Zeal Optics Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Aviators Review

This summer, I was on the hunt for new sunglasses. I have plenty of sunglasses for outdoor activities; everything from cheap and easily breakable to top-tier cycling shades.

But what about something more stylish?

Something that would be more appropriate for a beach wedding and carnival in Costa Rica?

Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators
Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators

Our friends at Zeal Optics in Boulder sent us a pair of their Easterly Aviators to test out just in time for our flight out.

Given the trend of aviator sunglasses after the latest Top Gun movie, I was game.

The style of the Easterly Aviator is a classic throwback to the 1960’s. They are smaller and rounder than your typical aviator shade, but there is a really cool vibe that is channeled when wearing them.

They are built with a hardy, but light stainless steel frame. These aviator sunglasses are so light. I always dislike heavy glasses that leave marks on my nose from the pads, but these sit and rest easily without the excess weight.

The frame is accented with recyclable, eco-friendly Hexetate on the tips.

Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators
Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators

The lenses are also eco-friendly, using plant-based Ellume Polarized lenses.

Lenses made of plants? Who would have thought? Other lenses are made with a petroleum-based polymer. But Zeal Optics’ approach allows for a lens that is better for the environment and is also lighter and more comfortable.

The lenses are also polarized and have a scratch resistant hardcoating.

The Easterly Aviator’s fit is advertised on their as small/medium. Before trying them on, I was a bit worried. My reading glasses are “wide.” Would my head be too big? No. These fit perfectly!

Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators
Zeal Optics Easterly Aviators

Plus, these were perfect for our Costa Rica vacation. They were really stylish for the wedding and carnival-themed afterparty. They were also a great fit for lounging at the pool or relaxing on the beach.

Now, I know we are an outdoor adventure company. I would recommend these for light hikes, but nothing too technical. Likewise these are great for paddleboarding or boating. But I wouldn’t suggest these for trail-running or your weekend cycling tour.

They retail for $199 and can be purchased on their website or at your favorite outdoor retailer.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt Review

If you could have the perfect after-pool or post-beach shirt, what would it look like?

Would it have a sunglass holder?

Would it be lined with the softest towel-like material?

Would it have a dry pocket that you could slide your iPhone in so that you could take it to the pool or beach without worrying about keeping it dry?

Would it have a pocket to stash an extra beer or seltzer?

Would it come with a bottle opener and coozie?

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

But California Cowboy lives on making your beachwear / poolwear dreams a reality.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt
California Cowboy High Water Shirt

This summer they’ve released their High Water Shirt, which is the amalgamation of all these possibilities.

Over the last month I’ve been hanging out in Costa Rica. Pura Vida, all the way.

A lot of time at the beach and pool and this shirt has become a stable in my daily attire.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt
California Cowboy High Water Shirt

It is lined with terry cloth, so I can hop out of the pool, put it on and be dry and comfortable.

I have three kids, so I’m always chasing after them. Sunglasses stashed on the head or easy to lose, so having a sunglass holder built into the shirt is amazing.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt
California Cowboy High Water Shirt

Likewise, being able to carry an extra beverage or two is very important. The High Water Shirt has that covered with their beverage pocket.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt
California Cowboy High Water Shirt

It’s easy to keep a cold one safe while you’re sipping on another one. Or, if you’re chasing after kids, stash your beverage into your pocket for safe keeping.

If you’re at the beach, it’s also a great pocket for stashing seashells.

Finally, there is the dry pocket. It can easily hold a iPhone Pro Max, wallet, and keys.

Needless to say, the product design on this is fantastic.

California Cowboy High Water Shirt
California Cowboy High Water Shirt

I love this product and it is going with me to the pool and beach every time I go.

You can purchase the High Water Shirt on their website. I am 5’11”, 185 pounds, and wear a size Large.

This Father’s Day, Protect Your Balls With BN3TH

When it comes to protecting your most sensitive area, having the right underwear is key. If it’s too tight or too loose or not the right fabric, you could be in a world of discomfort. And if there’s an area I don’t want to be uncomfortable, it’s there in my nether region.

For Father’s Day, BN3TH sent me a few pairs to test out.

BN3TH Pro Iconic

The fabric in their Pro Iconic line were made out of 82% Polyester / 7% IONIC+™ Polyester / 11% Spandex. They were super comfy. During heavy workouts or long activities like hikes, I found that they wicked moisture away. Not having swamp butt or a sticky crotch was a great feeling.

These were made for movement!

They fit tight around my thighs, but weren’t uncomfortable. During the hikes I took during testing, I noticed that they didn’t ride up like some other underwear. They stayed in place and didn’t bunch up.

BN3TH Pro Iconic

The fabric also contains anti-odor technology to keep things smelling fresh, making day hikes or camping easy.

Over the last several days, I’ve been in Costa Rica. It’s rainy season, so things are also moist. But the days that I wear BN3TH, things are kept super fresh.

But what truly stands out about BN3TH is their MyPakage Pouch Technology™. It’s a pouch for your man goods. It keeps them separate, which helps eliminate chafing or sticky situations.

BN3TH has a variety of styles to choose from based on your various needs. If you’re assessing your underwear drawer and wondering if you need to make a change, the answer is yes.

Ruffwear Approach™ Dog Backpack Review

When hiking with our dog, Parker, our biggest challenge is carrying all the things.

Our backpack is already full of snacks, sunscreen, a first aid kit, and water for the human kids. Yet, we still have water, water bowl, snacks, and poo bags to pack for our canine kid.

Ruffwear sent us their Approach Backpack to review just in time for school to be out and our summer outdoor adventures to begin.

Ruffwear Approach Backpack
Ruffwear Approach Backpack

The Ruffwear Approach Backpack is a harness for dogs that offer saddlebag storage and all-day comfort for your four-legged family members.

The saddlebags contain four total zippered pouches; enough space for water, dog bowls, snacks, food, and those pesky poo bags.

During our testing period, we took Parker on several multi-hour hikes. We were able to store ample supplies, but it is worth noting that Ruffwear suggests that dogs carry no more than 25% of their body weight and to start them out with lighter loads to build up their endurance.

Parker is a big dog and eventually, he’ll be able to carry around 20 pounds. For the testing period, he carried anywhere from 3-7 pounds of supplies. And even with that, there was plenty of room for more light items.

The Ruffwear Approach Backpack is made of a light and durable 150 denier polyester. The saddlebags have a radial cut to provide a comfortable fit and throughout our hikes moved easily with Parker.

Each side has a lower main compartment zipper and an upper side stash zipper. The lower pockets were the perfect size for flat water bottles, food, leashes, and stashing full poo bags. The smaller pockets up top were great for snack bags and his collapsible water bowl.

Ruffwear Approach Backpack
Ruffwear Approach Backpack

On the top of the Approach Backpack, Ruffwear has a padded handle to lift Parker up and over large boulders or sections of trail that were too technical for him. Next to the handle is a metal v-ring for leash attachment.

On the underside of the pack, there is a five point adjustment system. There are three points of adjustment on the chest plate and two additional straps on the underside of the backpack. This allows you to size accordingly to your pup’s size and make sure that the pack is stable, but not too tight; just enough to remove any sway or shifts in the pack.

During each hike, I monitored Parker to make sure the pack was comfortable. Throughout his tail was wagging as he walked down the trail.

After the hike, after I removed the pack, I inspected Parker to make sure there was no rubbing caused by the pack and there wasn’t. He seemed very comfortable throughout.


Overall, I was very impressed with the Ruffwear Approach Backpack. And so way Parker!

It is a very well made, comfortable, and durable piece of hiking equipment.

If you are wanting to hike with your pup and not carry all their crap, this is a great investment. The Ruffwear Approach Backpack is a winning combination. Any time I pull it out, Parker gets excited because he knows a hike is coming!

Swiftwick Releases New Student Designed Socks

Franklin, TN (June 13, 2022)  — Swiftwick® is excited to announce the release of their Limited Edition VISION™ Impression BUGS sock, featuring hand-drawn bug designs by the students of Friends of Warner Parks Urban Nature Program. Each of the 40 students in the program had the opportunity to draw one bug inspired by their adventures outdoors, which the Swiftwick team digitized,  including every child’s drawing on their 360° printed VISION Impression BUGS socks. All sales of the BUGS socks will go back to the Urban Nature Program. 

Swiftwick’s partnership with the Friends of Warner Parks began in April 2021. Swiftwick’s mission is to empower people to be the best version of themselves through the pursuit of adventure, one way they do this is by partnering with organizations, like the Friends of Warner Parks Urban Nature Program, to encourage youth and underserved communities to explore outside.

“We knew almost immediately that having the kids get involved with a sock design was a goal of ours for 2022,” Racheal Hubarth, Brand Marketing Manager at Swiftwick, said. “The goal of the Urban Nature Program is to connect urban Middle Tennessee youth with the outdoors, and together we worked with that team to come up with the best way to help achieve their goal while also allowing the kids to be part of a sock design that we could share with our customers.”

The Friends of Warner Parks is a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that connects underserved youth with nature through hands-on activities and camps like hiking, kayaking and birding. They encourage students to listen, observe, and wonder. Swiftwick’s BUGS sock was inspired by the desire to share the work of this organization with a much larger audience, highlight the discoveries and passion of the kids benefiting from the Urban Nature Program, and continue to give back in a big way. 

“It is truly a joy to work in the field with these students every day, introducing them to the intricacies of their natural surroundings, from what they find outside, to what they eat and how their food grows,” Betty Krogman, Urban Naturalist at Warner Park Nature Center, said. “This sock project perfectly captures the thoughtful wildlife observation, insect discovery, and arts and crafts that this program is built on.”

Swiftwick partners with the Friends of Warner Parks Urban Nature Program through financial support and volunteering efforts, helping to maintain camping areas as well as assisting in facilitating summer programs and extracurricular activities during the school year. The BUGS sock launches June 13th and will be available for purchase with the other VISION socks on Swiftwick’s website, which can be found here: www.swiftwick.com/collections/vision

About Swiftwick

Swiftwick was founded in 2008 when an athlete saw the need for a high-performance sock with superior moisture-wicking and incredible fit. Today, based in Franklin, TN, they are an international brand developing performance socks for every adventure. All Swiftwick products are made in the USA using the most sustainable practices available and are backed by the company’s “Best sock you will ever wear” guarantee. www.swiftwick.com

About The Urban Nature Program

The Urban Nature Program is a partnership between Friends of Warner Parks, Warner Park Nature Center, and Nashville’s Metro Parks community centers that focuses on connecting urban youth (elementary through middle school) with the outdoors through after-school programs, overnight summer camps, and fall evening events. The program connects these youth with nature in their own neighborhood park community centers and encourages exploration of various Warner Parks habitats, including an organic garden, pond, meadowland, and river. Activities include hiking, kayaking, creek exploration/education, wildlife observation, wildflowers, birds, and insect discovery, arts and crafts, and the development of key outdoor skills.

Mountainsmith Makes Big Splash with New Lumbar Packs for 2023

Golden, CO (June 2022) Mountainsmith, a Golden, Colorado based company that has spent more than 40 years as a leading gear manufacturer specializing in durable goods for hiking, camping, and a variety of outdoor activities has expanded their storied line of lumbar packs, while also upgrading their critically acclaimed backpacks. The new lumbar packs coming to market for spring of ‘23 will be the Swoop, Epic, Sprint, and Timber

Mountainsmith has always been committed to providing outdoor enthusiasts with durable gear that can withstand the rigors of any backcountry pursuit. Celebrated for a pioneering spirit that led to a series of breakthrough designs for backcountry adventurers in the 1980s and 1990s, Mountainsmith continues to innovate with groundbreaking designs, while also refining what is tried and true. The need for moving light and fast, while being able to carry a sufficient amount of gear in order to pursue big and wild adventures has never been more paramount than now, which has allowed the famed Colorado outdoor company to re-stake their claim and design what recreationalists and athletes need by doing so with new lumbar packs. 

Spring Collection

With Senior Designer Rio Telge at the forefront of the company’s design plans since ‘21, who has over twenty years worth of designing for outdoor and travel brands, has played a big role in these next level lumbar packs that are changing the way we recreate outdoors by feeling light but stocked with the right gear. These new packs include features such as hunting and fishing front panel organization on the Timber, two side bottle pockets for mountain bike water bottles on the Epic, and a high-performance construction to carry everything you need and nothing that you don’t on the Swoop, while all new lumbar packs have bright yellow lining to promote visibility. 

“Our main goal was to build upon the heritage of our brand while improving and adding new styles for the modern customer. Through testing, surveys of our friends and customers, and market research we have created some great new enhancements for existing styles as well as added some excellent new products to our 2023 collection to make it the best yet,” said Senior Designer Rio Telge. “From the tried and true classics of the Day and Tour, to the multifunctional and technical additions such as the Epic and Timber, to the Ergonomic Swoop and crossbody carry of the Knockabout, there is something for everyone and every adventure.” 

Mountainsmith has a truly renowned past when it comes to lumbar packs. This is thanks to the company’s original 1996 patent that was filed and won with the US Patent Office for a self-supporting lumbar pack. Initially designed to cater to backcountry skiers, the lumbar pack was needed in order to move faster and hold avalanche gear. As backcountry skiing practices changed, lumbar packs became better suited for in-bounds terrain when used for skiing, although the patent, patented for the creation of the Delta Strap, became essential for hikers. The Delta Strap helps pull the load closer to a hiker’s body and into the thoracic region of the back for a more dynamic load carrying system. 

“The new 2023 collection is simply superb. We have dug into our heritage and expertise to add some fantastic updates and new styles to our lumbar pack collection,” Mountainsmith General Manager Jonathan McFarland said. “I think you will find the quality and durability you expect to see from Mountainsmith layered in with some real functional and thoughtful designs. I am excited with the work the team has done and am more excited to show them to the world.” 

To learn more about Mountainsmith, please visit www.mountainsmith.com

About Mountainsmith 

Founded in Golden, Colorado in 1979, Mountainsmith was born and bred in the Rockies and celebrates the gear, stories, adventures, and experiences that have defined the rugged, Colorado-grown, no B.S. lifestyle we continue to share. Though production has since been transformed, Mountainsmith is still designing, testing, and living out the brand only miles from where it all began. Nestled in the Front Range of the Rockies, we are right in the thick of the changing outdoor world. Our heritage—our passion for smart, durable gear and wild adventures—continues to drive the Mountainsmith culture