How to dress when it’s really f@#king cold out.

15350702_10211385700987958_1567693669333532042_nThis is what I woke up to this morning. Yup, you read that correctly -28 degrees celsius, feels like -36 with the wind chill. At that temperature, exposed skin can get frostbite in 5-10 minutes. But just because it gets cold, doesn’t mean that outdoor activities suddenly stop. Unless you can go into hibernation for the winter like a bear* , you are still going to have to venture out in this weather. There are right and wrong ways to dress for this, and it may surprise you that throwing on an arctic rated parka is not always the answer. So let’s take a look at the best way to dress for different activities at this temperature.

When is a good time to wear that parka rated for -50?

If you are going to be active, then the only good time to wear a parka rated for like – 50 is when you are at…- 50. If you are going to be doing a lot of standing around, or not physically exerting yourself, then that arctic rated parka will do just fine. But if you are going to be hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc (i.e. any activity that is going to make you sweat) than wearing a jacket rated for that cold is going to make you sweat, which is the body’s way of cooling down. So what do you think happens when it’s -36 and your body starts trying to cool itself off? It’s not good. There is a reason Les Stroud says ‘you sweat, you die.’

 

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Yeah, listen to this guy.

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<Here I am in a Canada Goose Parka because it was -30 and I was standing around at Lake Louise photographing with the wind blowing off the glaciers at the end of the lake.

Now I’m not saying don’t buy a jacket that is rated for that cold, but know when to wear it.You definitely should not start wearing it at relatively warm temperatures. I have seen people walking around in Canada Goose jackets before the temperature is even below freezing. If you acclimatize your body to that so early on in the season, what are you going to wear when it is actually cold out?

 

From the Feet Up:

When picking out winter boots, do not treat a temperature rating like it is a set in stone fact. Temperature ratings are super subjective, depending a lot on the person and what the gear is paired with. The warmest boots I own are a pair of deer hide mukluks lined with fluffy sheepskin (these were a staple when you live in Northern Ontario). However, it is not always practical to wear them since I can’t put them in snowshoe bindings, ice cleats or damp conditions. So pick a boot that suits your activities. If you are going to be hiking, look for a waterproof boot, preferably with a removable liner (so you can wash it because let’s face it, feet stink.). The liner should be made of a dense, felted material for the best warmth. Soft and fluffy doesn’t always equate to warm, so don’t fall for that.While my Keen Elsa boots don’t have a removable lining, I find them to be incredibly warm and waterproof.

Now that you have a good boot, it’s time to look at a good sock. Wool is king when it comes to staying warm, and merino wool is the best wool on the market. Pick a thick merino wool sock, like these ones from IceBreaker and Darn Tough. I like wearing knee-high ski socks pretty much all winter, but there are shorter hiking options as well. Your winter boots should be big enough that you can wear thick socks in them and still have room to move your toes. If the boots are too tight, there won’t be any air in there and that will actually lead to colder feet.

All About The Base (layers):

If you are going to be outside all day, just throwing on super warm outwear isn’t going to cut it. You need to have good layers next to your skin. I LOVE merino wool baselayers and pretty much live in IceBreaker all winter long. Merino wool comes from special sheep in New Zealand and it is incredibly warm, yet breathable. It is moisture wicking and anti-microbial, so it doesn’t stink when you sweat into it. Try layering merino baselayer pants and a top, or a merino onesie (yup, they exist!) underneath the rest of your layers for an added layer of cozy warmth. There are different weights of wool for base layers; what you need to know is that the higher the number, the warmer they are. 260 weight merino from Icebreaker is the warmest that they make, and what I reserve for the really cold days.

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This is a merino sheep; doesn’t he look warm?

 

Stuck in The Middle With You:

Mid-layers, or insulation layers, are where you get creative based on the temperature. A basic mid layer would be something like a fleece sweater. But on really cold days, jackets like the Patagonia Nano Air, or down sweaters may become your mid layer. On really, really cold days, you may wear fleece under a down sweater/synthetic jacket, along with an insulated shell over top. For fleece, I love my Patagonia Better Sweater and Snap -T pullovers, but I also have some really nice Cloud Layer fleeces from Eddie Bauer. I own a wide variety of fleeces, since it such a versatile layering piece, and key for being warm at these temperatures. The Patagonia Nano Air hoody is one of my favorite pieces of gear: it is perfect as a stand-alone jacket most of the time, but when the temperatures plummet, it makes an incredible mid-layer.

Topping it Off:

Now it doesn’t matter how good your mid and base layers are if the wind is going to cut through you the second you step outside. Wind chill is dangerous because it removes the ‘heat bubble’, or pocket of warm air, that we naturally have around us. A good shell will keep you warm and dry in windy and wet conditions. Materials like Gore-tex (or other proprietary versions of it) are sturdy, waterproof layers that will block the wind but still let your body breathe underneath. Getting a breathable shell is vital to maintaining good body temperature. If the shell isn’t breathable, then we are back to the original Parka problem. One of my favourite insulated shells is an old-y but a good-y. The First Ascent BC Microtherm is waterproof, windproof and insulated with 800 fill down. It has kept me warm through some pretty sketchy winter conditions. See below:

 

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Photographing Ice Volcanoes along the shore of Lake Ontario in -30

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My Wilderness First Aid Course in Canmore 2 years ago. -24

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Avalanche Safety training on Bow Summit at -39

 

The Icing on the Cake:

 

Headwear. It’s so easy to get all dressed up and covered and to forget about your head and face.A good toque that blocks the wind is vital. Rumour has it that pom poms help too 😉 Just kidding, but I do love a good pom-pommed toque. Look for hats that have a good fleece lining. Keep your face covered with a balaclava or, my favorite, a merino wool buff. Buffs are super easy to throw on, put a scarf over and then pull up to cover your face as required. Also keep in mind the area around your eyes: goggles or sunglasses with good coverage are important. Get tinted/polarized ones for days on the snow, snow blindness is a real thing.

Other tips and tricks for surviving the cold:

-Pocket hand and toe warmers: don’t depend on them, but they are a nice added boost of warm

-Don’t drink alcohol to keep warm. It might make you feel warm, but it thins your blood and dehydrates you, making you colder long term.

-If you have to pee, then pee! Do not hold it in. A friend who spends a lot of time in the arctic taught me this. Don’t make your body waste energy heating the extra mass that comes from you holding in pee.

-Carry a spare insulation layer and spare socks/gloves

-Use glove liners and hat liners on the REALLY cold days.

-Carry hot drinks. This helps moral more than anything

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Stay warm out there and adventure on!

 

 

*yeah, yeah, yeah, I know bears aren’t true hibernators but it made a better metaphor than comparing people to rodents.

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My New Favorite Jeans

When it comes to jeans, I am picky. I don’t want teeny-bopper jeans, and I don’t want mom jeans. I want pants that make my butt look good (isn’t that always the goal?), have some stretch to them and feel good on. I am pretty active/busy and I need all my gear, clothing included, to be versatile. I want pants that I can wear to wander downtown Canmore shopping, but I want to be able to stop and hike into somewhere to get the perfect photo. If these pants can also be worn out to a nice dinner or a bar for drinks, then even better! I have hiking pants for hiking, but I still want to not be held back on a spur of the moment decision because of my jeans.

When it comes to wearing jeans in the summer, usually, I would say ‘Gross!’ There is nothing worse then pulling up jeans on sweaty, sticky, humid days. But recently, I found a pair of jeans that have made my life better. That might sound a bit melodramatic, but in all seriousness, they are freaking amazing. These pants are comfy, stretchy, moisture wicking, cooling, and STAY UP.When I wear them, I’m not constantly pulling my pants up on days where I forget a belt.

So these magical pants, where do they come from? Well they can now be found at MEC, but I originally heard about DISH and Duermanufacturer of these amazing jeans, from my boss. He is a pretty fashion forward guy, but also an outdoors professional, so he has a high standard for pants. When I had the chance to try out a pair myself, I jumped at it (and into the pants!).

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I have only worn mine a couple of times, but they feel incredible on and its as comfy as wearing a pair of full stretch hiking pants, but they look a heck of a lot better in the city. I wore mine kicking around Kananaskis, for a quick hike to a nearby waterfall and then out for beer, and they were fantastic. I personally own the ‘Straight and Narrow’ cut and I find them incredibly comfortable. The wash is a great classic indigo colour and the rear pockets are classic and flattering.

I will definitely be doing more adventuring in these pants and will be trying on other styles and washes to get another pair. Or two…

I didn’t snap any pictures of me wearing them; there is just something about trying to photograph your own butt/bottom half that just doesn’t work out well… But check out the companies website to see the different styles they offer! This is a Canadian based company (head office is in Vancouver!) that ethically manufactures their product. That, along with the fact they they are technical jeans, is definitely something I can get behind. Or into. You know, pants and all 😉

Our philosophy is the opposite of fast fashion. We believe that creating long lasting garments promotes sustainability by preventing the amount of waste that enters our landfills. We design and produce our garments with extra attention to quality and longevity, so you can take home better products and buy fewer things.

– Dish and Duer Website

Lets Talk About Hiking

Hiking, especially in the mountains, can be a little intimidating at first. I get asked frequently ‘How do I get into hiking’ or ‘what gear do I need to start hiking’, so I decided to address these questions and more in a blog post.

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As a hiking guide, I get asked all the time ‘How long have you been hiking?’ To me, that is kind of an odd question. Hiking, at its most basic, is really just walking outside. Since I grew up in the country, with lots of trails around my home, my answer is that I have been hiking for as long as I’ve been walking.

Basic hiking (i.e. walking outside) does not require any special gear or experience beyond good footwear and common sense. The more difficult the hike, the more gear or technical advice you will need, but hiking is very much something you can ease into. Any time spent being physically active outside is going to be amazing for both physical and mental health.

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Being a good hiker means being in relatively good shape, but hiking is also a great way to get in shape. If you have never hiked before, then you should start easy. You don’t need to summit a mountain on your first time out. But if you want to improve, then you do need to push yourself a little more every time you go out; try a harder trail, or try for a better time on a trail you have done before. Above all else, enjoy yourself! Hiking is, in my opinion, one of the best things in the world to get out and do. Its an incredible stress reliever, a great group activity and a great way to meet new people.

What is the one piece of advice I would give to a new hiker?

Be stubborn. Who cares how slow you are if you are enjoying yourself; if the hill seems to go on forever, don’t give up. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So what basic gear do you need to get into hiking? Lets start at the bottom.

Good Footwear:

The type of footwear you need varies with the type of hiking you are planning on doing. The basics of good footwear come down to comfort and support; you want a hiking boot or shoe that fits the shape of your foot well and gives your toes lots of room. Buying shoes too small is a pretty common mistake that leads to serious discomfort, blisters and possibly lost toenails. When trying on hikers, don’t try them on first thing in the morning, try them on at the end of the day. Your feet swell a bit throughout the day, especially if you are being active, so trying them on at the end of the day will give you a more accurate idea of how the shoes will fit while hiking.

I personally prefer hiking boots over hiking shoes because I like the added ankle support and coverage. If you are going to be carrying a pack, then ankle support is definitely recommended.

Only buy as much boot as you need. If you are planning on doing only day hikes, then don’t buy a pair of super stiff, super expensive, multi-day backpacking boots.

Some good brands to check out are Keen and Salomon. Keens have always been my personal preference; they fit my foot perfectly and have no break-in period. They are good to go, right out of the box.

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So now that you have a good pair of hikers, don’t go and undo the work of picking a good pair of shoes by wearing bad socks. High quality socks will change your life. If you are only going to buy one good pair of socks in your life, let them be for hiking. I suggest buying merino wool socks, from either Darn Tough or Icebreaker. Both companies guarantee their socks for life and will replace them if they wear out. Why merino?  Merino wool is a natural fibre from sheep that live in the mountains of New Zealand. It breathes and insulates, keeping your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is not itchy and it is naturally anti-microbial which makes it anti-stink. The wool fibre and construction of the socks also helps stop blisters from forming.

Hiking Clothing:

Now that we have covered footwear, lets talk about the rest.

So. Pants. While yes, you can technically hike in anything that covers your butt (or not, your preference ;), some pant choices are better than others.I typically hike in pants year round (as opposed to shorts) because  I like to avoid roughing up my legs any more than I have to (the whole firefighter/guide combo leads to a lot of unavoidable bruises and scrapes). Also, ticks. Enough said.

I can pretty much guarantee that you have a pair of pants in your wardrobe that will work well for hiking. Unless you only own Armani suits. Any sort of athletic pant will do, pants with stretch are great. Leggings? perfect! You know what’s not cool for hiking? Jeans. Or jeggings. Denim is just a terrible fabric to hike in. It doesn’t breathe well, it doesn’t insulate well, its gross when it gets wet and I’m not even going to go into chafing… In general, jeans just aren’t designed for athletic motion and wearing them hiking won’t make your hike enjoyable.

Now onto the top half. Gentlemen, look away for the next paragraph.

A lot of women like to hike in a sports bra. Hiking can be vigorous exercise and a little extra support goes a long way. Icebreaker makes a great Merino wool sports bra that will help eliminate boob sweat and will keep the girls feeling light, breezy and well supported through a long hike.

Okay guys, come on back. When it comes to tops, just be comfortable. Athletic and technical fabrics and styles will definitely be the most comfortable, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiking in your favorite old tshirt. Keep in mind that getting a little grungy on hikes is inevitable, so don’t wear your brand new white top out.

For the purpose of this post, I am not going to get into seasonal layering, I am just sticking to the basics. I will be working on a winter layering guide in the fall. However, there is one piece of outerwear that everyone should carry year round: a good waterproof shell.You can spend as much as your bank account will let you on a 12144692_10208804212612362_1078223986272357188_nshell, but you honestly do not need to spend a fortune. A good hardshell jacket will protect you from winds at high altitudes as well as surprise rain storms.If something goes wrong, and you end up in
a situation where you are stuck outside over night or through bad weather, a good shell can save your life.I am in love with my Patagona Torrentshell (yup, thats a pun). Its a great jacket for under $200 and packs up small in my backpack. Plus mine is lime green. Brighter colours are ideal for outdoors gear to make sure you are always visible.

 

And that brings me to my next point; every hiker should carry a daypack with some essential safety items in it.

Backpacks and Supplies: 

A good pack will fit comfortably on your back and have a waist strap to help support the weight. Some packs come with hydration packs built in, or rain covers and once again, you can spend as much as you like on your pack, the options are endless. You can also pick up a basic hiking pack for around $70 (check out the Osprey Daylite).

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In your day pack, you should carry some items for just-in-case scenarios. You should always have water, whether it is in a hydration pack or a water bottle is up to you. You should also have enough snacks to get you through a 24 hour period, a small first aid kit, an emergency blanket and a map of the area in which you will be hiking. If you are hiking in bear country, then you should also always carry bear spray. Always, no exceptions.

As you can see, you probably have most, if not all, of what you need to start hiking. All the rest can be purchased at your local outdoors store. Is there more gear you can buy? Definitely! There is always more gear to buy. But you do not need to buy it all at once. A good collection of gear is built over time.

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<The safety essentials.

One other vital component of hiking? Friends, or people to hike with. Hiking is something that is more fun and safer when done in a group. If you do hike alone, make sure to tell people where you are going, the route you are taking and when to expect you back. That way if something goes wrong, people will know where to find you.If your friends or family aren’t into the great outdoors, then this is a great way to meet new people! There are all sorts of outdoors groups and clubs that you can join for free to get outside and make new friends. Check on community events boards or Facebook for a group near you!

 

 

The Frugal Gear Junkie

A good gear setup/collection is not the result of one trip to MEC (unless you have WAY more money than me…), its not even the result of one season. It is the result of years of ‘collecting’ or buying things as you need them. To any adventurer, their assortment of gear represents a huge investment.

Good quality gear, from boots to clothes to packs or tents, will have a bigger price tag than the poorly made comparison products, but splurging for the quality product is almost always worth it. The good stuff will last you for years, if not a lifetime, of adventuring.

But that being said, there are ways to get gear for less; you can cross your fingers and wait for sales, or you can learn the art of thrift-store shopping for gear. Good gear never dies, it just goes on to a new home.

Some of my best childhood memories are of perusing thrift shops and yard sales with my parents. My dad was always on the hunt for tools or bike and car parts. My mom loves antiques and a great deal. From my parents, I learned how to judge the quality of something. My mom can feel fabric and glance at stitching and tell you how well made something is. That skill is essential when it comes to buying gear second-hand.

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I have come across some pretty awesome stuff gear-wise in thriftshops or yardsales; my first ever hiking pack (an aluminum external frame/canvas pack for my first ever backcountry camping trip in grade 10) came from a thrift shop and my whitewater kayak was bought at a yardsale.

The ‘Frugal Gear Junkie’ is going to be a series of posts that highlights the do’s and don’ts of buying used gear and showing some of my (and your!) best gear finds. I want to see the gear finds that you have made! You can message me your photos or tell me about your experiences gear shopping for a chance to be featured.

I love new gear as much as the next person, but I also really enjoy the challenge and excitement of thrift shopping. You never know what you are going to find and there are some real treasures out there!

Be sure to message me your photos/gear stories! You can send them to thenorthernlife@outlook.com

Gear Review: Keen Uneek Sandals

I have lived in Keens forever. My first pair of hiking boots were keens and I have been wearing Keen Newports for as long as I have been canoeing. I have always loved the quality of Keen footwear, as well as the fact that it all looks great. I have big feet (size 10 womens) so I have always been pretty cautious about what I put on my feet because I really don’t want them to look any bigger than they already are. I also work jobs where being on my feet is critical and blisters or sore feet would be detrimental.

I love my Keen Newports (you know, the classic canoeing sandal with a hard toe that makes them great for hiking and saving your toes from encountering hard objects) but they can be heavy and not the prettiest for wearing off-trail.

Let me introduce you to my new favorite light summer shoe:

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The Keen Uneek. These sandals are very different looking, but I have to say I love them. They are two pieces of paracord and a sole. End of story. They are incredibly light weight, but the foot bed is super supportive and comfortable. I started out just wearing them around casually, but have since started doing light hiking in them. They are the perfect all around summer shoe for non-technical wear. Since I got these, I get complimented on them every time I wear them (I also get a lot of people who want to touch them and tell me how odd they are). In my opinion, they are super photogenic and make a great ‘I was here’ photo since they are such a distinctive shoe.13092489_258354097850109_682641639_n

For example, I snapped this from the lookout over Banff on the way up to Norquay. I needed something to put everything into perspective, and my feet were about all I had. The day that I took this, I was touring friends around Banff on their first ever visit. It was a long day of walking and exploring (and also one of the hottest days of the year so far!) so these sandals were the perfect shoe for the job. They also make it super easy to stick your feet in a stream or lake to cool down without the effort of peeling off shoes and putting socks back onto wet feet.

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I am definitely looking forwards to lots of adventures in these adorable, funky shoes! Watch for my feet in my photos 😉

 

FireFighter Gift Guide (Part 1)

It should never be hard to shop for a firefighter, we are all gear junkies. But just in case you are having some trouble, I have created Part One of the ultimate gift guide for the firefighter in your life.

Cool T-shirt:

How do you know if someone is a firefighter? Because all their shirts say so.

But seriously, firefighters love cool t-shirts. And nowadays there are so many cool firefighter owned companies making wicked t-shirts. Don’t settle for boring. This is an easy gift-able item, as sizing is pretty easy to find out or guesstimate.

Here are some of my favourites:

You can check them out/shop here:

Black Smoke Apparel

Black Helmet Apparel

Salty Dog Apparel

 

Recycled Fire Hose Belt:

Maybe your firefighter needs something to hold their pants up? There are all sorts of awesome belts on the market made out of retired and cleaned fire hose, but my favourite is from The Rustic Firefighter.

They have all sorts of different belts, ranging from casual to belts that, dare I say it, could be worn with dress pants.

 

Wedges:

No, not the delightfully seasoned potato. Wedges are an incredibly versatile tool that every firefighter should carry on them. Wedges range in size and from wooden triangles cut out of 2×4 to my favourite, the Wedge It.

The Wedge It is brightly coloured and designed to hold a door open three ways. My favourite way to use it is to hook it over the hinges and it props the door wide open. The bright colours make it noticeable, and harder to forget. Which is pretty important when you have 101 things on your mind.

 

Leatherman:

Growing up, my dad always had a multi tool on his belt and could fix pretty much anything on the go. I learned from a young age that a multi-tool was something that you should have on you at all times. This belief was re-enforced on my very first duty shift at the fire hall. I found myself constantly scrambling for this tool or that tool, when if I had been carrying a multi-tool I would have been all set.

Not all multi-tools are created equal. In my opinion, Leatherman are the best of the best. Made in the USA, and backed by a 25 year guarantee. My personal favourite Leatherman is the Surge. The Surge is rugged and large, but feels like your holding something real. There is nothing flimsy or delicate about this tool.

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My second favourite Leatherman is The Raptor, perfect multi-tool for medical calls. The Raptor tool is essentially an oxygen wrench, ring cutter and window punch built into a heavy-duty set of medical shears.

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Rescue Tool:

There are so many variations on a rescue tool, but most of them do the same basic things: Cut seat belts and break windows. My favourite is another Leatherman product, the Z-Rex. What I love most about this tool is the shape. It makes it easier to use than any other rescue tool I have gotten to use. Its also pretty reasonably priced and you can get replaceable blades for the seatbelt cutter portion.

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Globe Fire Boots:

Now this present is for the firefighter in your life whom you love more than anything. It is pricey, but I have learned that you don’t f around with footwear in any part of your life. Blisters can wreck your best day and make you perform sub-par. This winter I broke down and bought myself a pair of the 14” leather pull on fireboots from Globe and they are absolutely incredible. They are so comfortable, and come with two different insoles to customize the fit. No more sloppy fitting boots.

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Socks:

There is nothing worse for your feet than cheap socks. I used to be totally okay with buying 12 packs for $9.99 at Walmart, but nowadays I am a bit of a sock snob. Good socks insulate when its cold, wick moisture when its warm and stop you from getting blisters. My personal favorites are Darn Tough and IceBreaker. At $15-$30 a pair of sucks, they are pretty pricey, but 100% worth it. Both of these brands make mostly merino wool socks, which means they also cut down on foot odor. What makes the price really worth it? Aside from no more stinky feet, no more blisters and the most comfortable socks you’ve ever owned? The fact that they are guaranteed for life. Both Darn Tough and IceBreaker will replace your socks if you manage to wear them out. It does not get much better than that.

Icebreaker:

So I mentioned IceBreaker in the sock section, but what is it? IceBreaker is a brand of clothing out of New Zealand whose clothing is made almost entirely out of Merino Wool. Merino wool feels like the softest of cotton, so it is not itchy. But it is so much more breathable than cotton and last a lot longer. Merino wool doesn’t get stinky when you sweat into it and it can be washed in a sink and will dry within hours. Merino is also anti-flammable. You can light it, but it wont burn (within reason). This makes it great as a gift for wildland firefighters who have to wear natural fibers under their gear. I know what you are probably thinking, ‘Wool? In the summer?’ and yes, I am saying you should wear wool in the summer. Merino wool insulates in the cold but breathes when its hot, so it is much better at regulating your temperature in all weather. IceBreaker makes a wide range of clothing: baselayers, to t-shirts, to jackets. All of it is worth its weight in gold.

 

Recycled Bunker Gear Bag:

There are a bunch of companies that make things out of retired fire service gear, and love the variety of bags that are on the market. Most are customizable with your name or department, and some can even be made out of your, or a loved ones, gear.

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Past Into New, a company out Ontario makes some pretty cool bags, as well as a bunch of other neat recycled items.

 

Halligan Bottle opener:

A halligan is known as a tool that is meant to FSU (abbreviating in case kids read this, I’m sure you can figure it out). It’s a super versatile tool that can open pretty much anything, even your beer. Well, at least this mini version can. This is a pretty sweet little gift for an beer loving firefighter (me!). Buy yours here.

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VX Gloves:

My favourite vehicle extrication gloves were a gift from my parents. Schmitz Mitts are virtually indestructible, yet incredibly comfortable to work in. There are a couple different variations, from the basic to the waterproof to the winterized, so you can pick the pair that is perfect for you. I have an incredibly hard time finding gloves that fit me (being a woman and all…) but my pair of Schmitz Mitts in a size small are perfect. They took some breaking in to get them to the point where I have full dexterity, but they are now perfect.

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Rite-in-the-rain notebooks:

How many times have you dug through the med bag, looking for that crumples piece of paper so you can record vitals? It happened enough to me that when I saw the ‘Rite In The Rain’ Vitals notebook that I grabbed it, bought it, and put it straight in my grab bag for fire. The pages are sturdy and virtually indestructible, they are waterproof and easy to tear out and hand over to EMS. Check them, and their other First Responder notebooks out here.

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Anything from #IveGotYourBack911:

Seriously. This company is amazing. It was started by paramedics in Ontario as a social movement to raise awareness around mental illness, specifically PTSD in First Responders. It serves to remind all of us that we are not alone, we are a family.

They have an awesome assortment of clothing and gear, some of which can be customized based on your designation.

 

Well that is it for part one, stay tuned for part two!

 

Outdoor Adventure Show Calgary

Sunday, March 20th was one of the nicest weather days of the year so far; the temperatures hit 15 degrees Celsius and the sun was shining brightly in a perfectly blue sky. Patios were open across Calgary and it would have been the perfect day to be out hiking in a t-shirt or paddling one of the newly open mountain lakes. On any other day like this, you would find me outside. But last weekend I had a pretty awesome reason to spend the day inside: The Outdoor Adventure Show was in town!

As an outdoor professional and a passionate adventurer, I am a bit of a gear junky and travel nerd. I have a list of places I want to go, trails I want to hike and things I want to try, but I am also always on the hunt for new ideas and inspirations. Thanks to the OAS, I have a whole bunch of new places in mind!

Walking into the show is a bit overwhelming at first, at least for someone who spends most of their time outside in relatively quiet places. All of the booths were brightly colored, and tempted people in with flashy slogans, gorgeous adventure photos and bowls of treats or swag to give away.

With displays that included African Safaris, Eco tours in South America and some closer-to-home booths from Parks Canada and Jasper Tourism, there was something for everyone. Whether you were looking for an elaborate and lavish getaway in a foreign country, or a weekend road trip close to home, there really was something for everyone.

In the summer, I spend as much time as possible on the water in a canoe or kayak, and last year I took up Stand Up Paddle Boarding. I am in the market for a new boat (either a flat water kayak or a solo canoe, I cant decide yet) so walking into the show and seeing rack upon rack of gorgeous watercraft was amazing! One of the big highlights of the show for many people is the big pool set up in the middle of the hall. There was always something happening on the water; everything from paddling beautifully crafted canoes, to SUP yoga and even a lesson on how to roll a kayak. I found myself constantly circling back to the pool to see what was new.

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^This is my favourite photo from the show 😉

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Watching the folks from Tofino Paddle Surf doing yoga on SUPs was by far one of my favorite parts of the show! I am pretty new to the world of SUPing. My first attempt was about 3 years ago with an instructor on Lake Superior. Lake Superior is a massive lake that behaves a lot like the ocean, so trying to balance on what is essentially an oversized surfboard in giant rolling waves proved to be more than I could handle. I was pretty disheartened at how badly I did that first time, but last summer, with the help of a good friend who is a SUP instructor, I decided to give it another go and I fell in love. As much as I love SUPs and yoga, combining the two is definitely way above my current level for balancing. But give me time, I’ll get there!

After hanging around the pool for probably waaaaay too long, it was time for the Abandoned Alberta Photography Seminar. Scott Dimond and Robert Scott had an incredible portfolio of photographs that they shared with their audience. The photography seminar booth was full, with people crammed in the back and sitting on the floor, all to hear these guys talk about their search for the perfect abandoned buildings (and boats!). They shared their individual stories, and then talked about how they had met and come together. Nowadays they teach workshops here in Alberta on photographing abandoned structures. Each year they pick a new location for the multi-day workshop and spaces fill fast! Their three workshops for this year are already booked solid, but they have started a waiting list and if there are enough people they will plan another one. Both Dimond and Scott have travelled extensively, with some of their most stunning photos coming out of Iceland and Germany. This seminar was well worth the time, and I will definitely look at signing up for an Abandoned Alberta workshop next year.

All in all, the Outdoor Adventure Show was a lot of fun and gave me lots of great ideas for future trips. Its so nice to actually be able to talk to experts from different companies and locations, one on one and ask all those questions that you can’t necessarily just Google. These people know what they are talking about and they have lived these experiences, and at the Outdoor Adventure Show you get to meet them all in one place.

I am excited for the trips I have planned this year, to which I have added some new stops since visiting the show and I can’t wait to visit the show again next year!

 

Dear Eddie Bauer

Anyone who tells you that a job cant inspire, or wont shape and change you is wrong. It is largely because of a part time job that I have become the person that I am today.

Dear Eddie Bauer (and staff),

I worked for your company for 6 years, off and on, and because of that job I have become the woman I am today.

I grew up in rural southeastern Ontario, in the middle of farm country where spending time outside, or going for a walk in the woods wasn’t an event, it was just part of life. I spent plenty of time outside growing up, but until about 8 years ago, could never have been described as outdoorsy. My family did not hike, and my mothers idea of camping is a Super 8 motel.

I grew up being told by everyone around me (although never by my parents) that girls were supposed to look and act a certain way, or be interested in certain acceptable things. I was fine with that, with those expectations until in grade 10 when I elected to take an Outdoor Gym class. In the class I got introduces to hiking and ‘real’ (backcountry) camping and I was hooked. The semester ended, but I kept finding ways to get outside and explore, hiking the different nature trails around my home.

That summer I visited Jasper National Park with family, and for the first time I did what I would now consider a real hike. There were hills, I got blisters, I was tired and I loved every second of it. It was so much more challenging and more rewarding than the easy strolling nature trails I had so far experienced.

Fast forward to spring the next year: I was looking for a part time job where I could work with good people in a fun environment. My mother has shopped at Eddie Bauer for as long as I can remember, and on one such shopping trip there with her, she pointed out to me the ‘Now Hiring’ poster in the fitting room. I applied and a few days later  I was sitting down with the store manager for a job interview.

I still remember that interview as clearly as if it was yesterday. The store manager sat me down in her office and told me what Eddie Bauer as a company stood for. The company values of quality and integrity stuck with me. As did the ‘Get Outside’ program for employees. The manager asked me if I considered myself ‘Outdoorsy’ and I eagerly told her about my recent introduction to hiking. I remember being able to name off every hike I had done up to that point (because I had done so few that I could remember them all individually…) and feeling pretty proud of myself. The manager must have seen something in me, because shortly after that interview I started work at Eddie Bauer in the Quinte Mall (Belleville, Ontario).

I started working at EB just before the launch of First Ascent, a brand new, groundbreaking line of mountaineering and technical gear. I remember the excitement in the store as the product started to arrive. A big flat screen tv was installed in the store and showed a continuous loop of daring adventures: climbing mountains, kayaking over waterfalls and all sorts of other incredibly inspirational footage. Watching this footage constantly, seeing the interviews with the guides and athletes made me want to push my boundaries. It showed me that there was a potential for non-traditional careers. It showed me that I could live a life full of adventure.

Working at EB also prepared me for a life of adventure. When I started there, I knew next to nothing about gear. I got a full education in technical fabrics and features, fitting backpacks, how to layer for any weather or any environment and I gained an appreciation for good quality gear and a company that actually stands behind their gear and backs it up with a warranty.

About a year after I first started with EB, I knew the time had come to start trying to find my own adventurous life. I applied for a job as a Park Ranger with Ontario Parks and got hired on at Bon Echo Provincial Park. I spent my summer hiking, paddling and exploring and after that point I knew there was no going back, I had found my passion.

But Parks is a seasonal job. Luckily Eddie Bauer was a place I could go back to for the winters. For five years I worked with Ontario Parks, travelling all over the province hiking and photographing and exploring, returning to the amazing team at Eddie Bauer when the weather turned cold. Throughout my career as a ranger, I practically lived in my Eddie Bauer gear and clothes. I have travelled from coast to coast and have worn my EB and First Ascent gear while hiking mountains, horse packing the mountains, canoeing northern lakes, exploring ice volcanoes and so much more.

About two years ago I moved out to Kananaskis, Alberta where I now work year round as a hiking/snowshoe/canoe guide and firefighter. I am outside every single day, no matter the weather and because of the layering and gear knowledge I learned at Eddie Bauer, I am always prepared.

I am truly living my dreams, sharing my passion for adventure, nature and exploration with people each and every single day. I spend my days paddling clear mountain likes, summiting mountains and exploring waterfalls.

Eddie Bauer really inspired my love for the outdoors and prepared me for my life and career as a professional adventurer. If my gear could talk, it would tell some incredible stories. I still have almost all of the Eddie Bauer gear I started out with, and have added on to it throughout the years. My original Little Tahoma backpack is still one of my most frequently used pieces of gear.

I wouldnt be who I am or where I am today if it wasnt for the inspiration I had while working at Eddie Bauer. It was a part time job that has lead to a life full of adventure.

Sincerely,

Chelsea Scott

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Outdoor Adventure Show – Calgary

On March 19th and 20th, the Outdoor Adventure show is coming to BMO Centre!

This show will have all sorts of awesome travel and adventure exhibitors and is sure to make you crave a new adventure!

The Camera Store will be putting on a series of photography workshops on topics ranging from Adventure photography, to gadgets, to landscapes and a particularily interesting looking seminar called Abandoned Alberta.

The list of exhibitors covers a little bit of everything! Parks Canada will be there, as will Canmore/Kananaskis Tourism, plus some more exotic Adventure exhibits like Go Safari Tours.

Show info can be found on the OAS website, here.

I will be attending the show and doing a write up on it afterwards, so if you can’t make it, check back here to see how it was! I will also be scouting a new kayak and a new tent for myself, I look forward to being able to try things out before I buy them!

The organizers of the show have also given me a coupon code to share with my followers so that they can purchase discounted tickets. Check it out!

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