Monday, February 6, 2017

Outfitting Your Valentine's Day With Bivouac

Outfitting Your Valentine's Day With Bivouac

When you're with your significant other, every day is special. But why not make Valentine's Day the most special one of all? Whether you're climbing, staying in, or heading into town for dinner, the Bivouac team has you covered for outfitting any type of date. Check out our ideas below!

Climbing Date: Women

Your outfit for the climbing gym has to be cute, yet sensible - something you can sweat in, before grabbing a beer after you climb. We recommend starting with a graphic tank from the North Face. This tank feels like cotton, while it's made from quick-drying fabric to keep you sweat-free and on the move. Next, we're giving your look some color and pairing the tank with a pair of bright leggings. Next up is the Ziona bra from Lole: adjustable and soft, with a mesh back for breathability. Plus, the pattern is striking, you won't mind if it sticks out of your tank when you're at the top of the rock wall. We clinched the look with a pair of La Sportiva climbing shoes and a Lole headband. You'll be comfy, cute, and ready to climb with your date this V-Day! 

Climbing Date: Men

Let's start out with a long-sleeve graphic tee from Patagonia, a loose fit to keep you comfortable when you're climbing and belaying your date. We paired the shirt with breathable Patagonia climbing pants, complete two front pockets to hold keys and cash to keep you hands-free. The Patagonia Roger That hat keeps the hair out of your eyes, with a classic Patagonia front design. We clinched the outfit with Evolve climbing shoes and a Black Diamond harness. You are ready for the climb with your Valentine's Day sweetheart. 

Cozy Night In: Women

We've got you started in some seamless Hanky Panky boyshorts and an Eberjey bralette, for a lacy look without any discomfort. Next is a cropped sweatshirt from Feel the Piece, paired with PJ Salvage pajama shorts. Try our Philanthropy joggers if you're too chilly for shorts. Our Minnetonka moccasins are guaranteed to keep you warm as you snuggle up with your sweetheart for a Netflix marathon. We recommend lighting one of our many Voluspa candles to set the Valentine's mood! 

Cozy Night In: Men

These picks will give you some style and are sure to impress your Valentine's Day date, without sacrificing comfort! Let's start out with a cozy Velvet thermal and our "chick magnet" boxers from Vineyard Vines. Slide into some Woolrich pajama pants, or a pair of trendy joggers from Grayers. Finally, our Woolrich slippers will be sure to keep you warm on any chilly February night.

Dinner Date: Women

We'll start you off with an elegant Ali and Jay long-sleeve bodycon dress that will hug you in all the right places. The dress makes an easy transition from the restaurant to after-dinner drinks or dancing. We paired the dress with a bright red Rebecca Minkoff handbag, keeping with the Valentine's Day theme, and a Jennifer Zeuner "Love" necklace to tell your special someone how you feel. Dolce Vita open back booties and a Line leather jacket complete the sophisticated look. And don't forgot our Hanky Panky panty rose gift - available in multiple colors in-store!

Dinner Date: Men

Our Men's Fashion section is the perfect place to shop for any occasion. We've got the best picks to impress your date - anywhere from drinks at the Black Pearl, casual pizza at Mani Osteria, or even some late night grub at Fleetwood Diner. We have you in a sleek, black pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans, so soft that you'll never want to switch them for sweatpants. We've paired them with a Mizzen and Main button-down with an athletic fit - the opposite of the stiff, collared shirts your mom used to make you wear. Our Velvet Dougal Bomber jacket will keep you warm and stylish in the cold February weather, along with our Begg and Co. scarf. Don't forget a brown leather belt from Bison Designs and some comfy Clarks to complete the look. Your significant other won't be able to resist you!

We hope our picks helped you and your date brainstorm the perfect Valentine's Day evening. No matter what you're doing, we know it will be special. From all of us at Bivouac, Happy Valentine's Day! 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Adventures in Yosemite

From June 7th to 10th of this year, I along with a college friend had the opportunity to hike a forty-ish mile stretch of the Tuolumne river, through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River from White Wolf to Glen Aulin in Yosemite National Park. More than anything else, this trip was a testament to the versatility of myself, my hiking partner, and the equipment that we carried.

The hike started at White Wolf, a trailhead six miles from the wall of the canyon. At eight thousand feet most of the ground was still covered in winter snow that would often collapse under human weight if not properly tested. These conditions changed drastically at the crest of the canyon. As we descended the four thousand feet of elevation in switchbacks, snow quickly gave way to dust and dirt, dried by the suns intense rays on the granite faces. The snow had slowed our approach considerably and at mid-day when our descent began temperatures sat in the mid-nineties, so hot in fact that the glue on one of my pack zippers melted, splitting open.
Day one closed sleeping next to the Tuolumne river, its banks broken by the above average snow melt that year, turning the once calm river into a field of rapids the width of a football field. Before we had left we were warned by park officials that the trail was cut next to the river in most places, and there would be a chance that it could be slightly flooded now. This was a gross understatement.

The next morning was spent in water up to our thighs, belaying each other for safety as we hiked twenty or thirty yards at a time through the rivers outer banks, in constant prayer that the rocks beneath our feet wouldn’t shift. We emerged from the river unscathed (Save for hundreds of mosquito bites), and continued on our journey again finishing the day with a two thousand foot climb which again came late in the day seeing temperatures in the nineties. We made camp that night on the rocks above water wheel falls, where a depression at the base causes the water to spray upwards higher than the falls themselves.

Finally, the next morning after coming to the top of our final big ascent of the trip we were faced with the garbage of the overflowing river. By that I mean that the meadows surrounding the river had turned into a two-foot deep bog riddled with trees that had been dragged downstream. We attempted in vain to use the trees as bridges through the slop until falling off enough times that we resigned to simply trudging through the water until reaching its end and a few miles later the trail head.
My original intention for this trip was to test a few items sent to me by Big Agnes and Sea to Summit respectively (both companies will be reviewed at a later date), but they weren’t the gear that stood out. Really, the hardest tested pieces of gear on this trip were our footwear which were asked to keep us warm in snow, cool in dirt and dust, give us traction on slick river rocks, and dry out quickly after crossings. To this end both of our boots performed admirably, but my own seemed to edge out.
For his choice, my partner chose to carry a pair of TPS 520 GV EVO’s by Asolo, while I wore a pair of Ultra Fastpack mid II’s from The North Face. In keeping the water out his Asolo’s were vastly superior to my North Face’s. The full grain leather construction and Gore-Tex membrane kept water at bay, even when the laces were briefly submerged during crossings. In contrast, the synthetic upper and Gore-Tex membrane did little in anything to stop water from leaching into the boots even from small puddles. That said, the North Faces outperformed the Asolos considerably in drying out. Due to being a far more breathable synthetic material, the fastpacks would dry out within an hour of a crossing, giving me the confidence to wear them through the rivers.
The Asolos on the other hand retained water considerably longer, leaving my partner with wet boots and frequent sock changes until left to dry overnight. Both pairs of boots performed admirably in providing traction and keeping our feet warm in the snow, but the fastpacks won out again in comfort. At fifteen ounces, the fastpacks are some of the lightest boots on the market, and therefore make it easier to hike long distances as the weight of the Asolos (twenty -nine ounces), makes every more difficult, especially in the warmer weather, where the fastpacks mesh top allowed for better ventilation than the Asolos.
Both pairs of boots served their purposes, but the lightweight quick drying North Face Fastpacks beat out the Asolo TPS 520 GV EVO’s for this breadth of terrain and situations needing to be conquered.

~ Travis (sales employee)

Saturday, August 20, 2016



Every good adventure, hero, invention, seems to have a grand origin story. I would like to say the origin story of Miyagi & Aquarius, a.k.a Lindsey and Dave is just as grand as those of legend, and in some ways it is. But really, it’s a simple boy meets girl…girl rebuffs boy multiple times…boy is persistent…girl gives into boys advances after his backpacking trip story. 
The key ingredient in this relationship recipe is of course, common ground, and that ground just happened to be an independent gear store in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Bivouac. 
He was a graduate and she was a student. Both drawn to the outdoor industry by a passion for adventure and a way to fund their next one. 
The Bivouac Boot room was their domain as well as a sanctuary for planning their great escapes. Sometimes they escaped to Pictured Rocks (their first date), and sometimes they escaped to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky to climb. Other times they escaped to West Virginia and rafted the wild white water of the New and Gaully rivers.  

Each escape created closer bonds among themselves and the band of friends and fellow employees who joined them on their escapades. Eventually after years of outfitting customers for their grandest of adventures, the couple decided to take a grand adventure themselves and move cross country to the mythical land of Portland, Oregon; in fact joining a few ex-bivouac crew mates already living in the PNW.

After a time the couple grew restless and decided another epic escape was needed…this time they were going for a bucket list item…one that had been written down all those years ago on some random night while working in the  Bivouac Boot room. And so a Thruhike plan was born!

But, that magical place they first met all those years ago had one last gift to give, and after 1700 miles into their journey a box arrived. In it, the couple found replacement mattresses; for theirs had been destroyed long ago. They also received new socks and enough snacks to fuel their hiking habits into the next state! 

But more important they found words of encouragement from Bivouac staffers new and old…reminding them that any adventure is a shared adventure as long as you have a story to tell! So maybe our origin story really is that grand…but then again it’s not over yet either…the adventure has only just begun! 
Thanks for all the trail love Bivouac crew! It meant the world!
~Miyagi & Aquarius!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wanderluster and Waterfalls

Like most people who work at an outdoors store, I love to travel. More than that, I love traveling to beautiful natural places. This spring, I got the chance to spend six months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying and teaching English. On the weekends, when I wasn’t going to boliches (Argentinian clubs) or spending time in the city, I traveled, seeking out South America’s most breathtaking environments. Of all my travels, one of the best places I’ve explored so far is El Parque Nacional Iguazú in Misiones, a small province in Northern Argentina up by Brazil.
A few months ago, my friend and I decided on a whim that we needed to travel. We got online, looked at the airline prices and booked a flight to the one of the country’s true natural paradises: Iguazu, Argentina. I had heard from my porteño friends (and various talkative cab drivers) that I had to go there and experience the best the country had to offer. In the words of one Buenos Aires cab driver: “You see the falls of Iguazu and you know that God is real.” With all unanimous high praise, it was worth the cost of the plane ticket there.
On the day of our departure, my friend and I hopped in a cab together with our backpacks, cameras, and high hopes for adventure. We had been scheduled to leave the night before but had delayed because of a storm, so we weren’t too sure of what to expect as far as weather in Iguazu.
When the plane set down at the two-gate airport in Iguazu, a thick fog crept over our windows; we couldn’t even see the trees surrounding the runway. It was about 4 p.m. in the afternoon, and due to the fog, we decided to just go check into our hostel then walk around the town a bit. We had a nice “Peruvian/Cuban” dinner (which wasn’t really either Cuban or Peruvian but was still good) at a local restaurant, then went to bed and hoped for clear weather the next day.
The next day, I woke early to rays of sunshine dancing on my face – the fog had lifted, and so had my spirits. My Iguazu adventure was happening. I jumped out of bed, woke up my friend, then rushed to get dressed, gather our things, and hit the road to see the park. We quickly ate our breakfast of rice, beans, and medialunas (the amazing Argentinian version of croissants) and left the hotel. Forty minutes later, we had bus tickets to the Parque Nacional de Iguazu and were waiting rather impatiently on the bus platform.  
After a short 20 minute bus ride, we arrived at Parque Nacional de Iguazu. We practically ran to the ticket booth to get our park tickets. Finally, after a flight, a bus ride, and a line for tickets, we entered the park and made our way down the trail towards the falls. After a bit of walking, we turned a corner and suddenly saw the falls.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but my cabbie said it best. “You see the falls of Iguazu and you know that God is real.” I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, but I’ve heard that Iguazu’s falls are significantly bigger. And I can believe it. They stretched for what looked like a mile or more of solid waterfall.
As my friend and I wandered around the park, we were struck by how many different viewing platforms the park had for the falls, and how each view was somehow more impressive than the last. One of the best points of the park is called “Garganta del Diablo” literally “Devil’s Throat”; it was true to its name.
After the spectacular views of “Garganta del Diablo”, we made our way through the park’s other activities. We walked all the listed trails and stopped at all the viewing platforms, taking in the luscious forest at every opportunity. We didn’t go on the boats at all because it was rather cold that day, but we were ok with that – after our long hike and the early morning, we were about ready to call it quits. Satisfied, we got on the train to head back to the main entrance and leave the park. When we got off the train, one of the guys working at the park waved us over.
“Have you guys done everything in the park? Seen all the falls?” He asked questions like he already knew our answers.
We nodded yes – we walked the high trail, the low trail, and the Devil’s Throat. Of course we’ve seen all the falls. The man shook his head and smiled. “There’s a hidden one,” he told us, then motioned for my friend and I to follow. He led us over to a small trail and pointed down a winding path. “3.5 km and there’s a small lagoon. You have to go visit it before you leave.”
My friend and I took inventory of things we’d need for the 7km hike. Water? Check. Time before sunset? Check.
It was a pretty short list, and a pretty easy decision.
Because I’m used to hiking National Parks in the Utah desert, we had more than enough water and food for this quick extension of our day. We thanked the worker and started down the trail. 3.5 km later, we came to a beautiful grotto with a waterfall and a crystal clear pool at the bottom. It was the kind of place I felt like should stay at least a bit of a secret, so I didn’t take any pictures. In the true spirit of the place (and our friend by the train), I felt out of place sharing that fall with the Internet. So if any of you want to see the secret fall at Iguazu, you’ll have to go and find it for yourself!
We got back right as the sun was setting which was perfect timing. We made our way out of the park and back to the bus stop, completely in awe of the entirety of the Iguazu Falls.
Now back in Buenos Aires, writing this post and going through my pictures of the falls, I wish I could go back and experience it all again. There’s pure magnificence in every part of Iguazu National Park: the dramatic post-storm clouds, the roaring of the cascading tons upon tons of water sliding off the cliffs, and the breathtaking vistas. But luckily, Iguazu is not the only beautiful place in South America, or even Argentina. I have lots of other adventures to look forward to during the remainder of my time here in South America.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Summer in Ann Arbor. It’s the time of the year that reminds all of Ann Arbor’s residents why they live in a place where there are 9 long months of winter. Among a wide variety of unique, and fun activities, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival stands out year after year as an event, or rather a series of events, that never fails to disappoint. The Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) has been running for more than 30 years, and is home to the nearly 80,000 patrons that attend some part of the festival each summer. Such a large organization has faced countless changes and challenges throughout its existence, but it has managed to stay strong as a key part of the local culture that is Ann Arbor.

With the summer festival upon us once again, I had a chance to speak with Amy Nesbitt, the Executive and Artistic Director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, about her take on why the summer festival is such an incredible timeless and important tradition in Ann Arbor.

What do you do for the A2SF?

Nesbitt is in her 10th season working for A2SF, and as the Executive and Artistic Director, she oversees all event volunteers and staff, and the general logistics of the entire event: “Artistically it’s my job to fulfill our mission in a financially responsible way.” She started working for the A2SF in 2007 as an operations manager. Since then she has helped book bands, launch the acoustic stage, create the retreat wellness program, and really just helped expand the entire festival. She and her team spend most of the year fundraising, but “...80% of what the organization does happens in an 8 week period that’s full of crazy moment to moment decisions.” While it is tough and demanding during those key summer weeks, she explained to me that it has become, “ pastime as well as my job, I love arts and culture.”

What are some of the most challenging parts of the A2SF?

Funding. The A2SF is a 1.3 million dollar organization, but 90% of the events are admission free for its patrons, which means that the money for the events needs to come from somewhere. That means, that when her staff isn’t booking performances, and directly planning events, they are planning fundraisers, applying for grants, and talking to donors. “People are amazed that we can do what we do with so little funding. Luckily our donor base has been growing because of the generational aspect of Ann Arbor. To us, it’s not the amount in someone’s check, it’s the fact that in their charitable giving they decide that the summer festival is worth giving to.”

Why is the A2SF so important to you?

After only talking to Nesbitt for 30 minutes, one thing was extremely clear: the summer festival is something that she is extremely passionate about. It’s important to her that the A2SF embraces local culture and talent, and really embeds itself with the local community and citizens.

“It’s really important to me because of the expansive mission it serves, and the expansive number of attendees that are so fabulously effected in such positive ways...we are the most barrier free thing in the community. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what language you speak etc, anyone and everyone can be there and experience it.”

What’s your favorite part of A2SF, and what are some highlights from this year?

Nesbitt made it quite clear that one of her favorite things about the A2SF, and therefore something that’s a core focus of her team, is the emphasis on the local community. A2SF started at the Power Center and on the Fletcher parking garage, but has now expanded all across Ann Arbor, bringing in the participation of a wide range of other Ann Arbor businesses and business owners. The summer festival even pairs with specific local social service agencies through their Good Neighbor Ticket Program to ensure that locals from every part of the city can attend these wonderful events.

“We have a very local following, whether it’s people that are coming back and volunteering, or people that have been attending the shows for 20 years. We manage to have an amazing ripple effect in the community.”

Some the highlights of this year’s festival include the Retreat Series, the Kids Zone, tons of cool spectacles that are bound to wow you, and so much more. There are also countless bands/groups performing on stages across the city every night, as well as the “under the stars” movie nights that happen right in North Ingalls Mall.

Every year, the A2SF successfully provides a huge variety of performances and attractions that aim to please, no matter what your taste is. After getting the chance to talk to Nesbitt, as well as attend parts of the summer festival myself, it is clear to me that this year is no different! I hope that this timeless tradition can continue on, growing even more, thriving, and touching an increasing number of lives each year.

~Natalie White (Director of Social Media)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Brand Spotlight: Patagonia Sundresses

For me summer is synonymous with sundresses! Every year I look forward to adding a Patagonia dress or two to my collection.

During the dog days of summer, I am happiest in a cute dress for several reasons:
  • They are comfortable.
  • They let me be active.
  • I look pulled together without trying, because all I actually did was pull a dress over my head.

With so many outdoor festivals in Ann Arbor dresses are a great go-to piece. I often ride my bike to Top of the Park in a sundress with shorts underneath. It kind of makes me feel like an 8-year-old — in a good way!

One of my favorite styles this year is the Patagonia West Ashley. It is a soft cotton knit with a fun print in either green or blue tones. Don’t let the way it looks on the hanger fool you, the cinching elastic at the waist gives it a flattering drape and the cutout in the back gives it that touch of extra interest.

Another dress I am digging this season is the Kamala Maxi Skirt. This is extra versatile because you can wear it as a strapless dress or as a skirt. It is roomy and has a festival vibe to it.

Finally there is Margot. The Margot has been a mainstay of the Patagonia collection for several seasons. The faux wrap bodice and to-the-knee hem flatters a variety of body types. In the past I have worn it on a lazy farmer's market morning with flip flops, or dressed it up and wore it to dinner with strappy sandals, and even to a garden wedding with wedges.

This list is just a sampling of all of the dresses that Bivouac carries in the Women’s Tech department. We also have a large selection from other top quality outdoor brands such as prAna, Lolë, Toad and Co., The North Face, and Kuhl. Drop in soon while we still have a full selection of colors and styles!

~ Krysia Hepatica, Women’s Tech Buyer and Marketing Manager

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fashion Meets Function

Finding a man who genuinely enjoys wearing business clothing everyday is like finding the sun in Michigan; it happens, but not often enough. All across the world have men suit up (literally) daily in stiff, unbreathable fabrics regardless of the weather or their body type. On an 85 degree day I can’t imagine that they feel anything but discomfort.

Fortunately, newer brands like Mizzen & Main and State & Liberty have recognized this problem, and decided to do something about it.

“We are tradition evolved.”

This motto decorates the top of their “about” page, exemplifying their mission to take the classic business style and fit and push it to the next level to fit the needs of today’s men with today’s apparel technology. There are four major benefits to their dress shirts:

  1. Their shirts are made perfect for an athletic build to help avoid any awkward fits that some other over-tailored shirts might have. There are few things worse than putting on a shirt and having it fit in the torso but not the shoulders or vice versa, so avoiding that problem altogether with a superior athletic fit is great.
  2. The four way stretch material directly supports the athletic fit by helping the shirt to move the same way that an athlete would. The result is an ability to move and stay comfortable all day long without your clothing holding you back.
  3. The moisture wicking technology in the fabric eliminates one of summer’s biggest problems: sweat stains. On a hot summer day, sweat stains tend to shoot your confidence in the foot only a few hours into the day, and they can be almost impossible to do anything about. Luckily Mizzen+Main dress shirts are made specifically to serve you no matter the weather.
  4. These shirts are machine washable. I repeat, they’re machine washable. Dry cleaning is inconvenient and expensive, but not washing your dress clothes often is unavoidable. The material in these shirts solves this problem, and deletes another thing from your to-do list.

*this photo is the property of Mizzen and Main

While their dress shirts are their first and most popular line, Mizzen+Main also offer a nice variety of polos, pants, outerwear, and t-shirts, so that you can complete your wardrobe for weekend days too. They’re fast becoming a favorite of tons of professional athletes...and pretty much anyone who tries their clothing on.

*this photo is the property of Mizzen and Main

When the company is created by two Michigan grads you know it’s gotta be good. After becoming frustrated with dress shirt after dress shirt that didn’t fit quite right, the two creators of State and Liberty decided to design the best shirt for people who are athletically built. Their shirts have a great tailored fit, but leave a little extra room in the shoulders, chest, and arms, so you don’t have to stop lifting to fit into them.

*the creators of State & Liberty (this photo is the property of State & Liberty)

There is no shortage to the advantages that these shirts provide, so I’ve come up with a list of 10 reasons you should wear State and Liberty.

  1. They are temperature regulating, which means no more hot summer days at work.
  2. They are odor resistant, so you’ll never have to apologize to the person sitting a little too close for comfort on the subway.
  3. They’re a local brand, so you could stand on the corner of state and liberty while wearing State and Liberty.
  4. They’re wrinkle free, so you’ll look professional no matter what your day has in store.
  5. They have four way stretch to make them comfortable all day long.
  6. Did I mention that these guys went to the University of Michigan???
  7. They are moisture wicking to prevent those pesky sweat stains that happen to the best of us.
  8. Pro athletes are loving these shirts, and that means we should love them too.
  9. They are handcrafted, making them more unique than most of the dress shirts out there.
  10. We sell them! If that’s not enough of a reason I don’t know what is.

*this photo is the property of State & Liberty

These two brands have acknowledged one of the biggest problems in all of fashion: uncomfortable clothing. And then, they decided to do something about it. By combining fashionable and well-tailored designs with functional fit and material, they have created a new style of clothing that is not only professional, but also smart. It’s so smart it’s almost frustrating that it hasn’t existed before this.

~Natalie White