Friday, March 29, 2013

Sierra Designs Hurricane Pants

One thing you should know about waterproof materials is that if they're 100% waterproof, they're not breathable. If they're breathable, they're not 100% waterproof. Their main purpose, beside from having an extremely high water repellent property, is to keep you warm by preventing evaporative cooling from making your legs cold. Unless you slow your pace way down or at rest, if you hike in the rain, you will perspire regardless of whether your clothes are breathable or not. This is the dirty little secret that most gear manufacturers don’t want you to figure out. It means you can save a little money for other clothing articles or gear where price differences actually result in better performance.


  • Fully Taped PVC-Free Seams 
  • Pant Stuffs into Pocket 
  • 12 Inch Ankle Zipper with Storm Flap and Hook & Loop Closure 
  • Articulated Knees
There's nothing fancy about my Sierra Designs Hurricane rain pants, but for the price that's less than $60, this 5 oz. piece of gear has kept my bottom dry in every journey I've been on. With the elastic waist band and drawcord adjustment, I can easily put them on when need be. The adjustable zipper cuffs are also very helpful so I get them on quickly without taking my shoes or boots off when it starts raining. I like the nice little right side pocket ( also with zipper) for a convenient access.



  • Inseam Length: 27 in. / 68.6 cm  (Small)
  • Weight: 7 oz. (Medium/Large) or 5 oz.(XS/Small)
  • Waterproof: 5,000 mm
  • Breathability: 5,000 g/m


Let's talk about gear testing.

Every piece of gear I own, I trust will do its job and keep me safe when I'm in the wilderness. That being said, I still want to know how far my gear can handle and what line shall I draw based on their limitation.

Taking my chance with the waterfall


For my Sierra Designs Hurricane pants, I challenged them under a class-5 waterfall at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin. It was during early spring; all the ice had melted and the water level was high. If I wasn't careful, I could get very wet and cold very quickly. It would have been an extremely miserable hike back to the trail head. The flow of the water was intense and yet I stayed completely dry.

Playing in the 60 mph wind & rain storm

Joining the party tent with my camp mates.
Another journey where my rain pants did not disappoint me was when I got caught in a rain mixed with hail storm. In addition to that, were 60+ mph wind gusts. My 3 season tent was flat on the ground due to the wind & rain, and the aluminum stakes were too flexible to withhold that kind of force. I had to stand outside and physically hold the tent up with hopes that everything in my tent remained dry. For the record, the contents in my tent did stay dry. I was a very happy camper. During this vicious storm, I had worn Columbia's new Compounder Shell, the Hurricane pants, and my Montrail waterproof hiking boots while struggling to support the poor tent against gale force winds. "Beer in hand" didn't help. After awhile, as the storm was calming down, I decided to join my camp mates in a gigantic party tent. The storm finally stopped after 2 hours of sprinkling. My camp mates and I stood around our magical campfire, of which we somehow managed to start and keep going for the rest of the night. I then realized my shoulder and arm areas were wet. I unzipped and removed the jacket. The inside of my jacket was glistening in the light of our camp fire. Also, the backside of my shirt was soaked. To make sure the rest of me wasn't drenched, I took my pants off and found every inch of my body from belly button down was perfectly dry. Don't worry, I wasn't completely naked. On a side note, I'd suggest you to not waste your time or money investing in a Columbia Compounder. I was fortunately able to dry my upper body by standing around the fire.

Climbing to the summit of Wyoming's highpoint 


Traveling through the Dinwoody Glacier in the Wind River Range, WY.

Worn overtop insulating baselayer(s), my Hurricane pants are a great replacement for snow pants when it comes to weight reduction on long backpacking trips. In fact, I wore them during a climb to the summit of Wyoming's highpoint, the mighty Gannett Peak. 9 hours between glacier traveling and class-3 boulder scrambling, without restricting any mobility, they were so breathable that never once did I get sweaty. My butt was dry throughout the course of me sitting on the glacial snow while belaying the others over a major bergschrund.

My giddy "summit" pose on top of Gannett Peak.


Overall thoughts and conclusion 


The only downside of the Hurricane pants is that the material is very thin. They do have Ripstop technology, but that won't do much if you have a wrestling match with your highly energetic kittens. Nevertheless, just like any other waterproof, breathable shells out there on the market, after a long period of heavy use, this DWR (durable water repellent) coating will slowly begin to wear off, leaving the fabric exposed not only to water, but also several impurities like skin oil, sweat, and dirt. Once these seep into the membrane, the great benefits will quickly fade away and its waterproof property will decrease. There is nothing you can do about it. However, with proper care and treatment , they will last longer and ensure many years of dry, comfortable outdoor experiences, because, in my opinion, good rain-wear garments are the most essential items in my pack.

All-in-all, not only my Hurricane pants provide excellent waterproofing and wind resistance, but also a great balance between comfort features and light weight. The bottom line is, I love my rain pants. Will I recommend them to others? ABSOLUTELY.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

PraAna Quinn Chakara Top

I am 5'1", 105 lbs and wear PrAna tank tops all the time. Smalls always fit snugly and sportively for me. In this shirt, the top fits nice over tummy area, not clingy. However, it is a bit bigger on top and I had to pull it up several times in yoga class. Even though the soft, Mahdi-like fabric hangs a little loose, the self-bra still provides excellent support. Its attractive scoop-neck design with the unique double-racer-back straps, plus the built-in bra, keep things in place when you stretch. PrAna Quinn top is super comfortable and has great coverage. I never think about it while I'm wearing it which to me, is a huge plus.


I wear this top to yoga each time I attend. It is not only comfortable, but it is cute and stylish enough to wear it for casual wear as well. That being said, the shirt is also GREAT for lounging in the hammock and/or for comfortable, attractive wear. This fitted top with earth-friendly fabric will work well for both yoga, hiking/dog walking, AND look great with a skirt, jeans, or shorts. Ladies, admit it, just because you're out being active while enjoying the nature, doesn't mean you "hate" the idea of being sexy. I get tons of compliments every time I wear it. With excellent options in colors and designs, this soft, quick-drying Veeda fabric will become your favorite top to work out in.


  • Tank Top
  • Sleeveless
  • Length: 22" (based on size small)
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Fabric: 45% recycled polyester, 45% polyester, 10% spandex
  • Care: Machine wash, dry flat

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Columbia Powerdrain™ Water Shoes

Shoes are among the most important pieces of equipment that I bring to the backcountry.With every step, they are the direct interface between me and the land. I have somewhat, borderline wide feet with the flattest of all flat that an arch could offer. I've gone through so many shoes in my life in search for the "right" one. Today, I am going to talk about Columbia's Powerdrain water shoes, as it is my privilege to be a part of their "Trying Stuff".

 Field use and performance:
  • Columbia's new 3-layer technology: the mesh, TPU, and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) cushion, provided me the barefoot comfort at every touch point. Additional to that, with no-sew TPU caging and a protective TPU toe cap, I was gratified by the perfect fit around my foot. 
  • Easy-cinch bungee cord lacing system allows me to quickly adjust the fit and still maintain ample toe space.
  • The Powerdrain insoles are engineered with Columbia's Techlite™ technology, not only durable, but also absorbing for consistent support and protection throughout a range of impacts. This ideal lightweight material is naturally antimicrobial, easy to care, and odor-resistant for regular, long-term usage.
  • Not to ignore, I must shamelessly agree that these 7.2 ounce shoes are the most attractive wilderness-worthy "camp" sneakers I could ever ask for. After a long day of hiking, it feels good to get out of my boots and air out my feet by a camp fire. I don't need to be a pretty bitch in the backcountry, but hey, being stylish doesn't hurt. I'm a girl, therefore, I am entitled to be attracted to any vibrant, colorful objects.  

Nice attractions:

Columbia's Omni-Grip features small-cut wedges (help move water out from under the shoe) for flawless traction on wet, slick surfaces and a perimeter design for a stable stride on solid ground.   

What about their draining power? After engulfing my shoes underneath the lake's surface, within 3 seconds, built-in drainage ports in heels and forefoot allowed water an instant strategic escape lest my feet suffocate in a pool of liquid. Columbia Sportwear didn't name these water shoes "Powerdrain™" for no reason.

Major disappointments:

As exciting as it is to see the amphibious Powerdrain™ marking their top-notch performance in the market, "quick-drying" and "breathability" are the prominent features that I hope to be improved in the nearest future. My feet stay sweaty due to the lack of air flow, even while in motion. Perhaps, another approach needs to be established to prevent water from staying collected beneath the insoles. As a consequence, my feet felt constantly damp for several hours after being submerged in the lake. Nevertheless, taking them apart to dry them out by a camp fire was also remarkably enjoyable.