True Life: I’m Becoming a Gear-Head, and Giveaway Winner!

The Qore Performance giveaway has come to an end! Thank you so much for all your comments about this awesome company. I’m incredibly passionate about what they are doing and I know you will be too once you give them a try! So congratulations to Steph F. from Wisconsin, who is our winner! She selected the slider shorts. If you didn’t win, no worries! Use discount code TRex20 to get 20% off any product on Qore’s website and test their products out for yourself! They make excellent holiday gifts 🙂

In fact, I’ve become a bit of a gear-head recently, which is sort of weird. I’m not typically the type of person to pay a whole lot of attention to the latest tech fabrics or boot technology or lightest-weight backpack, because it just honestly has never interested me all that much. I think that has started to change for two reasons: 1) I’m learning a lot about different kinds of really cool technology thanks to some very forward-thinking brands that I work with, and 2) I’m expanding my interests a lot more into the travel and outdoor spheres in addition to running and barre.

For example, on Veteran’s Day last week, I headed out for a hike. I’ve been dying to get out and explore more of Greenville, but it seems like it’s been raining here every single weekend for the past 2 months. That’s not an exaggeration. So yeah, it was a random Wednesday, but the weather was beautiful and I had a new pair of hiking boots in my closet to test out so I thought, why not?

HOKAS come in many forms, apparently

A big part of my motivation was wanting to get out and test out my new hiking boots. See, HOKA has entered into the hiking boot market (which makes sense since they started out making trail shoes). I’ve never really had a pair of hiking boots before – I always just wore trail running shoes, and in fact, that’s how I hiked the entire Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But now that I live somewhere with quick access to a ton of hiking trails and outdoor resources, it seemed like it might be a good idea to get some actual hiking boots. Plus, I’ve got some more international trips up my sleeve for next year, and all of them revolve heavily around trekking and nature. Luckily, HOKA hooked me up and sent me a pair of their new boots! Holy crap, what a game changer! There is a huge difference between hiking in boots and hiking in running shoes. My ankles felt way more supported, and that HOKA cushioning was noticeable. I hiked 7 very hilly and technical miles, and although I was super sore the next day, my feet felt great. Oh, so this is what it is like to have the proper gear!

A little solo hike waterfall action

In speaking of my international travels, I’m currently on the hunt for the world’s perfect backpacking backpack (not as redundant as it sounds). I’m looking for one that includes a detachable daypack and is good for trips of about 2 weeks. I’m in the process of doing my research now and am preparing to buy one pretty soon! Same thing goes for a new camera. I am ready to bump up to an entry-level DSLR and take some lessons and figure out how to really take amazing pictures that I can share with you here. If I am going to go to beautiful places, I might as well take pictures that do them justice, right? So any recommendations that you have (on either a sweet backpack or an entry-level DSLR) would be most appreciated.

When I was growing up, my mom always emphasized “quantity over quality” – yes, literally the exact opposite of what most people heard growing up. She grew up in a family where money was tight and she didn’t have a lot of options on clothes to wear, so she bought a lot of inexpensive clothing once she could afford to, and that way, she had options. For a long time, I subscribed to that theory as well, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the value in spending more for something that I truly love and will last a long time – something like a great backpack, camera, or hiking boots. What’s the point in being uncomfortable but having a million different ways to be uncomfortable? Sometimes that means waiting a little longer and saving up more so that I can have what I want, but it’s worth it in the end, at least in my opinion.

So to that end, I’m putting my money where my mouth is an investing in high-tech products that I think are awesome, useful, and worth the money. Qore Performance has just introduced its latest project, the Hydration Shirt, and is currently raising funding on Kickstarter in hopes of making this dream a reality.

Both long sleeve and short sleeve are available!

What makes The Hydration Shirt unique are the Pulse Point Pockets which hold the heat-absorbing inserts in place where our bodies have a high volume of blood flowing close to the skins surface. These inserts absorb heat from your blood stream so your body doesn’t have to sweat or breathe as intensely to dispose of excess heat. In turn, this keeps more water in your body, boosting hydration and nearly every other aspect of athletic performance with it: endurance, strength, mental focus and especially recovery.  Of course, The Hydration Shirt is also moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, four-way stretch, and UPF 50+. It’s amazing. ” – Qore Performance

I put my money where my mouth is and backed the Hydration Shirt campaign – I can’t wait til my shirt gets here! I purchased the short sleeve version because South Carolina is a very stupid, hot place, but I can’t wait to try it out. Knowing how much their shorts have changed my running for the better and how much other gear I’ve purchased or been given has changed my life, it is exciting to think that there is something else in the pipeline that could improve the way I stay active. Check out their Kickstarter campaign and grab one of the Hydration Shirts at a MASSIVE discount before they’re all gone!

Yes, I’m turning into quite the gear-head, and I’m fine with that. While I’ll be the first person to tell you that you don’t need a lot of stuff to get out and run, hike, or travel, I’ll also be the first person to tell you that there are some products out there that just make life a whole lot easier.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What gear can you not imagine living without? Do you have any backpack or entry-level DSLR recommendations for me?

20 thoughts on “True Life: I’m Becoming a Gear-Head, and Giveaway Winner!

  1. Just spent 14 days in Italy with my new North Face daypack. Not as extensive as what you want but definitely learned that having a woman’s pack and a removable/adjustable back support was worth the extra $$. And yes, quality is getting more important as I travel more and quantity less (remembering your capsule wardrobe for packing!)

    1. Great advice, Tracie! I am definitely going to get a woman’s pack and I appreciate your recommendation about the removable/adjustable support!

  2. I love InkNBurn gear. It’s high quality first of all, but the graphics they put on them … unbelievable!! Especially if you’re a teacher and want to have some fun holiday themed stuff:

    My husband recently purchased an Osprey pack for a trip we took in Europe. I think it was this one, but not 100% sure:

    The one feature I really liked was the detachable smaller pack on the bag, which came in handy when we settled into a hotel for a day and just wanted a smaller pack to carry cameras and stuff while we wandered the sites. The bag, FYI, was the perfect size for a carryon on the plane, too.

    1. I have quite a few friends who wear InkNBurn stuff, and you’re right, the graphics are incredible! I really appreciate the backpack rec as that is one of the packs I was looking at, so I might end up with that one! Thank you!

  3. True, I said that when you were growing up because that way you had a lot more clothes instead of just a few expensive ones 🙂 Absolutely important that you have good hiking boots and packpack, although my hiking boots might need an update (hint hint) if yours are so fabulous ! Maybe I can try them out at Thanksgiving. I need to go hiking!!!

  4. It’s technically not a DSLR, but I have a Fuji X100s for personal stuff. We took it hiking this summer and it was PERFECT – it easily fit in my raincoat pocket when the skies opened up. You can use it full manual or full auto, and it has the same size sensor as most DSLRs so the image quality is top notch.

    1. Awesome, Noelle! I am not 100% sure about getting a DSLR and am worried about portability for sure since I do so much hiking and moving around. I’ll check this one out! thanks!

  5. So interesting that HOKA is breaking into the trail boot market?? I’ll have to check that out. I also can’t wait to hear your review on this hydrating shirt…What the??

    1. I know, Allie! I am super pumped about both. I am in love with the hiking boots and can’t wait to try the hydrating shirt!

  6. Yay for gear heads! I’ve been one since … well, probably my 1979 purchase of an Apple][+ is where it all began … 🙂

    I defer to others on the backpacks – I took some notes as well as I only have a couple of mediocre ones!

    Love that you got some REAL hiking shoes! So important!

    As for a camera, I defer to my younger son, who is an amazing photographer … he bought himself a Canon EOS Rebel T5i this summer and has done some great stuff with it. He can capture great stills and video, and even snapped up an adapter to use some really old lenses from Lisa’s dad from the 60s and 70s …

    But I also recommend checking out all the Black Friday deals, since many are already happening or will be vailable next week online (no store required).

    1. Thanks for the camera recommendation! I have been looking at the Rebel T5i and of course, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming around, I’ve been looking at little harder than usual 🙂

  7. Hi! I’ve been a photographer for a long time although it took me a long time to buy a DSLR (because I’m old and grew up using a regular SLR… and kept buying those… or nice small digital non SLR cameras I could take anywhere for ages until finally I got my first DSLR in 2010)

    A wise photo teacher once told me, the best camera is the one you have with you in the moment. So there is something to be said for having a great small camera, whether it’s your phone or a tiny point and shoot. So know that you probably won’t want to take your nice SLR out for a run or some hikes where weight/battery life/intense wetness is an issue and you may also want to keep or buy a nice small pocket sized digital camera or weatherproof your phone if the shots are nice.

    That said, I am a Canon girl. I used to be a Pentax girl back in the 90s. Some people decide they are Nikon folks. In my mind, if you want to keep going up and you want SLR it’s Canon or Nikon. Either of those will do you fine, I don’t know as much about Nikons so if you want more info on those I can’t help but I’ve seen amazing shots and know great photographers who love them.

    I currently shoot with a Canon 7D and 2 lenses – a Sigma 17-70 zoom with optical stability and a Tamron 75-300mm zoom that came with the camera but gets nice shots so I didn’t replace it. It originally came with a kit 24-70mm lens that was kind of sub par and actually broke by mistake in an accident with people knocking it over in my office at work. I rented lenses from to try different ones out and I ended up getting the Sigma as my replacement since it was affordable but super versatile and works great with the crop-frame sensor in the Canon 7D. (My wide shots before weren’t wide enough for large groups).

    Most of the Canon entry level to semi-professional camera bodies are crop-frame sensor which means whatever the lens says is slightly cropped out of the final photo – and your view. But on a full frame camera like the 5D Mark II or III it will show the full area. This is good to know when buying lenses to keep in the back of your mind.

    Basically, whatever your budget is, you should get a camera body that should do whatever your minimum level of need is, plus allow you to grow for a while. Do you want to shoot video? Do you want to shoot in very low light or super long exposures like star trails? Do you want to do time lapses? Etc. Make a list of everything you want the DSLR for and then do a quick compare of the bodies in your price range.
    So if you choose Canon, you could pick the Rebel line, you could pick the 6D, you could pick the 60D, you could pick the 7D… those are all good semi professional cameras that will allow you to grow a lot as a photographer but won’t have you laying out a ton of $$$ up front. They all have slight differences, like 6D and 60D are slightly faster than 7D but 7D has better video quality… etc. Rebel would be the more entry level version but a coworker of mine uses hers with a quality lens and gets great pics and videos.

    Then you can either buy the whole kit, which will come with 1 or 2 kit lenses or you can buy your lens separately. Lenses are important but you should be able to keep them as you upgrade your camera body if you stay in the same brand.

    If you never shot DSLRs that much before I honestly see nothing wrong with the kit lens, you should try to get something like a 17-70/24-70 zoom and maybe a longer one, like the 75-200 or 75-300 if possible. Or a 50mm fixed lens is also nice to have with a fast shutter speed and wide aperture like f 1.0-2.0. Then use it as much as possible, all the time… and see where you are finding limitations. You can rent lenses to try them out without spending $1500-3000 on them. You will probably be limited by your lens before your camera body as you are learning. After 5 years with the 7D I rarely feel like my camera body is limiting me or at least not very often. (Only when I want to shoot a video which is longer than 10 minutes straight shooting with no stopping in between, which is rare). Of course I want the 5D Mark III but currently this camera is pretty damn great. My friend used his Rebel body and upgraded his lenses 1 by one til he had the best Canon lenses and then bought the 7D and eventually the 5D Mark III when he was shooting a lot of weddings and etc.

    A couple places for help

    1. Tricia, this advice is AWESOME thank you for taking the time to spell it all out for me! You gave me a lot to think about and I’ve been continuing to do research and figure out what is right for me. Your point about the best camera being the one you have with you at the time really resonated with me, and I’ve found myself worrying about size/weight given how active I am and how much of my travel revolves around hiking and walking around. I’ve found myself looking at a mirrorless camera like a Sony A6000. Do you have any thoughts on something like that versus a DSLR?

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