Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Brand Spotlight: New Kiehl's Products

Between paper writing, daily sun salutations, and campus jobs, it seems almost impossible to find time for a healthy skincare routine. However, that is exactly why self-care is necessary—just because you’re running on coffee and two hours of sleep doesn’t mean your skin has to show it, right?

The not so secret solution at Bivouac is Kiehl’s, and we are loving their brand new products. The most recent launch is the Nightly-Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate. This is perfect for you if you want a quick and efficient defoliant. Use this concentrate nightly to speed up the cell turnover process to have restored radiance by morning. Over time, your skin texture and tone will be refined and your fine lines will disappear.

This product is perfect for even the most sensitive of skin. All you do is apply one drop of the concentrate  onto cleansed and toned skin before you moisturize.

The key ingredient is Quinoa Husk Extract sourced sustainably by Kiehl’s from 13 communities in Bolivia to prevent over-farming and depleting the soil of its nutrients. This is product is not only amazing for your skin but also great for the environment.

Tip: Use along with the Midnight Recovery Concentrate for maximum radiance.
If you have more time and are looking for more of a spa-like experience to exfoliate your skin, and are looking for an extra boost of energy, the new Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque is perfect for you. This mask brightens and energizes the look of dull and tired skin to restore a healthy and rosy appearance.

This product contains the natural ingredients of turmeric and cranberry seed extract, which team up to provide the skin with necessary antioxidants, improve the brightness of skin, and provide natural exfoliation.

I love using this mask on Monday mornings to start the week off right or any day I need an extra boost of radiance. This mask is best used on cleansed and toned skin. You apply a visible layer to the skin and allow to dry for five or ten minutes. I always apply the mask and brush and floss my teeth to be time efficient in the mornings. Then, my favorite part, you rinse with warm water and gently massage the skin to allow the cranberry seeds to exfoliate the skin. Recommended for use up to three times per week.

To maximize brightness, pair this product with the Daily Reviving Concentrate!
This last mask I would recommend to anyone that lives in a busy city like Ann Arbor. The Cilantro and Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque defends and replenishes to reduce the visible effects of pollution such as dullness and not only leaves the skin protected, but radiant and renewed as well.

The natural ingredients of Cilantro and Orange extract help replenish the skin’s barrier and add the necessary antioxidants to protect the skin by blocking the damage caused by pollutants.

This mask is a night-time mask to be used up to three times a week (feel free to use with the Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radience Masque, just not both in the same day!). It should be used as the final, leave-on step of your nighttime routine. You apply a visible layer to skin and let the skin absorb the mask for five minutes. Then, tissue off, pat in excess, and leave a thin protective layer on skin. This will work into your skin overnight.

Make sure you make time to pamper yourself with Kiehl’s, your skin will thank you!
  • Bailey Jenkins (Assistant Manager, Women’s Fashion)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ultra Lightweight Cooking Systems

When backpacking, space and weight are determinant in how your body performs and feels, both at the end of day and the beginning of the next one. Carrying bulky gear makes your hiking days more challenging than they otherwise need to be. When considering possible ways to drop weight from your gear, lightweight cooking systems and accessories present one of the more affordable options when compared with the cost of ultra light tents and high end sleeping bags . There are a few things we carry in the store that I have personally tried out in a variety of circumstances, so I'm going to take this opportunity to describe how these stoves and pots perform in different scenarios.
MSR Microrocket:
At 2.6 oz. and designed with three folding legs, the Microrocket is a favorite of lightweight enthusiasts. The stove comes with a Piezo starter in case you forget a lighter or matches, and it can boil 1 liter of water within 3.5 – 4.5 minutes, depending on the type of pot used and, of course, the weather conditions. This compact cooker is super versatile, and allows for control that ranges from a simmer to full power without losing fuel efficiency. It can work for car camping trips as well, depending how many people are being served. The burner features mini wind screens to improve the efficiency of the flame, however an extra wind screen could come in very handy in open areas where the wind is blowing more intensely. ALWAYS REMEMBER, HOWEVER, THAT SYSTEMS IN WHICH THE BURNER SITS DIRECTLY ABOVE THE FUEL SOURCE CAN CREATE AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SCENARIO WHEN PAIRED WITH ANY WINDSCREEN THAT FULLY SURROUNDS THE SYSTEM. Windscreens that attach to the system above the fuel source and only protect the burner and flame are safe to use. I will discuss a windscreen like this later in this blog post.

Olicamp: Vector Stove + XTS Pot
We'll start with a look at the pot portion of this system, called the “XTS” (Xcelerator Transfer System). This fancy acronym simply means that a radiation rim on the bottom of the pot maximizes heat dispersion, directing all the heat towards the pot and reducing cooking time by 40%. Besides saving fuel and time, you are also saving some cash with this system compared to other similar mechanisms from Jetboil or even MSR's Reactor cooking systems. One thing that I always found tricky about using ultra light stoves is stability. Yes, they are super packable, light, durable, efficient, etc. However, they often present a significantly smaller support area for your cooking pots/pans.

Optimus Clip on Windshield:
Lightweight, hard anodized aluminum increases stove efficiency and substantially reduces fuel consumption. It fits every gas canister according to EN417 and pots with max. diameter 13 cm (5 in). Compatible with standard pots and high profile heat stoves.
Sea to Summit: X Set 21
I wanted to leave this particular system for the end. This is because it is probably my personal favorite for its practicality. Usually the greatest concern for backpackers about cooking systems is the space it takes up in the backpack. Old school thru-hikers used to carry a regular 1L pot attached to the outside of the pack, leaving the interior of the pack for other, less bulky gear. However, the weight and bulk associated with this size system is no longer an issue. With the collapsible option that Sea to Summit offers with their X-line, you have the choice to take a 1.4L X Pot, X-Bowl (22 fl. oz.), and X-Mug (16 fl. oz.) for a total weight of 14oz. The pot itself combines the heat distribution and fast boil time of aluminum with the flexibility of silicone, the lid also works as a strainer. When it is time to wrap up the camp site, it will fold back down to an inch tall “disc”. If your hiking crew consists of more than just you, there is also the X-Set 31, with a 2.8L pot and a couple of bowls and mugs as well.

There are always new options, and brands are always trying to improve the efficiency, weight, size, and materials used in cooking systems. However, it is my opinion that this category of outdoor gear has changed the least over the years when compared with the way backpacks, hiking boots, and apparel have changed and improved decade after decade. Their transformation has been huge compared to cooking systems and technologies. The industry has certainly been working to come up with ways of making fuel efficiency better, and I'd say the next challenge/goal is to come up with less harmful materials to use when developing new products, especially related to the residues of metal left on food, how to make product more durable (in a sustainable manner), and also ensuring that these systems perform more consistently in wide range of elevations and conditions.

-David Ames (Manager)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Trotting Around in Turkey Run State Park

Over the last long weekend I had the opportunity to hike in Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. This was the perfect chance to try out a bunch of the newest hiking gear that I purchased from Bivouac. I had on my Prana Halle pants which were amazing because of the quick dry and super durable material (I fell while climbing a bit and nothing tore!), my icebreaker bolt top, which in merino was great to ward off any chill and allowed for high visibility on the trail and quick drying when a bit of rain hit while on the trail, and my Oboz Yellowstone in B-dry. The shoes were the best thing I could ask for. They had traction where and when I needed it; they more than proved themselves “true to the trail”. The gear was amazing and worked out to my advantage throughout the entire weekend.

Hiking in Turkey Run State Park was amazing. It had scenic overviews and rock formations that I could clamor up. The park was founded in 1916 by the Indiana state park system. It is complete with a suspension footbridge over Sugar Creek  and a trail (#3) which hosts multiple ladders to traverse through the narrow deep gorges.  (see image below)
The park features were mainly formed out of sandstone, and as you hike deeper into the park you will come across Falls Canyon which consists of a series of canyons complete with a seasonal waterfall.
As it was a bit on the colder side, many of the waterways were frozen over so it made walking the trails a bit easier and less wet. Just watch your step! During the summer months, parts of the trails may be impassable due to high water, so I would recommend using trekking poles.
Turkey Run consists of eleven marked trails that run from ‘moderate’ to ‘very rugged’. The park is not meant for those that are looking for an easy day hike. The only drawback that I, as an avid hiker, could determine from this beautiful location was the fact that there is no backpacking or backcountry overnight stays  allowed in the park. Visitors either need to stay at the park inn or at the electric campsites.  If you are looking for an easy day of a few hikes or just to relax, the park offers fishing, and various other organized activities including bird watching, and stargazing. All in all, my weekend trip to Southern Indiana was a blast and the highlight of that trip was my visit to Turkey Run State Park in Marshall Indiana.