Sun Bum PRO SPF 50 Sunscreen

As some of you may know, I run a nail polish blog too. I’m kind of a skincare and nail freak, always on the lookout for new, cool products to hoard in my bathroom drawers.

Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for sunscreen for those long hours on the trail. I am deathly terrified of sprouting more moles and getting skin cancer, so a good sunscreen is deeply important to me. Additionally, my skin is an allergic nutjob to nearly everything.

I think I have finally found my holy grail of sunscreen: Sun Bum PRO SPF 50 Sunscreen.

Sun Bum PRO SPF 50 Sunscreen Revoew

This sunscreen is mineral-based, so you don’t get any of those crazy chemicals in regular sunscreen. It’s hypoallergenic, so if your skin is nutso like mine, you won’t get any adverse reactions. Additionally, once you apply it, it sticks in one spot. It doesn’t run into your eyes or melt all over your face. And it doesn’t leave behind any weird, iridescent sheens, either. My boyfriend is kind of weird about helping me apply sunscreen and won’t do it if it gets his hands greasy. This isn’t greasy! And because it’s not greasy, it doesn’t make you break out either.

Other notables? Paraben-free, PABA-free, oil-free, frangrance-free, oxybenzone-free.

The packaging for this is great too! It’s small, round, and ergonomically designed. It fits well in your hand for quick and easy application. Bonus points to the 1.5 oz bottle for being small enough to toss into pants pockets for easy access, and being travel-sized. I’ve been hiking the last couple weeks with this tucked into a side zip pocket. The lid pops up to dispense sunscreen, and slides back down seamlessly. This is not a sunscreen that is going to explode everywhere in your pocket or bag.

The Sun Bum PRO SPF 50 comes in two sizes, 1.5 oz and 3 oz, which retail for $12.99 and $17.99 respectively via the Sun Bum website.

They’ve also got an arsenal of other sunscreen in their product line ranging from lotion to sprays to lip balms and baby products. To check out the full product line, visit this link here. I’m looking forward to eventually picking up the moisturizing sunscreen lotion for summer days.

Hiking Big Ben Loop, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell State Park: Big Ben Loop #winehike

The redwoods are always my favorite place to escape in inclement weather. There’s nothing quite like hiking under the protection of dense branches towering way above, being tickled by little bits of rain, and listening to roaring creeks.

The Big Ben Loop at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a series of trails at the Fall Creek Unit. It’s part of Henry Cowell State Park, but more remote.

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A Quick Look: Western Mountaineering HQ

Western Mountaineering is one of those names that’s synonymous with quality. When I found out that they are based in San Jose, CA! Naturally, I had to come say hi.

I’ve never seen what a sleeping bag factory looked like, or any factory really. Their headquarters are located in a more industrial area of San Jose. I opened the doors and it was a flurry of whirring machines, crinkly material, and stray down feathers fluttering about.

I got a quick tour of the place and a rundown of how the sleeping bags are made. All of Western Mountaineering’s bags are handmade here in San Jose! (And some jackets too!) Each bag takes about six hours to make and only touch two people’s hands in the creation process. Limiting the number of people working on one bag helps to keep quality very high. Not to mention, each bag goes through two quality control check points: once before it is stuffed, and once after it is stuffed. If there’s an errant stitch or the like, the bag does not leave the factory.

Western Mountaineering Headquarters Western Mountaineering Headquarters Western Mountaineering Headquarters Western Mountaineering Headquarters

It was very cool to stop by. Thank you to Gary and Gary at Western Mountaineering for having me!

Western Mountaineering Headquarters Western Mountaineering Headquarters

And just for kicks, pictured above is one of the first Western Mountaineering bags ever made. It is still a usable bag to this day, a great testament to the longevity and quality of one of their bags.

Intro to Snowcamping with the Sierra Club

The San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club holds an introductory snowcamping course every year. Members and non-members go out in the backcountry to get some hands-on experience with seasoned snowcamping veterans.

Sierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to Snowcampingsierrasnowcamping03Sierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to SnowcampingSierra Club Intro to Snowcamping

The course was… an interesting experience. I’m not sure if I would do it again. It’s definitely a great learning experience if you’re looking to transition from three-season backpacking to backpacking and camping year-round. However, the course could be infinitely more organized.

The course is taught in groups of thirty people, with about a 50:50 ratio of instructors or assistant leaders to students. Students spend one day in the classroom and two trips in the backcountry. The classroom day is meant to give you a brief overview on what to expect, how to prepare, and what you need. Then you go out on two trips to practice your skills: map and compass, snow shelters, digging, etc.

The Sierra Club Snowcamping version of backpacking is incredibly different from what I’m used to. I’m all about traveling long distances, eating fast dinners, crawling into my bag when darkness falls, and sleeping until the sun rises. I consider backpacking a nice “reset button” when everything gets thrown out of whack and I need to slow down on life. Not on this trip. The group had a five course (yes, five) meal that began around 5pm that was supposed to last well into the night.

Though everyone was great, friendly, nice and knowledgeable, the amount of anecdotal information everyone had to share was overwhelming and time-consuming. All the assistant leaders had something to say about everything; everyone had an opinion on what was right and what wasn’t. Oftentimes, the more seasoned folks repeated stories over and over again. It lead to a lot of sitting around and listening.

All in all, the instruction and knowledge were great. I got a good refresher in map and compass and route-finding. And I built an igloo-snowcave hybrid with a gear closet. I’d say the latter alone was worth it all.

If you’re interested in taking this course, please visit the Sierra Snowcamping website here. The 2014 season is almost over, but you can start prepping for 2015!

REI Intro to Mountaineering Course

Mountaineering is one of those things that I’ve been trying to get into for a while now. I mean, who can resist gr1m, frostbitten, kvlt ice and spikey things and tall peaks?

For the boyfriend’s Christmas present, I got him an intro to mountaineering class for the two of us through REI’s Outdoor School.

REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review

We woke up well before the sun was up and drove to the REI in Roseville. The other option was to meet at the Donner Pass Sno Park next to Boreal. We arrived at the trailhead at around 10AM due to a freak bus fire accident on the side of 80.

Our instructors, Dakota and Ryan, handed out ice axes, crampons, helmets and gaiters. Students were free to bring their own gear if they had it. Then, we set off across the road towards Castle Peak. It had snowed a bunch the week before, and without snowshoes, we were mostly postholing in the snow.

Did a lot of practice of walking in balance up and down hills. Spent some time practicing kick stepping and the French technique. We spent an absurd amount of time practicing self-arresting in various ways. Did some self belaying up and down the side of a powdery hill. Practiced some “real” mixed climbing up a rock formation.

And then glissaded all the way back down (mostly) to the trailhead, which was awesome. I want to glissade my life away.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into mountaineering, I highly recommend this class, though your mileage may vary. Dakota and Ryan were super, nice, friendly, patient and informative. I feel like I have a decent grasp of basic mountaineering techniques that I can practice on small, less technical peaks.

See ya this summer, Rainier!

This class is available through REI’s Outdoor School website. The cost is $125 for members and $145 for non-members.

Have you taken a class through REI before? What did you think?

Pictured above are the Outdoor Research Women’s Valhalla Pants, Outdoor Research Women’s Riot Gloves, The North Face Women’s Kira Triclimate Jacket, Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet, Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Compass Leggings – Girls’, Icebreaker BodyFit Oasis Crew Long Sleeve, Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters, Camelbak Aventura pack, and Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie.