How prepared are you for the ski seasnon?

As ski season approaches, you may be more than ready to hit the slopes—but is your gear?

For some pro tips on prepping your equipment, RootsRated spoke with Zach Yates, gear guru and repair shop manager at Footloose Sports, a popular ski shop in Mammoth, California. The bottom line, Yates says: “You want everything as predictable as possible,” in order to prevent injury and set yourself up for a kick-ass season on the slopes. Here, Yates' tips on how to make that happen.

1. Start with your skis.

First things first: Make like the Karate Kid and start waxing. You’ll be waxing off first—as in, removing that grubby layer of wax you (hopefully) rubbed on at the end of last season to prevent oxidation and damage to the base of the ski. Then, grab some new wax—it’s designated for various temperatures, depending on where you’ll be skiing—and don’t skimp on applying it.

“You can never overwax a ski—the more wax the better,” Yates says. “For World Cup racers, their skis are prepped 20-30 times before they hit the snow. And beginners will sometimes say, 'I don’t want a lot of wax, because I don’t want to go too fast,' but wax really helps to just make the ski glide better. Whenever a ski glides very well, you won’t have any resistance, and it will make everything easier.”

2. Drop the cash on detuning.

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A few words on detuning (which basically means removing burrs and blunting the edges of tips and tails to prevent them from hooking into the snow): You can do it at home, but Yates points out that you can never get back the material you wear off. Detuning generally costs around $50, and as Yates says, “it’s worth spending the money to get it done right, just like with anything."

We tend to agree. But if you must attempt it yourself, check out YouTube for videos that show the process step-by-step.

3. Give your boots plenty of love …

Your boots are your most important piece of equipment, so be sure they’re in tip-top shape before the season starts. Start by removing the liners and foot beds, making sure no creepy-crawlies made them their summer home. After airing everything out, put it all back in and buckle the boots, to help maintain the shape.

Considering buying new boots? Start shopping now, when selection is still good, and keep in mind that boots should be snug. “Everyone has a misconception that, if my boots are too tight, it’s going to hurt,” Yates says. “But it’s actually the opposite. If there’s too much movement, you’ll get a hot spot.”

But expect your new boots to be uncomfortable for the first few days. And, if you notice any trouble spots, a professional fitter can use a technique called punching out, which involves heating and stretching the plastic shell where necessary. (Don’t even think about trying it at home).

4. … and your bindings, too.

Two words here: function test. This is a critical run-through that gear specialists perform using a torque wrench on the binding to make sure it’s releasing properly. It’s crucial to get a function test on a regular basis—at least once a season, or between 15-30 days of skiing—as the factors that influence the binding setting (more on that below), including body weight, fluctuate (like that weeklong après feast of fondue and beer, for example).

“The most common injury in skiing is a knee injury from a slow, twisting backward fall, and if your bindings are set too high – say you lost weight over the summer—then you can blow out your ACL,” Yates says. “A function test costs about 20 bucks, and ACL surgery is at least $5,000.”

5. Know your number.

If you’re renting gear, be sure to ask the rental shop what your DIN setting is, if you don’t know already. Generally, the DIN setting refers to a calibrated standard that indicates the force necessary to release your bindings and reflects several factors, including your age, weight, skill level and type of skier. It will be displayed on your paperwork as well as the binding itself.

Why is it so important to know your DIN number? Because it’s a good point of reference if you need your bindings adjusted. And, as Yates points out, “At a shop that’s doing everything by the book, legally they have to tell you your DIN setting, and if they don’t, a red flag should go up.”

6. Get the skinny on your skins.

Don't overlook prepping your skins for the season, too (no judgements if you just tossed them into the closet after your last backcountry excursion). To remove old glue and all of the gunk that sticks to it, Yates recommends cutting or tearing a paper bag in pieces, placing them along the length of your skins and running a hot iron over them. Slowly remove the bag pieces, which will also pick up the old glue and grime. (Here’s a quick video tutorial ).

Follow all these steps, and your gear will be as ready as you are for ski season. See you on the slopes.

Written by Blane Bachelor for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Ivan Dimitroff

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Heli-skiing is, without question, the snow-seeking pilgrim’s holy grail. Thousands of feet of vertical, bottomless powder, nonexistent crowds, endless terrain choices—it’s no wonder alpine addicts return to the shred meccas of Alaska and Canada for their fix year after year.

But there’s one glaring issue with heli-skiing: it’s super expensive. If you’ve got cash in the bank—or are cool with siphoning money directly from your kid’s college fund into a helicopter fuel tank—then go ahead, drop $10K on the best week of your life.

However, for the adventurous powder skier or splitboarder who’s operating on a (relative) budget and doesn’t mind earning their turns, there’s another option entirely: heli-accessed ski touring.

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Flying over snow-capped trees en-route to Sentry Lodge.

Drew Zieff

Most heli-ski packages will shuttle you out to a lodge, and then fly you up into the surrounding peaks each day. With burning fuel being the biggest financial factor on a heli trip, it’s no surprise that the price is as steep as the peaks you’ll ski. On a heli-accessed ski touring trip, however, you need only rely on the chopper to bring you to and from the lodge, while the skiing you do is entirely human-powered, hence the minimized cost.

On a recent weeklong trip with Pacific Alpine Guides to Sentry Lodge outside of Golden, BC, I learned firsthand how awesome a heli-accessed ski touring trip can be.

6 Reasons to go on a Heli-Accessed Ski Touring Trip

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Carefully loading up the helicopter with “necessities.”

Drew Zieff

1. Lower Cost: These types of trips are drastically less expensive than a full-on heli-skiing package, meaning you can stay longer and pay less. A heli trip, for example, will often cost more than $1000 a day, while a trip to Sentry Lodge as supplied by Pacific Alpine Guides costs $2250 (early bird pricing) for a full week. Included in that price is gourmet yet hearty fare whipped up by a professional backcountry chef, a hut custodian to keep the place clean and the sauna stoked (yup, there’s a sauna), plus the services of two expert ski guides to help you make the most of your trip.

2. Get to Know the Terrain: You get a more intimate feel for the surrounding terrain and snowpack stability by skiing uphill. Sentry Lodge is located near treeline—above which you’ll find soaring peaks and below you’ll score the best pillow lines of your life. Touring this terrain with Tyler Reid, an avalanche educator and the lead guide/owner of Pacific Alpine Guides, will help you learn more about safe travel in avalanche terrain and all manner of backcountry decision-making.

3. Less Environmental Impact, More Connection to Nature: There’s less mechanized transport, which means less fuel required and less harm to the environment, at least relative to an 8-flight per day heli trip. You’ll also find more opportunity to connect with nature when you’re relying on human-powered ascents and helicopters aren’t constantly roaring overhead.

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Touring just above the hut supplies great views of the Canadian Rockies.

Drew Zieff

4. Take Advantage of the Storm Skiing: Every pro skier has horror stories of pulling their hair out and playing endless games of cards during the “down days,” stormy periods where the helicopter can’t fly. While you can certainly get snowed in at a hut, if you’re prepared to ski tour, you can make the most of your trip by shredding the trees when visibility is low and the chopper can’t fly.

5. No Lugging Supplies: Unlike pure human-powered hut trips, you don’t have to lug in all of your gear, food, and booze in your backpack. At Sentry Lodge, we brought in a full bar, boxes upon boxes of delectable grub to be prepared by our remarkably talented chef, and other hut trip “necessities” like board games and portable speakers.

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Pacific Alpine Guides team member Phil keeps it tight when dropping some of the pillows underneath the hut.

Drew Zieff

6. (Ski) Boot Camp: Of course, on any ski trip, you expect to get a fair amount of exercise. However, when you’re strictly relying on ski touring, a 7-day trip is a great way to whip your body into shape. We averaged between four and five thousand feet of vertical per day at Sentry Lodge: on some days, we did longer tours into the alpine, on others we knocked out 6 or 7 leg-burning laps through classic BC pillows.

4 BC Heli-Accessed Ski Touring Huts near Golden, BC

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A full bar! Notice the Havana Club Cuban Rum—Canada doing things right.

Drew Zieff

All four of these lodges are run by Golden Alpine Holidays outside of Golden, BC. You can contact them directly regarding availability, though my recommendation is working with a guiding outfit like Pacific Alpine Guides, as that way you’ll be covered on the guiding, cooking, and cleaning fronts and can focus solely on the skiing.

1. Sentry Lodge:

To call Sentry Lodge a hut is like calling the Palace of Versailles a hovel. Ski huts tend to be remote, tough-to-access cabins far off the beaten path, lauded for their life-giving warmth more than their luxurious amenities. Sentry Lodge, however, sports a ping-pong table, a flat screen TV, leather couches, and a wood-stoked sauna. The only thing better than hanging out in Sentry? Exploring the legendary terrain around it.

2. Meadow Lodge:

Perched high in the Esplanades, the Meadow Lodge is ideal for those skiers looking for steep (and hopefully deep) terrain. North-facing shots hold snow long after storm clouds dissipate, so chances are you’ll be able to find some powder even if there’s an uncharacteristic drought in the forecast.

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Why go to bed early? Well, for sunrises like this one.

Drew Zieff

3. Sunrise Lodge:

Sunrise is the first of the Golden Alpine Holiday’s lodges to snag the morning light—making it perfect for early risers. The early bird, as they say, gets the turn. The two-story lodge also sports a sauna and offers insane access into the Esplanade Range.

4. Vista Lodge:

Big views and big terrain characterize the Vista Hut. With five linked drainages to shred, touring skiers can chart their route through some of British Columbia’s most breathtaking terrain. A must for spring skiers looking to tackle bigger lines and couloirs.

Written by Drew Zieff for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Drew Zieff

Outdoor enthusiasts don’t have to look far to find adventure in Taos Ski Valley. Boasting some of the best rafting, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and hiking in the world, the area draws visitors from near and far looking for a taste of the great outdoors. Taos Ski Valley is tucked into the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, the southernmost subrange of the Rockies. Most of the peaks exceed 12,000 feet in elevation (including Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico), and the mountains make for a high-elevation outdoor playground that is unique to the Southwest.

Of course, there is more to the region than skiing, hiking, and biking. Off the trails, a Taos-area vacation showcases soul-warming New Mexican cuisine, a rich cultural atmosphere, and friendly accommodations. It’s unlike any place on earth and is a wonderful vacation destination for people who love the outdoors. Here are nine reasons why Taos Ski Valley is a true outdoor mecca.

1. The weather is perfect year round.

At Taos Ski Valley, everyone looks forward to a good snowstorm. When the weather outside is frightful, locals and visitors get ready to take to the mountains on skis, snowboards, or snowshoes. The snow-covered mountains offer a winter wonderland with plenty of opportunity for adventure. Because Taos sees an average of 283 days of sunshine per year, the days are fabulous in every season, even winter.

While Taos is known for its winter sports, it’s also an outdoor mecca during warm months, when people take to the hills to hike and bike, and the rivers draw paddlers and anglers. When autumn arrives, the aspens in the mountains turn brilliant shades of gold, and Taos becomes an ideal location to launch day trips to view fall colors. Rain or shine, warm or cold, there’s always an adventure waiting for you in the Taos Ski Valley.

2. It’s easy to try something new.

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From snowshoeing to climbing to paddleboarding, Taos is a great place to learn new outdoor activities.

New Mexico Tourism Department

If there’s a certain outdoor activity you’ve been dying to try, Taos is a great place for beginners. The area’s landscape and favorable weather offer excellent terrain and conditions to learn kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, paddleboarding, hot air ballooning, and even llama trekking! And, if you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of local guides that can ensure you’ll have a safe and fun experience.

3. Top-notch local gear shops provide everything you need.

Whether you’re trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time or if you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pick up some gear, clothing, and other supplies before you hit the slopes. Stop by one of Taos area’s local gear shops, which are spread throughout Taos and Taos Ski Valley, and include Le Ski Mastery, BootDoctors, Taos Sports, Alpine Extreme, and Cottam’s. If you’re visiting in the summer, Cottam’s, BootDoctors, and Taos Sports can fix you up with warm-weather gear.

4. The Taos Ski Valley scenery is in a league of its own.

You can expect to be rewarded with gorgeous views in just about any mountain town around the world, but the colorful desert landscape, breathtaking mountains, and sweeping horizons you’ll encounter in Taos Ski Valley set the region apart. A chairlift up to the peak of the ski area is a wonderful way to encounter stunning views quickly, and you’ll want to make sure you have your camera for all of your adventures either in the river, on the mountain, or in town.

Also, make sure that you’re outside during sunrise and sunset. You’ll get to experience the brilliant palette of colors that make up the New Mexico sky, and the mountains will adopt a stunning red hue when the light hits them just right. Once you experience a sight like that, you’ll truly understand why New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment.

5. The trails aren’t crowded, and folks are friendly.

Although the opportunities for fun and adventure are endless in Taos, the mountain never seems to be that crowded — at least not compared to other mountain destinations in the West. Visitors can truly enjoy connecting to nature and wandering the European-style hamlet without feeling rushed by others waiting their turn. Plus, the locals you encounter will be friendly and willing to share tips about their favorite trails, restaurants, and nearby hotspots.

6. It’s impossible to get bored.

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Taos offers a seemingly endless list of things to keep visitors occupied and entertained.

New Mexico Tourism Department

You could spend days in Taos Ski Valley without ever doing the same thing twice. Between the hundreds of hiking and biking trails, the endless snowshoeing or snowmobiling routes, and the vast ski area, there are unlimited opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. Even if you choose to just sit and take in the gorgeous scenery, you’ll still be wowed and entertained.

7. Taos Ski Valley is constantly evolving.

No trip into Taos Ski Valley is ever the same, in part because the area is always evolving. Every season, the area sees new bike trails, new chairlifts, new rental options, and new opportunities for adventure.

8. There’s always a refreshment waiting after your adventure.

After a long day on the slopes or exploring the trails, nothing hits the spot like a hearty meal and a refreshing beverage. Fortunately, Taos Ski Valley’s local bars and eateries are overflowing with great food, drinks, and good vibes. Stop in at The Bavarian for delicious German fare and craft brews in an Alpine-inspired dining room, or at the Stray Dog Cantina for a soul-warming bowl of green chile and a gigantic margarita. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, there are plenty of fine dining options available in nearby Arroyo Seco and the town of Taos, including Common Fire, Sabroso, Salt + Wine, and De La Tierra. Regardless of what you’re craving, you’ll find a place that caters to your tastes.

9. When the day is done, you’ll have a comfortable bed.

Check your worries at the door in one of the Taos Ski Valley’s unique accommodations. Whether you prefer to stay at a cozy mountain cabin or a luxurious alpine resort, you’ll find an enticing combination of plush bedding, crackling fireplaces, hot tubs, and even spa treatments to help you recover from the day and rest up for the next one. You’ll need your energy if you’re going to make the most of your Taos vacation!

If you pause for a moment and try to imagine the ideal destination for outdoor adventure, it probably looks and feels a lot like the Taos Ski Valley. With its exceptional weather, diverse natural areas, high-quality food and entertainment, and friendly vibe, this mountain town makes visitors feel as if they’ve arrived in a sort of real-world Shangri-La. While no place on Earth is perfect, folks who love the outdoors will discover that the Taos Ski Valley comes pretty darn close.

Written by Sarah Strohl for RootsRated in partnership with New Mexico Tourism Department and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by New Mexico Tourism Department

“Sustainable” and “ski areas” are traditionally not things associated with one another. However, since climate change has reached a tipping point, many outdoors enthusiasts have become more concerned about preserving the natural places they recreate. And since ski areas’ financial futures depend on having solid snow pack, they’re increasingly adopting eco-friendly attitudes. The National Ski Areas Association has helped pioneer the effort, launching its sustainable slopes program in 2000 by outlining ideal environmental standards for ski areas. In 2012, it issued a climate challenge, asking ski areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And the 2018-19 season is shaping up to be its most ambitious yet, with more than 40 ski areas taking on the challenge. Some are upping their efforts beyond reducing carbon emissions, ramping up programs and initiatives that focus on recycling and reducing water use, as well as partnering with conservation groups. Many of these efforts are virtually invisible to skiers, so visitors still have a seamless experience on the slopes and in the lodges. Here are 10 ski areas excelling in sustainability.

1. Alta Ski Area, Utah

Taking up the NSAA’s climate challenge, the Alta Environmental Center is guiding efforts to reduce the ski area’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. It’s replanting Douglas fir to cover the installation of new lifts, installing a solar array, and encouraging ecological education initiatives across the mountain. The ski is diverting food waste from landfills—to the tune of some 10 tons this season—via the Wasatch Resource Recovery program, and is adding to that effort by removing all paper take-away contains from the Buckhorn Kitchen and providing reusable containers instead. And it’s hitching a ride on Snowbird’s RIDE app, which connects skiers with others looking to carpool.

2. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

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Aspen Snowmass has been implementing sustainability initiatives for more than 20 years.

Rein Ketelaars

The Aspen Skiing Company, which is behind the ever-popular Aspen Snowmass Resort, has been leading the charge in sustainability efforts since 1997, when it established the Environment Foundation. The partially employee-funded foundation (half of their employees donate a few bucks per paycheck, which the Aspen Community Foundation and Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund then match) has granted $3.3 million to many area conservation non-profits. But the ski area isn’t just in the business of paying it forward. In 2004, it installed a first-in-industry solar array, and it’s also invested in alternative energy by building the Elk Creek Coal Mine Methane Plant, which captures waste methane vented from the coal mine to generate clean electricity. Resort reps are constant fixtures in Washington, D.C., to lobby for climate legislation, and it’s also asking customers to join in advocacy efforts with the newly launched Give a Flake campaign, which harnesses the power of social media to call for legislators to protect the planet.

3. Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Like many ski areas, Deer Valley Resort offers staff and visitor shuttles to cut back on carbon emissions from driving around the ski area. However, it goes far beyond that with several other initiatives. The resort reduces its energy use through LED lighting and high-efficiency snowmaking guns. It composts food waste through Wild Harvest Farm, out of Peoa, Utah; since beginning the program in May 2018, they’ve diverted 63,275 pounds of food from the landfill. In addition to compostable take-out containers and a recycling program, the resort is hopping on the anti-straw bandwagon and going straw free. (Paper straws will still be available at guests’ requests.)

4. Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah

This ski area isn’t just hopping on the bunny slopes of sustainability: Environmental stewardship has been part of its ethos since its founding in 1969, backed by movie star founder Robert Redford’s longstanding commitment to preservation and conservation. With that in mind, conservation easements are Sundance’s bedrock. The Sundance Preserve has protective covenants covering 3,343 acres of land, which pairs with the Redford Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, adding another 860 acres of protected land. Beyond that, Sundance purchases renewable energy credit to offset all of its energy use; other initiatives include low VOC paint, a robust recycling program, all-natural cleaning products, and eco-friendly amenities like shampoo. The resort also blends its environmental and artistic pursuits with a unique glass recycling program. Because glass recycling in Utah is challenging, the glass from its farm-to-table restaurant (think: wine bottles) are taken to its glass works kiln where the glass is turned into a decorative piece of art or housewares to be used in the restaurant again.

5. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

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Taos Ski Valley has earned rare recognition among ski resorts as an environmental steward.

Paul Sableman

Taos Ski Valley made headlines as the first ski area in the world (and only, at the time of this writing) to achieve B Corp certification. That designation may seem like legalese, but it recognizes the ski area’s environmental stewardship and accountability. Taos Ski Valley’s newest hotel, The Blake, earned LEED Certification, an acknowledgment of its sustainability bona fides from energy efficiency to water bottle filling stations that cut single-use plastics mountain-wide. The hotel restaurant has a unique recycling program: wine bottles are donated to Earthship Biotecture, a local green building company for use in their sustainable buildings. With the launch of the ski area’s new airline, TaosAir, its investing in a carbon offset program to neutralize the impact of jet travel. It has also restored the Rio Hondo riverfront within the valley and partnered with The Nature Conservancy on broader conservation efforts.

6. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California

As of early December 2018, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will be on 100 percent renewable energy. With that change, the ski area anticipates reducing its total annual carbon footprint by half. It’s upping the ante by quadrupling the size of its existing “Protect Our Winters” parking area (aka premium parking for those who carpool) to encourage more drivers to travel together. It’s also transitioning to stone paper trail maps. What difference can that make? The ski area anticipates these waterproof and tear-resistant maps will last longer, saving 170 trees and 136,000 gallons of water.

7. Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming

One of the top ski areas in North America, Grand Targhee has installed energy-saving LED fixtures and taken eco-friendly measures in its lodge with bathroom sensor lights, low-flow toilets, and recycling measures—that latter to the tune of some 25 tons a year. Its employee-funded (and matched) foundation has awarded $94,000 in grants to environmental projects in the last decade.

8. Smugglers’ Notch Family Resort, Vermont

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Smugglers’ Notch boasts several notable environmentally-friendly programs.

Robbie Shade

This cozy resort engages in wildlife and habitat protection, tracking the Bicknell’s thrush and black bear to ensure they have ample habitat and corridors. In 1999, Smugglers Notch integrated “The Living Machine” to enhance its wastewater treatment (the machine uses biological processes and cut out the need for chemicals). It also uses energy efficient appliances within the resort communities and offers curb-side pick-up for recycling throughout the development.

9. Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Massachusetts

This relatively small mountain aims high with its eco-friendly measures. It was the first ski area in North America to install a wind turbine, named Zephyr, which provides between a third and half of the resort’s electrical needs. By partnering on a solar array starting in 2015, Jiminy Peak expended its renewable energy use.

10. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Utah

In addition to initiatives like promoting ride-sharing, Snowbird reduces carbon footprint by exploring alternative fuel options for its snow cats and providing electric vehicle charging stations for guests. It became an idle-free resort in 2016, which decreases carbon emissions and helps keep those bluebird skies blue. Its co-generation power facility produces half of the resort’s power, and exhaust from that plant is converted to steam and piped through the resort to heat The Cliff Lodge’s rooms, pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces.

Written by Ashley M. Biggers for Matcha in partnership with RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Devin Stein

D•CURVE Snowboard Goggles

D Curve women’s snowboard goggles pink and teal.

D•CURVE Women’s Snowboard Goggles

I wanted to not like these goggles. Shallow, I know, as the reasons for not wanting to like them were… the name—D Curve. And the branding—not my jam. See? Shallow. But not really—I’m someone who embraces fashion and style as a means of expression (of the self, of the body, of politics and voice and femme-ness) and resistance.

Also, however superficial, names and branding are how we gravitate towards or repel from a known quantity. How we come to self-identify and align with a thing, at least initially. I mean, chances are D Curve is not all about the name Eat Gold Snow, nor our photo shoot with Lisa Left Eye (Lisa’s the sweet chicken here, and she had been missing her left eye for years… until she grew it back). And that’s fine. Celebrating our differences is important.

BUT. And this is a huge but. Like a “180 degree turnaround but’“ in which I say: I was wrong and/or I stand corrected. The women’s snowboard goggles I tested out from D Curve were phenomenal. I couldn’t not like them.

The Scoop On These High Quality Women’s Snowboard Goggles From D•CURVE

I love it when I assume one thing, and then come to experience a different story. It’s like when you judge the man in the MAGA hat standing in line at the DMV, and then actually start a human conversation with him and come to find out that, indeed, he is a real person with a heart and feelings and thoughts. And he practices watercolor in the evenings after laboring on the farm all day. Neither of you have to agree with one another’s politics in order to acknowledge that you’re both alive, both valid, both wading through this weird thing called life.

Basically, I judged these high quality women’s snowboard goggles, hard, before ever getting to know them. And I am very happy to have had my doubts squashed and my assumptions dismantled. No, the branding still isn’t for me. But, I don’t care. Having snowboard goggles that I can see crisply and clearly out of, without peripheral hindrance or fogging or any of the other drawbacks usually associated with snowboard goggles, is more than fine by me.

With UV+ eye protection (Nastek P3 lens technology that protects against UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light), antimicrobial foam that’s (holy shit) removable, washable, reusable and replaceable, and pricing that’s not trying to crush you, D Curve ‘s snowboard goggles for women are very worth it. Ever have a pair of snowboard goggles long enough to where the foam either starts disintegrating or leaving your skin feeling dirty after every wear? Yeah, somehow D Curve is offering washable, replaceable foam. Which is almost unheard of. Nice work, DC.

D Curve Nuptse 133 women’s snowboard goggles

A Little More About D•CURVE & Their Women’s Snowboard Goggle Lineup

While Andrew, the owner of D Curve, sent Gold Snow four sets of women’s snowboard goggles to test run, I was most drawn to the pink and teal versions of the Nuptse 133. Their minimalist frames and color-ways are aesthetically closer to the styles I most like in other goggle brands, and they fit oh so nicely on the face. A lot better than the big-name goggles I’ve ridden over the years. And with my Giro Ledge MIPS snowboard helmet, there was no gaper gap. In fact, there were no gaps at all. The face/foam/frame relationship was seamless.

Clarity and line of sight were also unexpectedly crystalline and unrestricted. I could see lines through the trees, and look down and up, without the frame a constant reminder my peripheral vision. I even cried in these goggles, and they stayed as clear as the night sky full of stars in winter. Once I stopped crying that is.

A final note on the maker and the name of these women’s snowboard goggles.

Except for a few email exchanges, I do not personally know Andrew, the owner of D Curve. I did, however, appreciate his ability to humor me, even joke a little, when I inquired about the name. Here’s what he has to say about the meaning behind D Curve:

  • It’s where 2 leading edges intersect on an airplane wing. (Aeronautics, cool)
  • It refers to the double-lens curve on our signature goggles, which creates a thermal barrier that reduces fogging and enhances your peripheral view. (The double curve is real, folx! Like a double rainbow I felt it!)
  • It’s slang for parts of the human anatomy. (THIS is where my mind went. And still goes. Oh, well.)
D Curve women’s snowboard goggles

By Laura Winberry

Colorado has 53 mountains over 14,000 feet with an additional five summits that make most peakbaggers’ 14ers rosters (the rule is that mountain tops must have 300 vertical feet of prominence between neighboring summits). While they are all scenic, some are less-than-wonderful to scale: rotten rock, tedious boulder fields, and private land ownership issues make some of the Colorado's highest peaks a chore.

So when it comes to selecting the best 14ers to ascend, the journey is every bit as important as the destination. These ten summits range from simple hill walks to thrillingly exposed class 4 scrambles and they embody some of the most enjoyable, challenging mountain adventures in Colorado.

1. Mount Elbert – ** 14,433 feet – Class 2**

From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.
From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.

Michael W. Murphy

Colorado’s highest summit is a grandfatherly gentle giant, at least by Rocky Mountains standards. Elbert’s large, rounded dome is easily accessed by several trails, all of which begin in vanilla-scented pine forests and emerge from treeline with stunning views of the Sawatch Range. That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park — there’s a matter of 4,400 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles to deal with — but the paths are well maintained and easy to follow. Reach the top and you’ll be in the heart of the highest mountain range in the lower 48 US states.

2. Capitol Peak – ** 14,130 feet – Class 4**

The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.
The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.

James Dziezynski

Amongst the most challenging 14ers, Capitol is tough for the right reasons — solid rock, heart-in-your-throat exposure and tricky but fair route finding. It’s an 18 mile round trip to complete this epic journey — and that’s part of the joy. A long approach along Capitol Creek passes through gorgeous aspen forests and ends at Capitol Lake, where the real work begins. After navigating a steep pass, honest class 4 rock makes for a spectacular path to the summit, including the notorious knife edge traverse. Savvy climbers know the top is only the half-way point — the way down is just as fun and demanding as the ascent.

3. San Luis Peak –** 14,014 feet – Class 2**

On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.
On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.

James Dziezynski

San Luis Peak is located in a remote portion of the San Juan Mountains near the town of Gunnison, Colorado — almost smack dab in the middle of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Its isolation is part of its charm. A summer venture to San Luis follows several peaceful creeks and the area is regularly festooned with a vibrant field of wildflowers. Views are expansive throughout the adventure and as the alpine grasses yield to the rocky terrain of the summit block, the trail remains in tact and easy to navigate. The summit views are pristine, rolling and nearly absent of any man-made landmarks.

4. Crestone Needle – ** 14,197 feet – Class 3**

Crestone needle Colorado
Scrambling on Crestone Needle.

James Dziezynski

Crestone Needle is a stunning mountain to behold and a vexing peak to navigate. Despite sporting a well-worn trail to its upper reaches, the rocky gullies that offer passage to the summit are easily confused. However, the knobby stones that make up the hide of the peak are impressively solid, and the standard scramble to the top is arguably the best in the state. Vigilant navigation will unlock the secrets of the Needle’s imposing passage — one nearly all climbers brag about after the experience.

5. Longs Peak – ** 14,255 feet – Class 3**

Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.
Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.

James Dziezynski

Longs is far and away the most popular difficult 14er — most climbers would put it around the 10th most challenging summit on the list. Yes, there will be crowds and only 50% of those who attempt Longs make its broad, flat summit. But the adventure of this Front Range classic is without peer. After a long 5.5-mile approach, hikers go through the magical Keyhole rock feature and enter a new world of dark rock bands, steep scrambles, narrow ledges and a wild crawl to the final summit. Despite over 14 miles on the round trip standard route, most people will attempt this burly mountain in a single day.

6. Blanca Peak – ** 14,345 feet – Class 2**

Blanca Peak.
Blanca Peak.

pdsphill

A trip to Blanca Peak is as much about the approach as it is the actual peak. At the foot of this impressive massif are the great dunes of Sand Dunes National Park (a feature easily admired from the summit on a clear day). Hikers must travel through a wonderful shift of eco-systems, starting with desert-like tundra all the way to lush, alpine lakes. A rocky, rugged trail to the top brings hikers to the ultimate view of all the landscapes they have traversed along the way — not to mention contrasting vistas of gentle farmland and the rugged summits of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

7. Windom Peak – ** 14,082 feet – Class 2**

The summit blocks on Windom Peak.
The summit blocks on Windom Peak.

James Dziezynski

Windom is one of a trio of officially ranked 14ers (and one unofficial summit, North Eolus) in Chicago Basin. Its neighboring 14ers — Sunlight Peak and Eolus Peak — are class 4 and 3 ascents respectively, so modest Windom sits alone as the “everyman” mountain in the area. What makes this one a true classic is the access — most often done by the coal-powered train that runs along the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Midway through the adventure, hikers disembark into the mountain-goat friendly San Juan mountains. Windom itself is a steep climb, accented by blocky boulders and easy scrambles. While easier than its counterparts, it may have the best views and the most enjoyable route to the top.

8. Uncompahgre Peak – ** 14,309 feet – Class 2**

Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.
Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.

James Dziezynski

Uncompahgre’s famous sinking-ship profile is flanked by rolling fields of deep green grass and patches of colorful wild flowers. Because it is located in the San Juan range, it tends to get more rain than northern and central peaks, meaning it is awash in color. Trails to the summit travel along long, expansive meadows and fun, scrambly corridors. Atop the peak, nearby 14er Wetterhorn Peak cuts a crooked profile and southwestern hues of yellow, bronze and orange stripe the landscape in amazing relief.

9. Pyramid Peak – ** 14,018 feet – Class 3/4**

Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak.
Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak. James Dziezynski

Pyramid Peak may not be as scenic from a distance as its neighbors, the iconic, beautiful Maroon Bells , but up close it’s quite a treat. Whereas the twin summits of North and South Maroon peaks are made up of crumbly, unreliable rock, Pyramid is made of slightly sterner stuff. The upshot is a solid scramble that is less unpredictable and stays along a path that minimizes exposure (though there are a few spots that will get your attention). Handholds and footholds are always available and the summit is often shared with resident mountain goats, who make scaling the cliffs of Pyramid Peak seem way too easy.

10. Huron Peak – ** 14,003 feet – Class 2**

Descending Huron Peak.
Descending Huron Peak.

James Dziezynski

The final 14er in this list is cut from the classic, mountainous contour of the Rockies — a high, triangular peak that juts into the clouds. Huron has one of the best trails to any summit in the state. As it runs through pine forests and into broad, alpine meadows, views of nearby Sawatch Peaks and Hope Pass are pure Colorado. In the autumn, the colors in this area are a photographer’s dream. The last section of the trail to the top has a few easy scrambles that politely lead climbers away from from the drafty edges of the peak. Summit views are of course glorious, especially for those ambitious enough to catch a sunrise or sunset from the apex of Huron Peak.

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by James Dziezynski

A healthy body is one of the most valuable assets you can have. With proper exercise and nutrition, you can wake up every day feeling more vibrant than ever before. While maintaining your health can be easy, getting started is much more challenging. If you want to have the body you always dreamed of, make sure you avoid these 5 common excuses.

I Don’t Have Time for Exercise

When you’re looking into a fitness program, you’ll see plenty of people that dedicate hours to the gym every day. But there is a big difference between being a body builder and making a few healthy changes to your lifestyle. Even though it’s hard to balance your family, your career, and your personal time, everyone can find the time to squeeze in a little workout into their day. All it takes is a very small change in your lifestyle such as walking to work or going for a twenty-minute run. While this won’t take much extra time, you’ll surely notice a major difference.

I Don’t Know How to do The Workouts

There is no doubt that some of the exercises take the time to learn the proper form and procedure. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get started today. There are plenty of fitness guides that give you step by step directions on how to properly complete a workout. There are so many resources available, that not knowing where to get started is a poor excuse.

Healthy Food is Too Expensive

Walking through the aisles of Whole Foods can make you feel as if healthy eating is a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. But you don’t have to eat only locally sourced organic foods to make a healthy change in your diet. Getting the nutrients your body needs can actually be much more inexpensive than eating pre-made, processed foods. When you shop carefully, eating well can cost the same as buying junk food, and you’ll save plenty of money on healthcare in the future.

I Don’t Have the Right Body Type

Sure, not everyone can look like a supermodel. But that doesn’t mean that health is out of your reach. No matter what type of body you have, you can always strive to be healthier. There are hundreds of examples of people who have gone from severely overweight to slim and happy in as little as a few years. The most important thing is to take that first step, and you’ll find that everything else comes naturally.

Results Take Too Long

The important thing here is to decide what you consider results. When many people first start working out, they don’t see themselves losing weight right away. But muscle weighs more than fat. Although the numbers on their scales stay the same, they’re actually losing a lot of fat while getting stronger and healthier. When you first start to make healthy choices, you can start feeling better within a week. Start with small goals. Try your new lifestyle for a day. Then two days. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Djim Loic

A long distance hiking path is typically defined as anything that takes longer than one or two days to complete. Well, what if we took that idea one (to five million) steps further and proposed a list of 10 of the world’s most epic long distance backpacking trips longer than 500-miles? Sure, we’d leave off quite a few amazing hikes across the globe, but we’d be left with a list of some of the most insanely beautiful, geographically intoxicating, culturally stimulating, and physically demanding treks this planet has to offer.

Note: We’re not responsible for any ensuing desire for adventure or debilitating sense of wanderlust.

1. Appalachian Trail

First, one that you’ve all probably heard of: the Appalachian Trail. The AT is a classic American walk in the woods, stretching 2,185 miles from lowly old Springer Mountain in Georgia to the grandiose summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Along the way, hikers pass through 14 states, 8 National Forests, 2 National Parks, and countless rural resupply points. This ancient mountain range, once the size of the Himalayas, has since been weathered and whittled down over time. But hiking the entire route is still equivalent to summiting Everest 16 times; so don’t underestimate this sleeping giant.

2. Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 miles of diverse and epic hiking, which begins in the desert and follows the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges through California, Oregon, and Washington. It passes through some of this country’s most spectacular parks and wilderness areas, including Yosemite, John Muir, Crater Lake, and Goat Rocks. The trail itself is graded for horses, meaning that hikers can typically bag high mileage days. But lack of water and infrequent resupply points pose their own set of inherent challenges.

3. Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is a transcontinental route, which stretches 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the craggy spine of the Rocky Mountains. While technically considered only about 70% complete, there are still a handful of hearty adventurers who set out each year to conquer what many consider to be the toughest leg of the US Hiking Triple Crown (the other two legs being the AT and the PCT). The CDT is a rugged trek with high elevations, exposure to the elements, and wildlife hazards, yet the wild western landscapes are truly jaw dropping.

4. Greater Patagonian Trail

This trail is so underdeveloped, isolated, rigorous, and remote that only a few hikers have ever attempted it, never mind completed it. Requiring just as much orienteering, map reading, and logistical planning as actual physical endurance and hiking, this roughly 800 mile route, comprised of horse trails, local paths, country roads, and even pack-raft river sections, traverses the Patagonian Andes along the border of Chile and Argentina. It is an unofficial route in its early infancy, but the pristine natural beauty of this region will surely attract intrepid backpackers in the years to come.

5. Grand Italian Trail

For a whopping 3,832 miles, the Sentiero Italia (or Grand Italian Trail) extends from the Northeastern port town of Trieste, into the Alps, and all the way down the Apennine spine of the Italian peninsula, before island hopping to Sicily and then Sardinia. The subalpine scenery along much of this route is simply spectacular, featuring jagged peaks, glacial tarns, and gouged out valleys. Add to that the bonus of quaint hamlets and ancient Roman history, and you’ve got yourself a bella formula. Oh, and of course, carbo-loading will never be a problem.

6. Wales Coast Path

Officially established in 2012 as the world’s only footpath to cover an entire country’s coastline, the Wales Coast Path is an 870-mile trek that combines some of the UK’s most romantic aspects. As it snakes its way up the shore, along coastal cliffs and verdant hillsides, past medieval castles, and through sleepy seaside towns, hikers get to experience the magic of this area in a truly intimate way. Just imagine wrapping up a rain-soaked 20-mile day with a bowl of warm lamb stew and a porter at a small local pub.

7. Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail

One of the only officially documented sections of the proposed Great Himalaya Trail, the GHT High Route in Nepal is a roughly 1050 mile trek scaling the world’s highest peaks from the eastern edge of the country to the western border with Tibet. Hiking this trail is a demanding adventure requiring mountaineering experience and roughly five months of time, but the rewards of passing through rarely visited villages, reaching some of the planet’s highest altitudes, and sleeping under unfathomably starry skies makes it an unforgettable experience.

8. Great Wall of China

Didn’t expect this one, did you? Sure, the Great Wall of China has sections that are jam-packed with khaki-clad tourists, but this celebrated structure also has some very remote sections with rarely seen beauty, including deserts, mountains, bamboo forests, and more. Government restrictions, time requirements, extreme weather conditions, and the sheer enormity of this 5,500-mile trek across China makes a thru-hike an extremely obstacle-laden adventure, but if the Mongols and other nomadic tribes could overcome their barrier to entry, so can you.

9. Tokai Nature Trail

Japan is increasingly becoming a world-class place to recreate. With its mountainous terrain, powder-packed ski destinations, and unprecedented biodiversity, it’s only natural that there should be a long distance trail. And the Tokai Nature Trail fits the bill. Running 1,054 miles from Tokyo to Osaka, this generally level and easy footpath takes hikers past iconic Mt. Fuji, through Imperial gardens with cherry blossoms and Japanese maples, and along fertile hillsides, lush wetlands, and hollowed out river canyons.

10. Te Araroa

Ah, the Te Araroa Trail (Maori for the Long Pathway). Obviously, any long distance footpath that’s located in New Zealand is always going to make the list — especially one that so fully encompasses the diverse natural beauty of both islands. Beginning at Cape Reinga in the north and winding 1,864 miles to Stirling Point in the south, this trail almost has too much to savor. Beaches lined with seals and penguins, impossibly lush rainforests, frequently active volcanoes, precipitous mountains, and electric blue glacial lakes. To coin a local Kiwi phrase, this trail is truly “Sweet As!”

Written by Ry Glover for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by David Evans

Skywalker Couloir

Mid- to late spring is prime time for Colorado’s snowy couloirs (“couloir” is a term of French origin that refers to the deep, often steep gullies that cut into a mountain). While avalanche danger isn’t completely gone, the warmer conditions and prolonged sun exposure in spring stabilizes snow fields, making them much less likely to slide. When conditions are at their best, climbers are treated to literally thousands of vertical feet of accommodating snow, perfect for kicking in crampons, thus creating a personal staircase to the summit. And for lower-angle couloirs, the heat of the afternoon sun can soften conditions enough to enjoy an exciting glissade (sliding on your butt) down the length of the gully.

If the prospect of challenging these ephemeral snow lines appeals to you, read on to learn how to get started in this exciting method of scaling the mountains.

1. Take a class on snow climbing.

Dead Dog Couloir Torreys Peak
A climber nearing the end of the Dead Dog Couloir on Torreys Peak.

James Dziezynski

Not to sound like a crummy commercial, but solid knowledge is a critical part of snow climbing. Doing it right will improve your decision-making and help keep you safer in the process. Despite being a rather straightforward sport, the gear, techniques, and ability to read snow are all important aspects of a successful adventure. Both the Colorado Mountain School and Colorado Mountain Club offer excellent, affordable classes. Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills remains the benchmark publication for those looking to read up on mountaineering skills.

2. Master the self-arrest.

Using an ice axe (more on those below) to stop a fall is the single most important skill to master for climbing snow couloirs. Stopping a slide with confidence will give climbers an edge in nearly every terrain and situation. Make sure you are using the correct hand position so that you can roll over into the snow and drive the pick in while kicking your feet. Sounds easy? Try it when you are sliding headfirst on your back with a heavy pack or desperately trying to to catch a crampon spike—or worst of all, trying to stop on hard snow or ice. Practice makes perfect: St. Marys Glacier has a year-round snowfield that is a great place to practice self arresting.

3. Start very early.

Snow couloirs are not for the lazy. You should plan to be at the base of your gully before sunrise, which often means either camping out or starting your hike in pre-dawn (also known as the “alpine start”). Early morning snow tends to be firm and consistent, whereas mid-morning and afternoon snow can turn into a slushy mess. Add to that the inevitable thunderstorms that brew daily in the mountains after noon, and you have all the more reason to get out early.

4. Know the forecast.

When aiming for a snow climb, you’ll need to know the normal forecast conditions: rain, lightning, and snow. With snow climbs, however, you want to pay attention to the overnight lows to gauge how well consolidated the morning snow will be, as well as wind conditions. Winds can form dangerous cornices that can break into a couloir as well as amplify avalanche conditions (which are still a slight but possible danger). It’s also good to factor the forecast into your descent. Some couloirs you head back down, while other mountains offer easy walk-offs.

5. Learn to place gear.

Not all snow climbs require ropes and protection, especially those at a slope of 40 degrees or less. But steeper climbs, mixed terrain, and hard snow can all warrant placing protective pieces and using a rope. Some climbs will have placements for traditional rock climbing gear, but in many cases you’ll be placing snow pickets and snow flukes, which are buried in the snow. Besides gear, it’s also worth knowing how to build a safe snow bollard, which is a natural anchor made by looping a rope around a round of carved-out snow.

6. Get comfortable with your crampons.

Approaching the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva.  
Approaching the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva.

James Dziezynski

Crampons are essential to maintaining good grip in the snow, and let’s face it: Walking around with sharp metal spikes on your feet is a pretty cool feeling. But crampons are also good at shredding your pants and getting caught and twisting your legs in all sorts of unfortunate angles. And more than one climber has kicked a front point directly into the rope. Learning to use your crampons is key to efficient climbing and this includes being able to put them on and take them off without taking too long—the last place you want to be fumbling with metal spikes is when a lightning storm is closing in.

7. Glissade like a pro.

Not all snow climbs are suited for glissading but when they are, it’s a ton of fun. Using your ice axe as a rudder, a controlled slide can make hundreds of feet of descent go by in seconds. Make sure the slope isn’t too steep, there is a safe run out, and you (and your partners) are in control. Glissading is also a great reason to buy snow pants with a reinforced butt, as spring corn snow can shred nylon (and your skin) with ease.

8. Sometimes, no rope is better.

As mentioned, lesser-angle couloirs can be safer and quicker without a rope. While climbers should be proficient with ropes, it’s also good to know when to leave them in your pack and head up unencumbered. The best conditions for no rope climbing, besides low angle slopes, are soft snow that is easy to self arrest in or shorter, less demanding couloirs.

9. Know the difference between axes.

Snow axes aren’t to be confused with ice axes. Ice axes are shorter, usually curved tools that are used in technical, vertical ice climbing. Snow axes are designed for travel on snow, across glaciers, and couloir climbs—in other words, all-around mountaineering. The length and weight of your snow axe is important (you can learn more about axes here ). One common mistake in Colorado is purchasing a snow axe of the correct length that is superlight or has a small pick and adze. While these axes are good in some applications, they can be too light and flimsy to really bite into snow during a self-arrest. Consider purchasing a snow axe that is burly enough to really grip in a pinch.

10. Pick a good place to start.

An inviting line on the Goatfinger Couloir on Mount Edwards.  
An inviting line on the Goatfinger Couloir on Mount Edwards.

James Dziezynski

One of the best books for snow climbs is Dave Cooper’s Colorado Snow Climbs . If you’re looking for some of the better beginner routes (which are still serious undertakings), consider the Queen’s Way Couloir on Apache Peak (Indian Peaks), the Crooked Couloir on Mount Audubon (Indian Peaks), Edwardian Couloir on Mount Edwards (Front Range), or Lost Rat Couloir on Grays Peak (Front Range). For intermediate climbs, consider the Dragon’s Tail on Flattop Mountain (Rocky Mountain National Park, Front Range), Skywalker Couloir on South Arapahoe Peak (Indian Peaks), Dead Dog on Torreys Peak (Front Range), or the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva (Indian Peaks).

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by James Dziezynski

Columbine, by D•CURVE Optics

We’re fortunate to live in a small mountain town that boasts awesome hiking trails out our back door, and a 7-mile paved trail along the river that’s perfect for a mellow bike ride. So it’s not unusual for my husband and me to spend time in both places — on the same day.

I’m somewhat of a minimalist, so I look for outdoor gear that can take me seamlessly from one activity to the next. The good (and bad) news is that there’s a lot to choose from these days. To make it easier, I’ve come up with 3 cross-over essentials, whether I’m in my hiking boots or on my bicycle. Here they are:

1. Healthy snacks

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Healthy snacks aren’t gear.” But if you’re prone to low-blood sugar like I am, you don’t underestimate the importance of having some noshing goodies on hand. There are a lot of energy food and drinks branded separately for cyclists and for hikers. But I’ve found that my essential healthy snacks for both activities can be broken down into to what I like to eat, what’s easy to carry in my pack (see #2), and what won’t melt in the hot sun. My current go-to snacks include raw almonds, dried apricots, and BoBo’s oat bars.

2. Hydration pack

In addition to being preoccupied by food, I am a water-drinking junkie. So it’s super important to make sure I have enough of the precious liquid close at hand during all my outdoor activities. Although my bicycle is equipped with a couple of water bottle cages, I prefer using a small backpack with a bladder. It’s much easier to drink from, plus it gives me a place to store the ever-important snacks (see #1). As for the cross-over piece, a good hydration pack will work just as well for a short day hike. I really love my small hydration pack from Osprey.

3. Sunglasses

No matter the activity, you can’t beat a good pair of shades. It can be hard to choose the right ones because there are so many options, but I have a checklist here, too. First, I prefer polarized sunglasses because of the reduced glare and enhanced visibility they provide. Next, I look for a style that will sit comfortably below my brimmed bicycle helmet and the various ball caps I wear hiking. And finally, I like a pair that is stylish enough to wear post-hiking or biking. My current faves are the Columbine from D·CURVE Optics because they fit all three criteria.

What outdoor activities do you participate in and what’s your favorite cross-over gear? We’d love to know. Please share your thoughts and comments below.