gear review

Got Dirty Laundry? Clean it Up with Scrubba!

Everyone who has ever gone camping knows dirty laundry will pile up.  For us as long-distance hikers, we know dirty socks are the worst laundry offenders.  While we would often do what we call a "pre-rinse cycle" with our socks by washing them out in the shower with us when we were getting ready to do laundry, we always tried to think of an easier way to do it.  Enter the Scrubba. This dry bag has a built in "washing board" for scrubbing your laundry.  If you're using this bad boy in the backcountry, it's a great way to practice Leave No Trace ethics while cleaning up your smelly hiker clothes at the same time. 

I decided to give the Scrubba a try washing some of NoKey's hiking clothes.  The bag has a water fill line on it for dirty clothes and has two levels depending on how much you're trying to wash.  Since I would be primarily using this in the backcountry, I did it my way.  I put in a pair of long shorts, a T shirt, boxer briefs, a pair of socks, and NoKey's signature balaclava.  I poured in 750 mL of water (24 oz) and a squirt of Dr. Bronner's.  I let out air before rolling down the bag.  Then, I used the valve build in on the side of the bag to let out more air.  Then, I commenced to scrubbing!  The directions on the bag recommend washing from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, but with NoKey's clothes I opted for 3 minutes.  The scrubbing is actually not hard at all.  I bounced the bag around a few times and scrubbed some more.  The bag recommends dumping water out and then putting in clean water to rinse.  Since I'm a hiker, I like to preserve water (and nature) by only dumping one load of gray water.  I pulled each item out of the bag one by one and rinsed it and wrung it into the bag.  I think hung it all out to dry.  I then dispersed the gray water around the area away from the tent. 

image.jpg
Scrubbing away in my Scrubba! 

Scrubbing away in my Scrubba! 

I really liked using this bag. I like seeing the directions clearly printed on the bag and the window for checking on how much dirt comes off your clothes. I also liked that it can use much less water than it calls for depending on what you're washing.  It was easy to use very Leave No Trace friendly.  I also liked the fact that I can use the bag as a stuff sack for clothing.  At less than 5 ounces, it's comparable in weight to other dry bags on the market with a few extra features.  I would recommend this bag to anyone who does extending backpacking trips or even run-cations - a good way to pre-rinse those race clothes and keep them separate in your luggage!  As for water usage, I only used 48 ounces of water to wash and rinse five pieces of clothing - much less than I would have doing a rinse in a hostel or hotel sink during a hike. 

Laundry drying in camp. 

Laundry drying in camp. 

Disclaimer: I was provided the Scrubba free of charge in exchange for a review. I was not required to give it a positive review and, as always, all opinions are my own. 

Tried it Tuesday - SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt (#Giveaway, Review, and Discount!)

Disclaimer: I was sent this belt for free in exchange for an HONEST review.  All opinions are my own, and y'all KNOW I wouldn't recommend any gear I wouldn't use myself! I did not receive any other compensation, nor will I if you use the link below to purchase the belt. 

Regardless of whether you're reading my blog  because you're a runner or a hiker, I know you like new gear.  All of us do.  When I was offered the opportunity to try this new SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt I jumped at the chance!  Not only would this come in handy for running, which I'm doing a LOT of these days, it would also be great for me on a day hike!  My day hiking pack doesn't offer a hip belt and I've been thinking of upgrading, but now I don't have to!  I am really excited to share my thoughts on this belt with you guys and also offer a giveaway at the end of the post!

This  run belt  can hold an iPhone 6 in a waterproof case on one side and then fuel and your car key in the other!  It's got a buckle and elastic waist band too!  SLS3  has thought of everything!

This run belt can hold an iPhone 6 in a waterproof case on one side and then fuel and your car key in the other!  It's got a buckle and elastic waist band too! SLS3 has thought of everything!

My old running belt is a Flip Belt.  While I do like the belt, lately I've been having issues with my phone falling out of it on runs, and usually it falls out, no joke, when I'm crossing an intersection. Seeing that this belt had a zipper, I knew that problem would no longer be in my future!  Another thing about the Flip Belt is that it's one continuous piece of fabric.  While it holds a lot, you have to slip it on over your head or put it on like a skirt.  Taking it off in public places sometimes gets you weird looks!  This SLS3 belt has a clip at the waist.  Not just a regular clip, but a heavy duty clip like you would see on a backpack.  This thing is going to snap in place and stay put. 

I snapped this belt on for a 7-mile run this week and decided to try it out in between layers.  I put it on over my merino undershirt, but underneath my long sleeved top.  You can hardly even tell I'm wearing it, which is another great feature.  It's awkward when you've got a belt that makes you look all lumpy underneath.  This one is sleek and fits well.  I especially appreciate the elastic in the waist band, as it stays snug and secure without riding up, which my Flip Belt also does after a few sweaty miles.  I ran the entire seven miles without this thing moving one time.  I took it out again the next day for 7 more miles and again it felt comfortable.  Today, however, I did have problems with the belt migrating.  It didn't ride up, but it did spin around a bit and ended up on me sideways for quite a bit of the run.  I didn't feel like fooling with it as my pace was great, so I left it alone.  It didn't bother me or feel weird, just having the weight of my phone on my side was a little strange. 

If I didn't have headphones on, you wouldn't even notice I'm wearing a  running belt !

If I didn't have headphones on, you wouldn't even notice I'm wearing a running belt!

After running twice with this belt, I decided to take it on trail with me for a few hikes!  My day pack doesn't have a hip belt, so I can wear the belt and a backpack while out just for a day.  I used the belt to carry my lip balm and car key in one pocket and my ID, debit card, and some cash in the other.  I honestly forgot I was even wearing the belt.  It sat comfortably and didn't rub my back, even where the belt and the pack were riding in the same place.  Again, I wore this belt over my merino undershirt but under a long-sleeved tech shirt.  

So this belt sounds pretty cool, right?  Well, thanks to SLS3 you have the chance to win one for yourself!  Use the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter to win!

Don't want to wait and see if you're a winner? You can buy this belt right now in the SLS3 Amazon store for 57% off at a special introductory price - only $12.90 instead of the usual $29.00.  Here's the link ----->  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017DRIKFY

Do you own a belt for hiking or for running? Which color belt would you want if you won? Leave me a comment below!

Info about the giveaway: The giveaway will be running from Feb. 2, 2016 until Feb. 9th, 2016. Winner will be notified via email (if available) and/or blog post, and will have 24 hours to claim prize.  If original winner does not claim prize within 24 hours, an alternate winner(s) will be selected.  Contestants must enter on the Giveaway widget in order to win.  All winning entries will be verified. If a winning entry cannot be verified as completed, a new winner will be drawn.  Winner will be provided the prize directly from SLS3.  Substitutions unlikely but may apply.  Sprinkles Hikes is not responsible for failure of sponsor to deliver product.

 

I am linking up with Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds so others can enter to #WinAllThePrizes too!

Women's Running Community

Gear Review: Apollo 6 Mobility Package Solar Charger and USB Power Pack

Solar chargers are a popular item in the packs of long-distance hikers, especially as they are first beginning a hike.  As I've tried a few solar chargers in the past, I thought I would give the Apollo 6 Mobility Package - a solar charger with a Spectrum 10 USB powerpack - a try during our summer of exploration.  

Charging a Samsung Galaxy S5

Charging a Samsung Galaxy S5

About the Apollo 6 - This charger has three solar panels and weighs just 6 ounces, so it's incredibly light if you're looking for a solar charger to add to your pack without sacrificing too much other gear.  It uses CIGS solar cells that are flexible and durable, meaning there is no glass at all in the unit and it can withstand wet weather, a must-have feature for those of us hiking on the east coast!  Included with the panel is a rubber stopper to place over the USB port so you can still transport it in wet weather without corroding the inside of the USB port.  It also can still charge the battery pack without the need for direct sunlight.  While direct sunlight is obviously best for a solar panel, partly cloudy or shadowed conditions will still allow the power pack to charge.  

About the Spectrum 10 USB power pack - This incredibly lightweight device has two functions: a battery charger and a flashlight with three settings, including high beam, low beam, and emergency/dance party strobe light.  It comes with it's own micro USB charging cable that can be plugged directly into the Apollo 6 solar panel or into a wall outlet with a USB port for fast charging.  The output on this little device is 5 volts, enough to charge even an iPhone!  When plugged in, the light on the back of the flashlight shows red and turns off when the device has a full charge - a handy feature to have to know you'll get the maximum charge.  

Directly out of the pack, the Spectrum 10 USB Power pack charged a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone from 35% battery to 71% battery.  Since it was fresh out of the mail, we didn't have any way to gauge how full the pack was, so we set out to charge the unit.  We tested Apollo 6 Solar Panels in our yard.  Seeing that we get direct sunlight most of the day on our back deck, we set the charger and the battery pack up outside for 3 hours.  After plugging my iPhone 6 into the battery pack after 3 hours, it charged the battery from 22% to 56% before shutting off. The flashlight on the battery pack still worked, so I plugged my phone back into it,  but no more charge could be drawn.  We plugged it back in to the solar charger and left it outside until sundown, where we then brought it back in and hung it in a window so it could get direct sunlight from the morning sun in the morning.  I plugged in my iPhone at 11:30 and by 12:10 it had gone from a 63% change to 100% charged.  The cool thing about this is the battery pack disconnected from my iPhone at the point it hit 100% to avoid overcharging/running down the power pack.  I thought this was a pretty great feature.  

Charging the battery pack in a window

Charging the battery pack in a window

Since we had tested the battery pack, we decided to test the solar panel with our phones directly.  NoKey's Samsung Galaxy S5 had no problems and could use either the micro USB cord that came with the panel or his Galaxy charging cable.  While the direct plug in method was slower than using a wall charger, it did still charge his phone.  When I plugged my iPhone 6 into the panel with the lightening cable (micro USB doesn't have a port on an iPhone), it started to charge but I immediately got a message saying it wasn't compatible with my device. After contacting Endless Sun Solar, they told me that even though I got the message if I left my phone plugged in it would still charge.  This did indeed turn out to be the case.  Again, it didn't charge fast, but it did pull a charge directly.  The reason for the error message is that iPhones tend to be a little more finicky - the fluctuating voltages from solar (such as heavy cloud cover) make the iPhone think it is connected to a grid during dangerous power fluctuations, and so it shows this message and charges at a much slower rate, even though the solar charger may be putting out ample power to charge. Android phones generally do not have this problem, so this only apply to iPhone users. 

Another scenario we used to charge phones was attempted on The Long Trail in Vermont during our thru hike.  We exclusively used the USB device with a wall charger on this hike due to the sheer lack of direct sunlight we would be getting on a northeastern trail in late summer.  Whenever we were in a place to charge our phones, which happened four times during the 273-mile hike, we would also charge the USB device.  We would get a completely full charge on the USB and then pack it away to use as an emergency backup if we ended up with dead devices on trail.  The only downside of this method was that sometimes we would pull out the bag with the charger to see the flashlight had turned on while in the backpack. Since we had no idea how long the flashlight had been on, usually we couldn't get a full charge for our phones.  However, when using the USB power pack and knowing the flashlight hadn't turned on, we would get one completely full charge from 0-100% on a Samsung Galaxy S5 or on an iPhone 6.  

Dashboard charging - great for car camping! 

Dashboard charging - great for car camping! 

If you are looking for a durable solar panel without the heavy weight or fragility of glass, Endless Sun Solar has a great option.  If you purchase the Mobility Package, you also get the USB power pack, an item I highly recommend both for the weight and the ease of use.  You can check out the package by clicking here

Disclaimer: I received the Apollo 6 Mobility Package for free from Endless Sun Solar as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.