromising style. Patagonia City Storm Parka Features: Patagonia’s H2No Performance Standard shell exterior, treated with DWR 700-fill insulation from recycled down Detachable insulated hood with two-way drawcord adjustment Two-way zipper with wind flap 4 exterior pockets, 2 interior pockets Adjustable waist cinch Snug fitting cuffs seal out drafts and cold Average weight: 1069 g (37.7…

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For the past few months, this backpack has been my bag for everything. It’s been my laptop lugger, my climbing pack, my snack reservoir, my airplane carry-on bag; you name it. I’ve put it through the wringer, and I can say with full confidence that I love this pack. The ample storage and comfortable design make it a great option for front-country cragging, long day-hikes, or quick backcountry excursions. Patagonia Women’s Nine Trails Backpack 26L Features: Durable CODURA nylon ripstop Top loading design with extended U-shaped zipper Large exterior stretch pocket and 2 side pockets Zippered hip belt pockets Women’s…

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This season, I spent my time testing two different leggings from the North Face. In some ways, these tights had a lot of similarities: they stretch, they’re shades of purple, they are both comfortable and functional. These initial similarities aside, I often found myself reaching for one tight instead of the other, depending on the activity I was preparing to do. So I decided to compile a uniquely structured review, comparing the different merits of these leggings and the application in which I most often utilized each pant. Women’s Flight Zero Mid-Rise Capris Features: Lightweight, capri-length legging Internal drawcord adjustment…

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My full-time job is all about getting kids—particularly those from underserved demographics—into beautiful outdoor spaces. Our goal is to show them the meaning of true adventure and expose them to the diversity of places that are less than a day’s drive away. Each year, we bring dozens of participants to the Washington Coast. Many of these kids have never left their urban neighborhood, and certainly have never seen the ocean. We load up our gear and drive to the trailhead, going through a safety talk and discussion about Leave No Trace ethics before setting foot on the trail. A short…

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So maybe you read my review of the Women’s Progressor Pant by the North Face. Perhaps, you too want a pant that fits well but also boasts durability. Perhaps your proportions are not perfectly suited to the shape of the Progressor. And perhaps you’ve worn your favorite leggings down to a thin, see-through pair of nothingness. If you nodded “yes” to any of the above, I come bearing good news: the Progressor Hybrid Tight. This tight blends the durability of the Progressor with the comfort and versatility of a tight. The North Face Progressor Hybrid Tight Features Abrasion-resistant panels on…

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Folks often say that good help or a good man is hard to find. I say that a good pant is what’s truly hard to find. Sometimes, it feels downright impossible. And you know, sometimes you just want a solid hiking pant — not a legging — to take with you on those backcountry explorations. The North Face’s Progressor Pant is a technical hiking pant, thoughtfully designed for movement and durability with an attention to style throughout. The North Face Women’s Progressor Pant Features: Durable rip-stop material on the knees and seat Gusseted crotch and articulated knees Straight-leg cut Cinch…

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Allow me to be clear: I am a minimalist-gear doubter. My conscientious tendencies and fear of being unprepared has me often side-eying ultralight gear. It is just too light. How could it possibly work well? These presuppositions I carried with me as I packed my bags for a week in the North Cascades in early June. I reached for the L5 Ultralight Storm shell only after I had already packed my bomber Gore-Tex shell, convinced that if weather rolled in I’d want something more burly than the L5 Ultralight Storm. But when I found myself in snow, rain, fog, and…

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The Ventrix has gained remarkable popularity as a jacket designed to insulate, breathe, and stretch. Active insulation is a hot topic in the world of outdoor gear, and the North Face took the technology a step further with laser cut perforations in high-heat yet low-exposure areas. These holes are intended to help dump heat and vapor by stretching (read: ventilating) as you work, then sealing in warmth by laying flat when you are at rest. Synthetic warmth and intentional design intersect in this jacket making it ideal for cold weather climbing or your favorite wintertime and shoulder season aerobic activities.…

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Whatever activity it is that has you stopping and going, you probably don’t want to be constantly readjusting your layers throughout the day. Enter the TechFace: this fleece offers cozy softness and incredible breathability, but also sheds wind and moisture. The sleek construction slides under additional layers easily. It’s technical, comfortable, and functional. Everything I want in a good jacket. Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody Features: Weather resistant face fabric 2 hand pockets, interior chest pocket Adjustable hem 2-way adjustable hood with laminated visor Internal zippered chest pocket Sleek design Low-profile elastic cuffs 366 g (12.9 oz) MSRP: $169.00 A technical,…

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Touted by Westcomb to provide “encapsulating warmth on a cold winter day,” the Flores Hoody is a no-fuss, high-quality down puffy. The construction is thoughtful and functional, with every feature accomplishing exactly what it should. I tested this jacket in a myriad of climates, elevations, and terrains. I fell in love with the Flores Hoody’s warmth, style, and excellent color. Westcomb Flores Hoody Features: 2-way center zipper and YKK VISLON Zipper Zippered Hand Pockets Water-resistant/DWR Adjustable hem Compressible goose down fill (900-fill power) Insulated draft flap behind main zipper Elastic wrist cuffs Weight: 11oz/318g MSRP: $450 Simple and well executed,…

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