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Updated: 10 hours 35 min ago

Boost your hiking energy: Glutathione Rapid Boost Sports Drink review

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 07:00

I’m always on the lookout for things that are going to help me go faster, farther and hurt less after an adventure.

Better food, gear and technique all count. You can be way more fit than the next guy but if you can’t get out of bed for 2 days after then you won’t be on the trail much.

I don’t normally get into supplements or tips for eating on the blog just because we’re mostly about gear. Sometimes I get my hands on other things that could improve your hiking in other ways, and I want to let you know what I find.

That thing today is the Rob Keller Glutathione Rapid Boost sports drink that increases an important antioxidant, a pretty major one called glutathione. It does a ton of stuff around your body. I’ll explain in a second.

First, a note about the whole medical thing. I’m not a doctor, just writing about a product today I tried that should be safe for most people. Always ask your health care person, right?

Also, it’s got shellfish in there somewhere so not vegan and not for those with allergies.

What is Glutathione?

So back to glutathione.

Errr, what is glutathione? And how is this going to help me hike?

Ok, let’s back up a little and explain.

Whenever you get sick, stressed, work out hard, hike long distances or anything else thats rough on your body, you end up with oxidants floating around in your body. They’re the result of normal processes but they’re unstable and need to be dealt with.

This is where anti-oxidants come in. They bind together with the oxidants and prevent them from causing inflammation. Otherwise the oxidants run around making you feel like crap.

Glutathione is one of the best anti-oxidants there is. Best meaning it does a ton of good stuff in your body.

It helps with your cells metabolism (power plants), moves things around in the blood, can help with altitude sickness, detoxify things coming into our body and tons of other stuff.

I won’t go into all the sciency details here. The Rob Keller site has a ton of info in their Glutathione ebook.

But Glutathione isn’t one of the things in the drink. Wait, how does that work?

What is Rapid Boost drink and what does it do?

So, right, glutathione isn’t in the drink.

All the ingredients that are in the drink work together to activate all the glutathione-building processes. The theobromine, N-Acetyl Cysteine and L-Glutamine help create more Glutathione in your body. The other ingredients do helpful things as well.

You get 15 pixie sticks of powder to dissolve into 8-12 oz of water.

From the Rapid Boost page:

Vitamin C – Reduces oxidative damage from exercise.

L-Theanine – Amino acid found in green tea. Improves concentration and attention span.

Quercetin – Natural flavonoid that increases endurance, exercise recovery and fuels fat burn.

N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine – Increases joint comfort, mobility and flexibility.

Selenium – Antioxidant mineral. Reduces oxidative stress during exercise.

B6, B12 & Niacin – Important to production and repair of cells, including red blood cell.

A whole cocktail of good stuff in there.

One thing to note that glutathione isn’t an electrolyte. It’s not like a Nuun tablet or Clif Shot Bloks. If you need something to replenish those from sweating a lot you’ll need to bring something more. You will get lots of liquids from drinking all the Rapid Boost though. The glutathione and other ingredients are going to help your body recover from heavy exertions.

Why is that good for hiking and adventures?

So with the other ingredients in the drink, it gives you energy, helps you focus for longer, hike longer, recover faster and get sick less. Good deal if you ask me.

Hiking, running and riding can be hard on your body. It has to recover in between bouts of running trails and scrambling mountains. The better your food and drinks are the faster it’s going to recover so you can get at it again.

Like sleep, giving your body high quality fuel is going to result in the most energy and focus. Garbage in, garbage out, they say. Feed your body junk and you’ll feel like junk.

The better you feel on a hike, the more fun it will be and the farther you’ll want to go. Hiking on a wicked hangover isn’t much fun. Hiking refreshed, full of energy and a clear mind is the best way to a satisfying hike.

The ReviewRecovery

I’m not usually sore after hiking. Most of my hikes are long and slow and don’t put a lot of pressure on my body. The fast power hikes can certainly hurt a few days later. Most of my CrossFit workouts lately have been intense and I’m almost always sore from those.

The Rapid Boost drink seems to help with the recovery on that. Day 2 after a workout is much less painful. Adding in an extra litre of water certainly helps with recovery as well.

Immune System Boost

Every seems to be sick right now. We’ve had a terrible run right now with my family and everyone in the office sick multiple times so far this year. Some of them are still sick! I’m constantly battling colds I’m sure and trying to keep my head above the sicknesses.

A few days now I’ve woken up with a touch of a sore throat but after throwing back some Rapid Boost, I’m good to go again. I’m not sure if it’s the massive dose of vitamin C or the glutathione that does it. Either way I’m happy for the immune system boost.


It’s been subtle and hard to differentiate from the caffeine boosts of coffee during the day but there’s a nice little boost of energy after a Rapid Boost. Early or late morning on a hiking trip would be a nice time to have one.


The flavour is kind of a citrus-berry mix that’s easy to drink. I thought I might have to choke down the drink like some others are but it’s been easy to drink. All except the bits at the end.

Slow to dissolve

There are always some bits at the end that don’t dissolve no matter what I do. Some other bloggers noticed it as well. Shaking and shaking still doesn’t get rid of them. I want all the goodness so usually end up just with a shot at the end with some floaties in it. Not the best but it’s not terrible and I don’t want to waste any of it.


Should you get some Glutathione Rapid Boost?

If you feel great and have tons of energy on the trail all the time then maybe you don’t need any.

If you’re feeling a bit sluggish or like you might be sick with your tent mates cold then these are great to have along with you. I’ve been having one of the 15 pixie sticks almost every day but it would be good to tuck a few of these in your pack for a trip. Grab a stick any time you need an energy or immune boost or just a new flavour to the water.

The post Boost your hiking energy: Glutathione Rapid Boost Sports Drink review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Buff Hats: The Anti-Stink Toque

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 07:00

I always thought Buff just made Buffs. But I reviewed the Canadian Collection Buff last week and mentioned Buff doesn’t just make the one thing. They now have balaclava’s, bandana’s, hats and toques as well.

I’m never very far from a toque on most trips. Out running, skiing, riding, hiking and sailing I throw on a toque to stay warm or just to cover up my crazy adventure hair. Most of my toques are quite thick. Nice and toasty for sitting around or moderate movement in the winter but too warm for moving hard or anything in the shoulder seasons. The Buff toques are now my lightweight option.


Buff has 4 types of hats and toques. For toques, they have Reversible Microfibre, Polar Fleece and Microfibre, and Merino versions. For hats they have a polyester running hat with a neoprene brim which makes it easy to fold. I got my hands on the Reversible Microfibre and Polar Fleece versions to run them through some trips over this past winter.

Just to clarify toques are called hats on the website. The runnings hats are called caps.

I took both toques hiking, running and camping over the winter and spring. Both are super comfortable to wear but are suited to different purposes or conditions. Let’s dig into the differences.

What are they made of?

Both the toques are microfibre polyester, a soft, wicking, fast-drying fabric just like in the regular Buffs. The reversible model is microfibre inside and out where as the fleece model is fleece on the inside against your skin and microfibre on the outside.

The microfibre polyester is treated with Polygiene, a silver-ion anti-odor treatment. Here’s a bit more on that.


Sweating hard in your shirt, socks and toques creates perfect conditions for smelly bacteria to grow. It’s not your sweat that smells, it’s the bacteria that builds up in the warm, moist conditions in the fabric. Get rid of the bacteria, get rid of the smell.

Wool naturally has anti-bacterial properties but what happens if you can’t wear wool or just want something that wicks and dries faster? Synthetics are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

Activated charcoal and silver treatments are now the go to solutions for the smell in synthetic fabrics, both eliminating bacterial growth in the fabric. Polygiene is a silver treatment on the microfibre polyester before it’s made into anything.

The silver chloride in the fabric lasts the lifetime of the garment. You don’t have to wash it as much because it smells less. When you do, a quick wash with mild soap then hang to dry is all you need. You spend less time washing and the shirts, toques and socks spend less time being battered around in the washer and dryer.

Hook loop on top

There is a small transparent loop of thin plastic on the top of both the hats. I think they’re for hanging to dry or store I have to confirm that. I think they just look funny and will probably just cut them off after I confirm what they’re actually for.


I love how soft and smooth the microfibre and fleece are. Even the softest merino can’t yet match how smooth synthetics are. I tend to stick with merino for most things because of the temperature regulation and the smell factor. But with Polygiene solving the smell problem, synthetics look much more attractive for moderate and high-intensity activities.


Both the microfibre and fleece wick well. The fleece is warmer than just the thin microfibre and insulates well when it’s wet.

Wearing the reversible microfibre against your skin will wick any moisture away. Running and hiking hard, it was keeping me dry. When the temperature warms up it becomes a trade off. Keep the toque on, trapping heat and sweating more or just take the toque off. A headband or rolled Buff to keep the sweat out of your eyes is probably the best option at that point.


Both the microfibre and polar fleece toques are the active or beanie fit Buff talks about in their sizing chart. It fit snug against your skin. If you want something looser they do have a couple models with comfort or slouchy fits.


Normally I stay away from synthetics for anything sweaty and outdoors because of the smell. Merino is my go to for toques, shirts and socks. The Polygiene in the Buff hats eliminates any smell.

The microfibre polyester and fleece are so soft it’s easy to forget their on. To wear overnight or for multiple days, I’d be inclined to go with synthetic for the softness.

Find more about the Buff reversible microfibre hat and the Buff polar fleece and microfibre hat on the Buff site.

Thanks! And a disclaimer

I got these hats for free from Buff to review. I wasn’t paid to review them. I accept free items to review so I can test and review as much gear as possible. More reviews means you have more information when you go to buy something. I use them hard and give you honest feedback about what they’re like.

Thanks so much to Buff for providing toques to get very sweaty.



The post Buff Hats: The Anti-Stink Toque appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Swiss army toque: A Review of the Buff

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 07:00

Say buff to someone and they won’t be thinking lightweight, multipurpose outdoor garment. They might be thinking some dude with huge muscles strutting around on the beach. That’s what you were thinking, right?

Well it’s actually a lightweight, multipurpose outdoor garment. It’s basically a tube of fabric that can be worn in many different ways. I never knew a fabric tube was this useful.

The first thing you need to do with a buff is figure out how to wear it.

How to wear a buff

On the website they have an image for 12 different “official” ways to wear a buff. I’d imagine the real number is far higher than that. Searching around online and talking to people, everyone wears it differently and comes up with their own ways to do it.

Here are the quick explanations for how to wear the the buff in 12 different ways.

  1. Scarf – around neck
  2. Neck warmer – around neck, over bottom of chin
  3. Face mask – pull it up to your eyes
  4. Sun guard – up over your chin and the back of your head
  5. Hood – under your chin but up over the back of your head
  6. Balaclava – Hood and up to your nose
  7. Headband – around your head
  8. Beanie – twist it in the middle and pull it down to make a toque shape
  9. Bandana – tie a knot in it and put one end on your head
  10. Sahariane – lay flat on head and pull top down over head
  11. Hair band – just like the head band
  12. Head scarf – around your head but pull it back to cover your hair too

And if that makes no sense here’s a video for a better visual.

For travelling or backpacking when you don’t have much space and can’t carry much weight having a toque, bandana, balaclava, scarf and headband in one is a pretty good deal.

The Original series made of wicking polyester (haven’t tried a merino or polar fleece) are very soft. I’d imagine the others are designed to be on your face. My favourite ways to wear it so far has been a scarf or neck warmer on cold evenings and bandana or head scarf to keep the sun off my forehead and neck.

Styles and fabrics

There are a few different fabrics for the Buffs. The Polar Buff is microfibre and fleece, and the Merino Buff is, well, merino wool. The UV Buff and the Original are polyester. The UV Buff is Coolmax Extreme that breathes and wicks the best.

I got one of the Originals from the Canadian Collection which is out now to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday this year. The polyester wicks really well in even the warmest conditions. Staying dry is priority number one to stay warm in cold conditions as well.

7 rad designs from Cameron Stevens from Burlington, Ontario make up the collection. There’s one for the North, West Coast, Rockies, Prairies, Great Lakes, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Other Buff things

Not to be content with just making tubes, Buff makes a ton of other stuff too. There are the slim fit and reflective versions of the Original Buff. They also do Bandana and Balaclava styles that are cut to be those specific shapes compared to the standard Buff tube. They even do Buffs for dogs! A couple of them in blaze orange if you’re out during hunting season.

This year was the launch of a bunch of toque’s and hats as well. I’ve been wearing the reversible microfibre toque as well as the microfibre with polar fleece version this past winter. A review on those is coming soon.

Final Thoughts

Even if you think the Buff’s are weird I suggest you give them a try. They are super useful and you can get them in a muted colour so it doesn’t scream that you’re wearing a fabric tube thingy. The new Canadian Collection is pretty rad if you’re want to collect them all or just pick one up for your favourite part of the country.

Mine has replaced a toque in my bag for most trips because of how useful they are. Even if they’re just a sweat band on your arm, it still doing more than just a regular ol’ toque in your bag.

The post Swiss army toque: A Review of the Buff appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Light, Soft, Stretchy: Royal Robbins Traveler Stretch Pant Review

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 07:00

Making a good hiking pant is tough. It has to be light but durable and fit well. Traveler Stretch Pant from Royal Robins has met those and then some.

I’ll dive into the specs and my experience with the Traveler Stretch Pant in this article but won’t touch on much of the history of Royal Robbins. I’ve done that in the MerinoLux 1/4 Zip Review if you want to know more.


The Traveller Stretch Pants features are simple. They fit well and are durable.

Here’s the specs:

  • Discovery Stretch Nylon (96% nylon, 4% spandex)
  • Tricot lined waistband
  • Machine wash and dry
  • Fast drying
  • UPF 50+
  • Zipper back pocket on right, Velcro back pocket on left.
  • Open front pockets with small velcro stack pocket on front right
  • Zipper stash pocket on right leg big enough for a large phone or GPS
  • Snap on the waist with with additional button
  • Burro (light brown) and Charcoal for colours

The sizing is pretty accurate. I’m a 32 (31 on a good day) and the 32 fits well. The 32 inseam is a touch long for me but I’ve got short legs so that’s to be expected. There are 30, 32 and 34 available for inseam lengths.

The nylon is softer than other nylon pants I’ve got. It’s nice to not swish swish swish as much everywhere you go. It’s now a hiking alarm for my dog. When the swishy pants come out it’s hiking time.

I couldn’t find the weight of them on Royal Robbins website. I will update this post when I found out. Their thickness is between my North Face and GoLite pants so probably around average for weight.

Good fit and comfortable

Good fit on me, could even be a bit snugger down the legs. I’ve got thick legs so if you’ve got skinny legs they might be a big big. Nice for airflow though.

The fit is pretty standard for a hiking pant, like my other North Face and GoLite pants.

I don’t find them constricting anywhere and the waist is tight enough but isn’t too tight. This will just be a sizing thing though.

I’ve only hiked in mine but they would be great for spending days of travel in. The UPF 50+ would keep you covered in hot sunny areas and if you’re caught in a rainstorm, they’ll dry quickly for you.

They don’t sag

One of the things I’ve found with these when they get wet or sweaty is they don’t sag much. Other nylon pants I’ve had, albeit thicker ones, get wet and sag, then end up dragging on the ground if they’re too long. The spandex in these gives some stretch but don’t sag much. Great combo for hiking with long pants in rainy or sweaty conditions.


The Discovery Stretch Nylon has been very durable. I often end up bushwhacking trying to find trails or get to viewpoints I’ve spotted and there is no sign of wear after many hikes.

The stretch is going to help durability here. Stiff pants will snag and tear whereas stretchy ones will move with the snag and hopefully just bounce back instead of breaking the threads and tearing.

Side pocket gets behind knee

I love side pockets to put my phone or GPS into for easy access (I can’t be without my electronics!). But the side pocket on the right leg is low and too far around the side. Anything I put it there ends up around behind my knee while I’m walking. After one hike with my phone there, I haven’t used it much for anything. Keys or anything pointy would not be comfortable.

90 out of 100 for the Traveller Stretch Pant

The Royal Robbins Traveler Stretch Pant is a great travelling and hiking pant. The soft, stretchy nylon is really comfortable and moves easily for hiking or just lounging around. I found them quieter than my other nylon pants which is nice for not screaming “HIKER HIKER HIKER!”

The deep pockets hold everything I need to like phones and GPS and with the extra zipper on the back right pocket, adds a little bit of security.

I’d like to see the side zipper on the leg moved so the contents don’t end up behind your knee when walking but it’s a good option if you need to stuff more in your pockets.

For numbers I’d give the Traveller Stretch Pant a 90 out of 100 with it’s fit, durability and comfort.

More Photos


The post Light, Soft, Stretchy: Royal Robbins Traveler Stretch Pant Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Better than merino? The Royal Robbins MerinoLux 1/4 Zip Review

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 07:00

The elusive perfect merino shirt. Does it exist? Or do they all fall apart after wearing them hard?

After finding out about merino working in a gear shop nearly 10 years ago, I’ve been infatuated with it’s amazing abilities. No smell, regulates your temperature, keeps some heat when wet. It seems like the perfect fabric for all outdoor clothing.

There’s one problem though.


It’s not very durable. Wear a piece of merino a lot and you’ll see holes in less than a year. After wearing many brands of merino  for some travel, work and all my outdoor adventures I concluded that merino wool is amazing but it just doesn’t last that long.

Today we review the MerinoLux 1/4 zip, a base or mid layer from Royal Robbins designed to be the perfect merino piece that will last longer. Will it stand up to the abuse? Let’s have a look.

But first we need a little backstory.

Who’s Royal Robbins?

Royal Robbins, the company, was created by Royal Robbins, the climber, and his wife Liz after climbing Half Dome in Yosemite. Noticing their ragged and ripped cut-off jean shorts after climbing, they realized they needed something better. Liz put together the Billy Goat, a simple, rugged short built for climbing and the apparel company was born.

Both the climbers and the company are run by a deep respect for the natural world. Royal and his friends pushed clean climbing for the first time in the late 60s, a new technique of climbing with no permanent bolts or pitons in the rock. Royals ascent of the Nutcracker in 1967 with nothing but temporary climbing protection ushered in a new era in climbing, and continued his legacy of respecting the natural world. Royal Robbins, the company, continues with that ethos today, swapping out fabrics that use less energy to make, and striving to be a more eco-friendly outdoor apparel company.

Instead of sticking with the standard polyesters used these days, they’ve upgraded to something better.

What’s Sorona?

A quick note before we look at Sorona. I apologize in advance for any misspellings of Sorona as Corona. Auto-correct was insistent that I was trying to say Corona. I wasn’t drinking while writing this (well maybe a bit of wine), just over-active auto-correct. Back to Sorona.

In their efforts to be produce performance but eco-friendly garments, Royal Robbins have included Sorona, a corn-based polyester from DuPont, to their line.

Most often combined with other materials like merino, Sorona dries and wicks like a nylon polyester but requires less energy and greenhouse gases to produce. It’s lower dying temperature requires less energy to colour and its washable in cold water. It dries fast and also lasts longer so you’re buying fewer shirts.

What’s MerinoLux?

MerinoLux which is the fabric in the 1/4 base or mid-layer we’re looking at today is Sorona polyester combined with fine merino wool.

The combination gives you the stink free benefits of merino but still wicks and dries like polyester. The merino regulates the temperature while the Sorona adds a soft, smooth feel to the fabric as well as some durability. It’s wrinkle resistant and UPF 50 for travelling in the sun.

Merino can sag when it’s wet or pulled. The Sorona prevents the sag with a slim fit to the long sleeves and body and a comfy 4 way stretch.

It still has the downside of not being machine dryable because of the merin but if you’re looking to save some energy or travelling, you’ll probably be hanging some of your gear anyways.


No matter how fine the merino, I find there is still a bit of a wool feel there. It’s hardly noticeable in most of the superfine wool garments these days but it would be nice to be as soft as polyester or fleece.

With the combination of wool and Sorona in the MerinoLux, Royal Robbins has created a very soft combination. It’s not got quite the smooth feel as straight polyester but it’s close. And still has most of the benefits of the merino wool.

Merino but durable

The whole reason merino is so popular is because of the temperature regulation and the lack of smell with sustained use. Being able to sweat in the same shirt for a week and be able to stand yourself is wondrous. The downside is lack of durability. I can’t wear my merino too much where it rubs against other gear because it just wears out.

By adding the strong but more eco-conscious Sorona polyester too the mix you get a more durable shirt with the benefits of merino. You also get better 4 way stretch than a typical merino shirt too. I have yet to hit the smelling point on this one which is impressive. Often as soon as there’s polyester in there, the smell factor goes up.


Merino can get saggy and lose it’s shape over time. MerinoLux fabric maintains it’s shape a bit better than standard merino and has good 4 way stretch. I have a medium in the MerinoLux 1/4 and it’s fairly fitted but not constricting. I usually have a merino base layer t-shirt on underneath and it fits well. It fits close enough to be it’s on base layer as well if it was cooler. The 1/4 zip makes it easy to regulate the temperature without having to take it off. Thumb loops have become my favourite thing lately. I wish it had some.


Recent runs and hikes I’ve kept my jacket and long sleeves of the 1/4 zip on much longer than I would normally. This results in a lot more sweat than usual. It’s been a sweaty test.

But that’s the point with merino and other fabrics. It has to deal with sweat well or else why would you wear it. I’ve worn the 1/4 zip for days straight now before washing and it’s yet to smell. I assumed it was going to start to smell a bit right away from the polyester but so far so good. Future testing will include a head to head with a 100% merino 1/4 zip, wearing them for as many days as it takes to smell (I will show in between!).


Though not as fast-drying as straight polyester, I’ll take a bit of a slower dry any day just so that it won’t stink. It seems to dry a bit faster than 100% merino but is still slower than polyester. I won’t say I love the feel of wet wool against my skin but it’s not a terrible thing. I don’t mind hiking in it for long periods of time.

For Travel

Having travelled for months through Australia and New Zealand for 4 months in merino, it’s my go to for any sustained adventure. Even just wearing on planes and tour buses, you won’t get more comfortable, especially when it’s warm.

You can wear the MerinoLux 1/4 zip out for a hike and then dinner than night. UPF 50 will keep you out of the sun during the day and you won’t need to do any ironing with it.

Final Thoughts

This might be the ultimate fabric for adventure. No stink temperature regulation from the merino. Faster drying and durability from the polyester. I’ll be continuing to test this as much as possible in the coming year to see what long-term durability is like but so far I’m giving it 2 thumbs up. 100% merino is amazing but it’s just not holding up to hard use. I think the blends will come out on top as the most popular in the end.

The Royal Robbins MerinoLux 1/4 Zip is a great piece for every adventure and a good one to get into for your first piece or if your merino just isn’t lasting as long as you’d like. This versatile piece can be a base or second layer over a wide range of conditions, thumb loops being one thing that would take it up one more notch for me.

Mens MerinoLux 1/4 Zip at Royal Robbins ($70 USD)

Mens MerinoLux 1/4 Zip on Amazon





The post Better than merino? The Royal Robbins MerinoLux 1/4 Zip Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Alpaca Power: Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Socks Review

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 07:00

Merino is all the rage these days for outdoors base and mid layers but alpaca is better in almost every respect, on paper at least.

Merino seems to be the best choice for most garments: soft, doesn’t stink, warm when wet, sustainably produced. But alpaca is all that plus some.

Today’s review is all about Ausangate socks made with what might be the outdoor industry’s next big fibre: Alpaca fleece.

What is Alpacor

The Alpacor High Calf Hiking Sock from Ausungate aren’t made with only Alpaca fibre, it’s a blend with 80% Alpacor, 18% Nylon and 2% Spandex. Cool, but what’s Alpacor?

Alpacor yarn is a blend of natural and synthetic fibres, one of them being Tencel, a smooth, wicking wood-based fibre. Tencel is a very soft fibre, good at wicking and likely a little cheaper than Alpaca so it helps bring the cost down a bit. Icebreaker uses Tencel in their Cool-Lite fabric.

Benefits of Alpaca

With the Alpacor yarn you should get performance that can top wool.

Hollow alpaca fleece fibre traps heat even better than fine wool strands without extra weight. This also contributes to the excellent wicking. Moisture is evaporated off the strands instead of reaching a saturation point like wool does.

Little barbs on wool cause the itchy factor. The merino produced today is so fine and the processes afterwards attempt to remove the barbs or fill in the gaps, creating a smoother strand. Alpaca doesn’t have these little barbs creating a very soft sock. The added Tencel to Alpacor is very smooth as well, often called softer than silk and used in cosmetic face masks.

Another irritant in wool is lanolin which is often removed through a chemical process. Alpaca is lanolin free naturally.

Merino wool is famous for it’s care and handling restrictions. Don’t dry it in the dryer or you’ll end up with a shirt 2 sizes to small. Alpacor socks can be washed and dried just like everything else. I did notice a slight shrinking when I accidentally dried one of mine. Nothing even noticeable out hiking though.

Some of the literature says Alpaca tensile strength is better as well, or the breaking strength when pulled from each end. There’s much debate about this online. Sounds like it depends on many other factors as to which ends up stronger in a sock so the jury’s still out on this one. If there’s any possibility I can get a stronger sock that doesn’t get holes in the heels then I’ll take it. I have to regularly replace my merino wool socks.

Likes for the Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Sock

Ok, so now we can finally get to the sock review.

These are technically winter socks on the website but I’ve been wearing them in a warm May. Every hike the last few weeks has been with the Alpaca socks and I’ve also warm them most days in my Blundstones to work and afterwards to get as much testing time in the socks as possible before writing this.

Soft and Comfortable.

The first thing you’ll notice is how soft the socks are. I don’t have a problem with merino wool but the softer the better in my mind. Comparing it side by side with a Hike+ Medium from Icebreaker there is a difference. Slight but noticeable.

There aren’t any seams inside, just the LIN toe seam above the toes to close the end. It’s slightly raised which I think is just because of the thicker fabric around the toes hitting the thinner material on top of the foot. The only part of the sock that sticks out all inside is the Ausangate logo. I can’t feel it when I wear them though.

Stretchy “compression ribs” around the middle of the foot and just above the ankle are slightly tighter than the rest and keep the sock in place. I have yet to have it move around much on me.

Good temperature

Hiking in the heat and sitting in the office in leather boots, I was expecting my feet to overheat. I run pretty warm most of the time, especially if I’m moving quickly in warm weather. I brought extra thinner socks to change into. I didn’t have to. I didn’t even think about it. Comfortable all day.

The breathable Alpacor with Tencel must be doing what it’s supposed to be. The thinner fabric on the top of the socks and front of the calf must help shed some of that heat as well.

Keeps shape and doesn’t shrink – much

The Alpacor is advertised as no shrink. Throw it in the washer and dryer just like everything else.

I accidentally tossed on of mine in the drier so I got a side-by-side test. Looks like just laying on top of one another the dried one is 1 centimetre shorter on the top. Not a big deal though, can’t even feel it when they’re on. Some of the merino garments will shrink inches in the drier. Seeing some of my own go through the drier, socks are less of an issue.


My only dislike out of all my testing so far is the tufts of thread around the Ausangate logo. I’m not sure if it’s just pilling there from wear or the extra thread from the logo creates the bumps. I’ve hardly noticed them at all yet. If you had a tight spot on your hiking boots just above your toes they might irritate the top of your foot. The rest of the sock is so comfortable and well-made, hopefully they can sort out the thread in the logo.

Will we see more alpaca?

Before looking into all the alpaca information for this review, I had no idea it was such a unique and high-performing material.

The alpaca wool industry is not nearly as mature as the merino wool side of things. I’m very interested to see how it grows and spreads. I have a feeling we’ll all be wearing Alpaca base layers very soon.

Get a pair of Alpacor socks

The Alpacor socks are about the same price as merino at $19.99 (USD). Find them at Ausangate or Amazon.


More Photos

Disclosure Stuff

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Alpacor Hiking Socks from Ausangate as coordinated by Deep Creek PR, an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company, in consideration for review publication.

In other words, I get these items free to review. I use these connections to get more rad gear to test so you guys get more gear reviews. All opinions on the items are my own. Honest feedback about the products are in everyone’s best interest. Gear companies can make better gear and you can get straight recommendations on which is the best for you.


The post Alpaca Power: Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Socks Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

GoalZero Flip 30 Review

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 10:00

GoalZero started in 2009 out of Robert Workmans work abroad to reduce poverty. He was frustrated with all the obstacles to helping people create sustainable lifestyles.

After almost giving up and leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he was helping at the time, he came to a realization:

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

One of the issues was power. Getting reliable power opens a lot of doors for people in developing countries and helps those in need after emergencies like natural disasters.

Since the start with a focus on helping in developing countries and emergency situations GoalZero has really pushed into the outdoor market with charging, storage and lighting solutions for base camping and backpacking. Recent innovations have included partnering with tent makers for lighting and power storage built right into the tent.

The Flip 30 is another well-made power storage solution from GoalZero aimed at anyone needing extra power on the go. If you own a smart phone or tablet these days, that’s you.

What is the Flip 30?

The GoalZero Flip 30 is a USB battery pack for charging your USB devices. Charge it up with a laptop, wall outlet or solar panel and then take it on your adventures to power up other USB devices. It’s perfect for charging your phone, tablet, cameras or GPS.

How to Use the Flip 30

Using the Flip 30 is easy. Plug it in anywhere with the attached USB plug. The 4 blue lights on the side flash until it’s full. Each of the lights show 25% so 2 lights mean it’s 50% full.

When you need a charge plug in your USB device and press the charge button by pressing the USB plug into the side of the Flip 30.

If you need to know how much charge is left on the battery, click the USB plug button once and the lights will come on show a light for each 25%.


The GoalZero Flip 30 is a pretty simple device. Charge it up from a laptop, wall, or solar charger. Take it with you on adventures and use it to charge any USB device like phone, GPS or camera.

Here’s a few specs of the Flip 30:

  • flip-out USB plug
  • one 5V 2.1A USB output
  • 5V 1.5A input to charge from laptop, wall or solar charger
  • charge status lights
  • 7800 mAh (3 phones charges or 1 tablet charge)

What’s a mAh?

All battery packs will have a size rating in mAh, or milliamps. It’s the rating for the size of the battery in them, how big their gas tank is. These numbers are important when you’re taking a battery pack on a trip to charge something. You’ll need to find out how much each of your devices takes to charge.

If I wanted to charge an iPhone 7, it’s battery requires 1960 mAh to charge so if I have 7800 mAh total in the Flip 30 then I’ll get 3 to 4 charges for the phone.

4 charges * 1960 mAh = 7840 mAh

That’s cutting it close and requires the Flip 30 to be brand new, working perfectly and fully charged. Most batteries capacity drop a bit over time.

If you wanted to charge an iPad mini that requires 6470 mAh, then you’ll get 1 charge and have a bit left over.

7800 – 6470 = 1330 mAh.

The Flip 30 is a small to medium sized battery pack these days. You can get 10,000 to 20,000 mAh charges in relatively small sizes. The bigger batteries will be heavier. Add up the number of charges for each device you’ll need on your trip for the total number of battery packs you’ll need.

Built-in USB plug

The best feature about the Flip 30 is it’s built in USB plug. You don’t need to carry around a USB cable to charge it, just flip out the plug and plug it in. I’ve forgotten the charger cable for other batteries I’ve had and been stuck carrying around a dead battery. Not as useful.

This flip out plug is a mixed blessing. Trying to plug the Flip 30 into something other than a laptop isn’t great, it hangs off the flip out plug. So far nothing has broken and everything is charging properly. I feel like hanging off a desktop computer or wall charger too much puts a lot of stress on the flip out plug and might lead to issues.

Solid construction

Some electronics feel cheap and like they’ll fall apart after a few uses. Definitely not the case with the GoalZero Flip 30. The case on the battery feels solid like it would survive drops from a good distance. I haven’t tried to drop mine to see how it would survive but it’s fallen to the ground a few times on the dirt or carpet with no issue.

The flip out USB plug is the only thing I worry about. Rotating out, the wires have to move. Only long term use is going to show how long the plug lasts. So far it’s worked great.

Long USB cord issue

The only issue I’ve had with the Flip 30 is an intermittent one. One of my 10’ long USB cords causes the Flip 30 to stop charging after a random amount of time. All my shorter cords have worked perfectly.

Usually I get 5 to 10 minutes of charging with the long cable and then it stops like it’s not connected to anything and I have to press the charge button again.

Chatting with a GoalZero rep, they are aware if the issue and are working on a fix. Normal length USB cords still work perfectly.

Alternative: GoalZero Venture 30

One alternative to the Flip 30 is the Venture 30. Another one by GoalZero the Venture 30 is pretty similar to the Flip 30 with a couple of differences.

The similarities are that it’s got a 7800 mAh charge, the same capacity as the Flip 30. Outside of that it’s got a few notable differences.

The Venture 30 is waterproof. IPX6 water resistant which means splash resistant getting a bit wet from rain or snow isn’t going to phase this battery. It’s not dunk resistant though. Don’t chuck it in the lake.

There are three connections on the Venture 30 compared to the Flip 30’s one. Two of the connections are just female usb ports and one male micro-USB port.

The downside to the additional features is that the Venture 30 is more expensive at $99 US and 2 oz heavier. If you need the waterproofness or additional connections though the extra cost is worth it.



  • Solid construction
  • No cord required with the flip-out plug
  • Charge status lights
  • Compatible with any solar charger with USB out


  • Thicker than other batteries (but short)
  • Doesn’t work with some long USB cords (will be fixed soon)
  • Only one port

If you need power on the goal, GoalZero has a solution for you. If it’s waterproof then the Venture 30 is the one for you. Otherwise, the Flip 30 is less expensive and still has enough power for a few phone charges. It’s thicker than some other battery packs but much more compact. Depends on where you’re going to put it for what form factor you need.

Whether we like it or not, we’re dependent on the little gadgets in our pockets. You might have the willpower to leave your phone at home for all your hikes. I don’t. And then the battery dies. But not any more.

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Categories: Hiking