Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

blue q bottlesA writer friend, Chris, recently saw our Blue Q bottles and had to have one.  I asked her to use it for awhile and write up her opinion.

“Well, ask and you shall receive (sort of). I love Klean Kanteens, but being a finicky consumer, wished that they had more…. pizzaz. Well, now they (sort of) do. Granted, these bottles are NOT Klean Kanteen at all. In fact, they are made by a different company all together. BUT they fit KK lids, so essentially they are KK-esque (but not in different sizes) with ‘tude.

The designs are gorgeous; colorful, exciting, visually pleasing and they have just a pinch of sauciness (but you can opt for the saucy-free versions too)! They hold 20 oz of your favorite beverage and travel well, of course.  Never has being BPA-free been so appealing! Bye-bye boring, hello sassy!”

If you have to have a sassyBlue Q bottle yourself, hop over to the store.  They’re only $17.50 each.

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…it might still work!

Our friend Jess of Jess’ Bee Natural lip balms came over the other day.  She was carrying the most dented Klean Kanteen bottle we had ever seen.

one dented bottle

one dented bottle

Amazingly the mouthpiece and top were still perfectly usable.  The story goes that Jess’ boyfriend was hunting morels and left the water bottle on top of a truck.  It fell off and was run over before anyone figured out what was going on.  They picked it up and found it to be still water tight!

from this side you can hardly tell

from this side you can hardly tell

So while we wouldn’t recommend smashing your stainless steel bottle with a vehicle, we are now even more confident in the durability of the Klean Kanteen.

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The folks at Klean Kanteen pointed out their bottles are included in Time magazine’s Top 5 Eco-friendly Water Bottles.  The reviewer says “This was my favorite.”  We agree!

pink 12 oz with sports top $16.55

pink 12 oz with sports top $16.55

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One of many reasons to choose a metal water bottle is durability.  All our BPA free bottle manufacturers make claims about durability.  But how well do they hold up?

Each time we start carrying a new line, we choose a bottle to subject to daily use for product testing.  These bottles accompany us on trips in the car, on the bike, and abroad.  We do not intentionally drop or scrape the bottles, but also do not intentionally protect them with a carrier.

Read our comments below on bottles we used daily for 6 months or more.

The SIGG bottle loses the wear and tear test.  The aluminum material dents and scratches easily. Even though this is my daughter’s bottle, I admit to dropping this bottle once with the resulting dent on lamb’s belly:

dents on sigg bottle

dents on sigg bottle

More worrisome is that the lining around the rim and paint where the screw tops is scratched off from all our tested SIGG bottles.  The lining is there to ensure taste neutrality, and while we haven’t noticed a taste difference, it is troubling that it scrapes off so easily.

paint and liner scratches on SIGG

paint and liner scratches on SIGG

Finally, we notice significant wear on the active bottle top.  The etches here collect dirt and can scratch lips too.

bite marks on SIGG active top

bite marks on SIGG active top

Klean Kanteen and Nathan Sports stainless steel bottles have held up much better.  With over six months of daily use, there are no dents on our Klean Kanteens or Nathan bottle.  The Klean Kanteens have some hairline scratches that are barely visible on the stainless surface.

Klean Kanteen surface after 10 months

Klean Kanteen surface after 10 months

The paint on the Nathan bottle is worn where it rubs on the bike water bottle cage.  This bottle is used daily at home and on frequent cycling trips.  The steel surface revealed underneath has proven to be stainless.

Nathan Sports bottle wear

Nathan Sports bottle wear

The tops on both Klean Kanteen and Nathan show little to no wear.  Interiors are like-new as well.

(We will update this test when we have used Guyot Designs and EarthLust bottles for six months.)

How are your bottles holding up?

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The fashion and style guide at New York Times featured fleece and wool gear today.

About the Ibex Shak, the review says ““Gorgeous!” is how Ms. Chism described this pure merino wool hoody. “I felt very posh in it.”…The wool was “breathable and very thin” but cozy. She was surprised at how soft and “not itchy” it was. Ms. Chism also laundered the top in her washing machine, and then placed it flat to dry, per its care instructions. It dried “beautifully,” she said, and “didn’t wrinkle or stink like wet wool.””

Buy a women’s or men’s Shak at BayingHound.com and get free shipping with code freeship50.

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A review of the Nathan Designs bottle from our friend Chris of the Quintessential Quill:

“Nathan, oh Nathan, how do I love ye! Let me count the ways!

  1. Nice wide mouth to put in ice;

  2. Great designs; stylish and nice;

  3. A handy straw; flip up for a sip;

  4. And hook it to your belt with a handy clip!

Bad poetry aside, I love, love, love this stylish bottle. It holds ample amounts of water to see you through an outing; it has an awesome flip straw that lets you drink your fill without tipping the bottle. Its wide mouth lets you clean it easily, as well as add ice to keep your drink cold. The stainless steel means no leaching of harmful chemicals and the designs give it the extra kick that Klean Kanteen is lacking.

Best of all? The clip, oh the clip! Ever overload yourself and need an extra hand to carry the water out to the car? Well, trouble no more! Clip your bottle to your belt, backpack, diaper bag, purse…it can clip to almost anything.

This bottle is all-around awesome. It has replaced my Siggs (sorry Sigg) and is used more than my Klean Kanteen, though it is a toss up there. The Klean Kanteen does come in different sizes; something that Nathan might want to consider. If that happens, it will be only Nathan’s for me!”

BPA free stainless steel Nathan bottles hold 24 ounces and are available for $24.55 from our store in 4 designs and 1 solid.

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We asked our friend Chris Jonard of the the Quintessential Quill to help us cover our most frequently asked question: Should I get a Kleen Kanteen or a SIGG?

Here is Chris’ review:

With all the media coverage about BPA and its potential hazards, as well as the massive waste generated by disposable water bottles, getting a reusable water bottle makes sense. There are several options out there, but which one works the best?

Reusable plastic bottles are an option, but for those that want to be BPA free, plastic is kind of scary right now. This leads to metal water bottles. The top contenders are SIGG and Klean Kanteen. In a personal trial between the two, the clean winner came out to be Kleen Kanteen for a variety of reasons.

First, let’s talk SIGG. The SIGG bottles have different designs on them, many of which are just too cool for words. There are some seriously beautiful and extremely cute bottles out there. But judge not a book by its cover, as they say, for looks are not everything. I found that with everyday use, the SIGGs dent extremely easily. In fact, my first SIGG dented before it was even used! However, that is cosmetic and can be overlooked—though for the price one would think they would be a bit sturdier. I do have a friend, though, who says the liner on the inside has cracked due to a particularly deep dent. This however, has not been my experience (yet?) Also, the lids leak—thanks to a VERY determined toddler! Overall, I just am not sold on these, which is sad because, as I mentioned before, they are beautiful!

Kleen Kanteen has sleek lines that make them attractive, though not nearly as pretty as SIGG. However, rugged use with my KKs has yet to dent them at all. They are much sturdier (and a bit heavier) and the sports lid, so far, has been leak free. Oh! Another WONDERFUL thing about the KKs is that the mouth of the bottle is wide, so you can fit in a regular cleaning brush to clean it. The SIGG needs a special brush to get in there to scrub. Also, you can easily put regular ice in the KKs. My ONE complaint about the KKs is they are kind of boring compared to SIGG design-wise, but that is a minor complaint. They have spiced things up a bit by adding colors—I can only hope that designs are soon to follow?

So, to sum it up—the SIGGs are eye candy, but for a meaningful, long-lasting relationship, the trusty, sturdy Kleen Kanteens are the way to go.

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When our new fall gear came in, I decided to try the EcoClutch and Shak Full-zip. Both pieces appealed to my laid back eco-chic style. After a few months of use, here are my thoughts:

The EcoClutch is a very small handbag with tons of style for only $29.95. After two and a half years of carrying a big diaper bag, my daughter finally potty trained and I wanted a new purse. I am walking and riding my bike often and carrying just a small amount of “stuff” appeals to me. The EcoClutch fits just what I need for day to day use: a billboard wallet, phone, keys, and lip balm. It’s comfortable to carry over the shoulder and easy to throw in a bigger bag or bike trailer. Here it is at the coffee shop today:

(Sorry about the blurry pic. I still haven’t figured out how to use the camera in this phone well.)

What surprises me about the EcoClutch is how durable it is. I’m not very kind on purses. When I wrote “throw” in the previous paragraph, I was serious: I toss the handbag on the floor, in the bottom of the trailer, wherever. I expected with this kind of abuse that the yoga mat material would scuff or smudge, but it still looks brand new. Or brand re-new, I should say, as the material is in the second cycle of reuse after being a yoga mat scrap.

My other fave from the fall line is the Merino Wool Shak Full-zip Jacket. This is a lightweight merino jersey with a zip down the front and single pocket. Once the weather finally turned cool here in central Ohio, there is rarely a day I don’t have this jacket on for at least part of the day. I wear it around the house, on walks, hikes (above), and bike rides. I am wearing it right now layered over a QuT.

The jacket is breathable and lightweight but still provides considerable warmth. The cut of the jacket is body hugging without being tight. It fits true to my usual size and hasn’t shrunk or stretched through multiple washings. It dries in about 4 hours hung on a line or clothes rack. The small pocket is just enough for a cellphone or keys, all I usually need at the playground or on a walk. In sum, the Shak Full-Zip is so comfortable and designed just right for everyday use. Right now, the full zip is on sale for $119 (women’s) and $123.25 (men’s).

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When first given the Guyot’s “MicroBites” eating utensils, I was skeptical. I mean, it is plastic AND a spork—how good can it be? But one use has made a believer out of me! Although not actually used in a camping context (that will come this weekend), I used the utensils to eat my dinner the other night (gotta love it when hubby has dish duty!). They work a treat! The knife cuts really well—even through steak—and the spork is effective as—well both a spoon and a fork. With the wonderful feature of being able to clip these to a pack, these utensils are seriously all you need to camp or travel—in the wilderness or in the urban jungle. Carry these in your purse or briefcase and no more will you need the flimsy plastic silverware handed out at fast food joints. Not to mention the green aspect—no more tossing away plastic to sit in a landfill for decades. .

All in all, MicroBites are easy to use, work surprisingly well and are very cost effective! A perfect addition for any camper. Or mom. Or business person. Or…well you get the point. Now get some of these!

Review by Chris Jonard, the Quintessential Quill
~When quality is quintessential~
*editing, writing, and research services available*

Microbites specifications:
Material: BPA free nylon polymer
Weight: <1 ounces (22 grams)
Length: 6 inches
Heat safe: to 450 deg. F
Color: tomato red, tangerine orange, slate grey
Cost: $4.95 at Baying Hound

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So what’s all this hype about merino wool? In my outdoor pursuits (cycling, backpacking, general use) I’ve been wearing synthetics for years now. I perspire heavily, and I find cotton to be very uncomfortable, especially in the summer. I’ve been wearing synthetic underwear and shirts as I really like the wicking properties and comfort factor. The downside to synthetics is that they can be the cause of strong odor after heavy exertion. I find this to be true even of the high end products that are supposed to prevent this.

The one exception to my synthetic wardrobe are wool socks. I’ve been wearing merino wool socks from Smartwool since I was in high school with great success. Not only do they resist odor (more on this) but they are incredibly durable and last a good long while even under heavy use. I would estimate their lifespan is 5-10 times that of a comparable cotton product. Rachel has had a similar experience with her wear of wool socks. With this in mind, we decided to find a product made of merino wool that we could carry. After much research, we settled on Ibex Merino Wool clothing.

For product evaluation purposes, I decided to try out an Echo-T from Ibex. This is a basic t-shirt made with retro styling. The Echo-T comes in a choice of base colors with accents on the neck, sleeves and back in a contrasting color. The one I chose is Coconut Shell/Burnt Red.

The fit is very nice on me. While it is not a fitted garment, it is certainly not overly baggy. It has enough length to reach below the waist, and the quality of manufacturing is excellent.

Of course the highlight of the shirt is the material from which it is made. It is made in the USA from 100% New Zealand Merino wool. The weave is very tight, and the fabric has a pleasant natural stretchiness to it when worn. Like synthetics, it wicks perspiration away from the body. It also has very nice temperature regulating properties. So far I have found it comfortable in all temperature ranges I have worn it in (50 F – 75 F). It insulates in the cooler temperatures but breathes very well at the same time for wear in hotter temperatures. Being only April, I have not tried it anywhere very hot yet. I will update when I do, but I expect the same results. The shirt also has all of the anti-odor properties as advertised. Even after heavy perspiration and wear, there is no detectable odor. This fact was verified by family members (lucky volunteers) who happened to be close at hand after a long cycling session. The material wicks very well, but it does take a little longer to dry than a synthetic fabric. However, the thermal properties are unchanged when wet (unlike cotton).

My final opinion is that this is a really well made t-shirt that is comfortable, stylish and attractive for many different settings. Also, I expect that this shirt will last far longer than a comparable garment made of cotton or a synthetic material. The price is higher than you would pay for a regular t-shirt, but not much different from a high end synthetic made by Patagonia, Marmot or any other top end manufacturer. It is a nice way to try Merino wool clothing without the extra expense of the Ibex Qu-T.

Finally, this is a nice sustainable product. Merino wool is harvested from the same sheep year after year. Ibex certifies its suppliers as providing a quality product that also comes from sustainable, environmentally friendly and humane production methods. Synthetics can be made from recycled material, but the majority come from new production of fabric with fossil fuels (crude oil) as the base source.

Check out the Echo-T, I think you will be very satisfied.

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