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Archive for June, 2011

Aerobie AeroPress Review – darn good coffee

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Before I dive into my Aerobie AeroPress review—complete with AeroPress instructions to ensure you use this magical espresso-maker to its potential—let me preface this with my coffee-drinking resume so you know I’m legit.

I’m pretty in to drinking coffee, especially since I’ve cultivated quite an addiction through the years. I just love the taste, warmth, smell and ritual of drinking a good cup of coffee each morning. I’m not a straight espresso drinker but I like my Americanos and lattes pure: no sugar, light cream. I’ve enjoyed everything from Turkish coffee to cappucinos in Italy to, yes, even Frappucinos and mochas from America’s coffee sweetheart. But when it comes down to it, my favorite brew is a standard Americano, and my favorite place to drink it is at home. Yet—in my pre-AeroPress days—I had trouble getting things quite right. My French press was always too bitter, my percolator cracked me out for a few hours, and friends’ coffeemakers I’d try were too weak, missing that rich espresso flavor. But then, one day, BAM! The AeroPress came my way—and it blew my mind. In a mere 30 seconds it brews some of the best espresso I’ve tasted: rich in flavor and full bodied yet easy on the stomach and nerves.

First off, the AeroPress is extremely easy to use and clean. I always dreaded cleaning my French press and percolator, often leaving the used grounds in the devices for a good 24 hours in my procrastination. With the AeroPress, once you press you’re left with a nice, tidy package (see LEFT PHOTO below) that you can just pop out into the trash by pushing the rubber plunger, which was blocked by a twist-off cap, all the way through. If you’re a reduce/reuse/recycler like me, you can even peel off the tiny filter (see RIGHT PHOTO below), pop off the “puck” of grounds, and then wash everything and reuse the paper filter.

AeroPress Instructions and Tips

Using the AeroPress is fairly simple, but there are a few tips and techniques that ensure the best brew.

1) Grind your coffee well. AeroPress recommends running your blade grinder for 20-30 seconds, or so that the coffee grounds are fine enough to stick to the sides.

2) Use 175 degree F water, not boiling. I like to boil the water, then let it sit for a good five minutes. Or sometimes I’ll boil the water, then pour it in my coffee cup to take the heat edge off fast and warm my mug up to boot.

3) Stir for 10 seconds before you plunge. It’s easy to forget this step, but don’t.

4) Use gentle pressure on the plunger. This is the secret. It should take you about 20-30 seconds to fully press. I like to give it a little extra push at the end, which imparts a slight foam on the top of the liquid.

5) Rinse everything (plunger, chamber, stir stick, cap and filter) right away (it’s easy) so you’re ready to go for round 2 (trust me, AeroPress coffee’s so good you’ll want a round 2).

To buy this amazing espresso maker, and read more AeroPress reviews and tips from our customers, see our AeroPress inventory at Tahoe Mountain Sports.

5 Under $50: July 4th Deals

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

America’s favorite holiday is just around the corner! We’ve rounded up these July 4th deals to help you have a fun and safe holiday, all for under $50 each.

1) North Face hoodie $39.95

The July 4th magic happens after dark… don’t get caught out in the cold watching fireworks. Grab this classic hooded pullover to stash on your boat or in your beach bag.

2) Light-up bouncy balls $11.95

Due to high fire danger in Tahoe’s dry climate, setting off your own fireworks is illegal. These light-up bouncy balls are a fun stand-in. Great for kids, dogs and even adults, these tennis ball–sized globes float, are water resistant and have replaceable batteries.

3) Mammut Burny Safety Lamp $14.95

Another Fourth of July essential, this safety light clips to any pack strap, hat band or handlebar to get you home safely. Two ultra-bright white LEDs lead your way, and one red light can be used when you want to keep your night vision or to use as a bike taillight.

4) Bamboo Bottle $24.95

Nothing beats drinking out of a glass. Whether you’ve got a cocktail, beer, coffee or water to bring along, this BPA-free container can host hot or cold liquid, and is great to keep your beverage of choice concealed and protected. The bamboo outer layer protects the glass from shattering, and looks classy too!

5) Beach mat and bag $14.95

This sea-grass mat folds out to 24 by 70 inches (pillow included) for a comfy seat or nap on the beach, then folds up into a 14-by-9-inch tote bag for the ultimate portability.

5 Under $50 is a monthly Tahoe Mountain Sports blog series dedicated to showcasing some of our more affordable products. Each month we pick a theme, then show you the gear. Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Eastern Sierra Weekend

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Who: Greyson, Matt and Adam

What: Eastern Sierra hikes and Bishop bouldering

Where: Mono Lake, Convict Lake, Bishop, Buttermilk Country

When: June 18 and 19, 2011

Gear: Bishop Bouldering Guidebook for route finding and directions (really helpful), Deuter Pace 30 backpack (perfect for day hikes and carrying climbing gear), a Nemo Fillo camping pillow (so comfy I’m going for the full luxury treatment next time, picking up a Nemo Astro Insulated and a Pillowtop) and plenty of Mammoth Brewing Company beer.

I’m in awe of the entire Sierra Nevada, but a certain sage-lined, 14,000-foot-peak-toothed aspect has captured my devotion over the last few years. Adam, Matt and I settled on last weekend to make our first non snow-centric trip down the Eastern Sierra of the season, and with a car packed to the gills with camping and climbing gear, we took off from the shores of Lake Tahoe Friday after work.


It’s Proven: You Sleep Better in a Hammock

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I was fascinated to read on NPR today (Why Hammocks Make Sleep Easier, Deeper) that sleeping in a hammock (at least the gentle rocking part of it) was recently found by Swiss researchers to be good for you! Awesome. Now you can not only pack ultra light when camping but trust that you’re getting one of the best sleeps possible.

According to their findings, the gentle rocking provided by a hammock makes you fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper, by increasing the length of non-REM N2 sleep and positive brain activity like sleep spindles. Just another reason to pack my Grand Trunk hammock!

If you’re in the market for a hammock, check out our lightweight Grand Trunk hammocks, great for camping and travel. They even make a Skeeter Beeter hammock with mosquito netting so that mosquito bites don’t mess up all that good sleep you’ll get.

Limited edition Kavu bags and Kavu wallets!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

We’ve got the latest, limited edition colors from Kavu, including bigger bags like the Kavu Rope Bag and the the Kavu Sydney Satchel that are perfect for toting your stuff around campus or at the beach.

The  Kavu Keeper is a great small purse for holding your essentials, and Kavu Wallets like the Kavu Big Spender are a great accessory.

*** SPRING UPDATE: Fresh from Kavu, we’ve got the 2012 spring limited edition colors in stock now ***

The Spring 2012 colors: Blue Leaf, Daisy Chain, Summer Bouquet, Tribal Print, Vintage Quilt

*** WINTER UPDATE: We’ve got the newest limited edition Kavu bag colors in all your favorite styles for winter 2011/2012 in stock now ***

Wild Winter, Harvest Floral, Gold Leaf and Arctic Bloom

*** The following is the original blog post from summer 2011 ***

The new, cool colors from Kavu are Pink Blossom, Lime Dot, Plum Garden and Turquoise Oasis, as seen here on our best-selling Kavu Rope Bag:

Pink Blossom, Lime Dot, Plum Garden, Turquoise Oasis

Check out all the Kavu bags and Kavu purses in the new limited edition colors here: Kavu Store

But don’t wait too long, once these colors are gone, they’re gone for good!

Kavu has been making core bags and purses for more than 15 years, and our sales are testament to the brand’s quality – Kavu Bags fly off our shelves!

With loads of pockets and durable cotton construction, Kavu Purses are built for function but don’t forgo fun – funky prints and modern solid colors are updated with each season.  Perfect for graduation gifts or getting ready for the next school year.

Kavu Rope Bag
Kavu Rope Bag
MSRP: $44.95
Kavu Keeper
Kavu Keeper
MSRP: $29.95
Kavu Seattle Sling
Kavu Seattle Sling
MSRP: $34.95
Kavu Sidewinder
Kavu Sidewinder
MSRP: $34.95

Thermarest NeoAir Review, and Nemo Astro too

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

The Thermarest NeoAir has had a lot of attention and awards since it came out, and for good reason. Simultaneously one of the lightest and most comfortable backpacking sleeping pads available, it’s been a huge hit.

This year, Thermarest came out with the NeoAir Trekker. But what’s the difference in the NeoAir vs. NeoAir Trekker? Our Thermarest Rep explains here:

Essentially, the NeoAir Trekker comes in at a lower price and has a more durable, less “crinkly” fabric, whereas the original NeoAir is lighter and has the metallic insulating liner to make it warmer.

What makes both of these pads so comfortable, besides the obvious 2.5 inches of soft cushioning, is the simple change to baffles that run from side to side, instead of head to foot, like so many other sleeping pads. This new design makes the pad feel wider and more even, not like sleeping on a pool toy.

But did you know, Nemo pads came up with the same idea at about the same time? Known for their inflatable tents, sleeping pads were a natural progression for this innovative company.

For campers and backpackers, the Nemo Astro sports 2.5 inches of air cushioning, a durable outer fabric, and a raised, pillow-like section at the head for extra comfort.

The Nemo Astro Insulated takes a more traditional approach to keeping you warm when compared to the NeoAir, using synthetic insulation inside the air chambers.

Don’t just take our word for it, the Nemo Astro Insulated was Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice this year:

“This is the only sleeping pad I’ll ever need—for my ounce-counting backpacking trips and my weight-be-damned, luxe car camps,” says one tester. That’s because the Astro combo is a pad system that allows you to strip it down or amp it up, depending on the trip. At its heart is a 2.5-inch, full-length mattress that’s insulated with open-cell foam and packs down to about eight by four inches. Alone, it’s as comfortable and warm (down to at least 15°F) as any pad we’ve tried, with a rugged, 75-denier polyester shell that fended off abrasion even on sandpapery slickrock. 

The Astro takes some lung power—and three to four minutes—to inflate, but the handy push/pull valve let’s you easily cap it for a breather. (You can also opt for the foot-powered Disco Pad Pump, which weighs 2.2 ounces and costs $40.) For trailhead throw-downs, basecamps, and drive-up campgrounds, slide the Astro into its Pillowtop sleeve. Made of open-cell polyurethane foam, it adds a pound and a half, a few inches of girth when packed, and an entirely new level of comfort.

The combo is like a portable mattress, a full 3.25 inches thick. “It turned our lumpy, rock-strewn trailhead campsite in Capitol Reef into a featherbed,” says one tester. And the price? It looks high, but consider this: If you were to buy a lightweight backpacking pad and a decadent car-camping mattress, you could easily spend more and not sleep as well.

For the ultimate in base camping or car camping luxury, Nemo has a Pillowtop cover to throw on your Astro pad, adding an inch of cushy foam and a soft jersey-finish microfiber top to your pad for a combination that can’t be beat for comfort. You can even throw it on a NeoAir or similarly dimensioned pad (20″x 72″).

So if you’re looking to get a great night sleep in the backcountry, no matter how rough, rocky or cold the ground, check out one of these great new backpacking sleeping pads at Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Black Diamond Skis 2011: What’s New

Monday, June 13th, 2011

This past winter, Black Diamond Skis stepped up their touring game with the introduction of the Efficient Series. This coming winter, the 2011–2012 season, Black Diamond skis are getting a new dose of power and science, with a full redesign and launch of the BD’s Power Series skis. According to the brand, the Black Diamond 2011 mission for this fall’s ski launch is to unite freeride power with backcountry-inspired agility. Drawing on their thirst for “ski-ence,” the melding of science and skiing, or bringing together function and freeride culture, 2011 Black Diamond Skis are rock solid and have some of the best graphics we’ve seen to boot.

There are 5 brand-new skis in the Black Diamond 2011 line, plus 4 major redesigns. Below, I provide a quick sneak peek at what’s new, along with some video footage I took at Outdoor Retailer of the BD marketing folks walking me through the line.

But if you’re a Black Diamond newbie, and Power and Efficient series mean nothing to you, take a look at this Ski Selector. It should give you a good idea of the two series, and which Black Diamond skis fall where.

Now on to the NEW! Here’s the run-down for the Black Diamond 2011 line, with most of the updates occuring in the Power Series. Black Diamond views rocker as a versatile tool, so you’ll find rocker and semi-rockered tips and tails on virtually every new model, except for the Warrant and Ember.

NEW: The Black Diamond Gigawatt (163-135-141) usurps the Megawatt’s title as the biggest, fattest Black Diamond ski. These full-rocker beasts cater to powder skiers, offering a longboard feel with big mountain stability. Yet they’re lively and responsive, with a quick edge-t0-edge that’s essential for such a large ski.

UPDATED: The legendary Black Diamond Megawatt (178 cm: 145-120-126) is redesigned with a stiffer tip, slightly longer contact length and a tighter turn radius to make tight tree runs and wide open arcs even more intuitive and fun.


Chaco Sandals Review: Adjusting Chaco Straps

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Chaco makes some of the best sandals around, but did you know they’re recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association? Pat, our Chaco rep, shows us why Chaco Sandals are so great for your feet, how to adjust Chaco straps on the Chaco Z1 and Chaco Z2 models, and proper Chaco sizing.

Here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, we think Chaco make some of the best hiking and river sandals out there, thanks to their pure Polyurethane construction that won’t break down, even in water, unlike some other materials. Vibram soles give them crazy-good grip wet or dry, and, as you saw in the video, the continuous Chaco straps give them a custom fit.

So if you’re still walking around in cheap flip flops this summer, do yourself a favor, and try out some Chaco Sandals today.

Sierra Valley’s Tour de Manure

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

In this Adventure of the Week, Tahoe City resident Laura Read takes us north to Sierra Valley for the Tour de Manure. Don’t let the name fool you, this quirky bike ride doesn’t stink.

WHO: Laura Read, Debbie Kelly-Hogan, Toni Rockwell, Colleen Conners-Pace, Diane Pang, Jojo Toeppner, Gerald Rockwell, Carl Toeppner and 200 other bicycle riders from Nevada and California

WHAT: Tour de Manure Metric Century Bicycle

WHERE: Sierra Valley, California

WHEN: The second weekend every June (this coming weekend!)

GEAR: sunglasses, helmet cam, Sol sunscreen, lightweight wind jacket

WHY IT’S SO EPIC: It is gorgeous, it is a gentle ride and it has great food at the finish-line party. Sierra Valley is like a little Montana. Turn north on Highway 89 from Truckee and drive back in time 30 or 50 years. The historic ranching communities were settled by the Italian-Swiss during the Gold Rush and are still operated by Maddelenas, Pasquettis and other founding families. Streams and meadows surrounding the ranches form habitat for red-wing and yellow-headed blackbirds as well as prehistoric-looking sandhill cranes, who nest in the valley every spring.

And then there’s the Tour. Unlike the agro century rides hosted all over the Northern Sierra that boast big mountain climbs, this is a gentle tour covering mostly flat terrain. It offers a 30-mile route and a 42-mile route, so it’s a great event for first-time tour riders and families to do together. The Tour is a fundraiser for the Sierraville Fire and Rescue Department, a volunteer outfit that spends its summers pulling crashed motorcyclists out of ditches, aiding people with medical emergencies and responding to forest and house fires. But the Tour is also a showcase for the quirky, enduring little businesses in the valley, including Los Dos Hermanos and the Red Pony in Sierraville When Pigs Fly BBQ, Pasquetti’s Silver Eagle Catering and Vicki’s Blue Moon Bakery in Loyalton.

What I love the most about the Tour de Manure is the camaraderie among riders. There aren’t thousands of riders, just a few hundred. Add to that the beauty, the fun party and the outrageous “charging bull” T-shirt that all riders receive, and you’ve got an event that is my absolute favorite.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, surf, climb or Northern California bike tour) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Rainbow Sandals Review and Tips for Breaking In

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Rainbow Sandals are some of the most comfortable flipflops we at Tahoe Mountain Sports have ever worn. Bob, our Rainbow sales representative, came by the store to walk us through this summer’s line and provide some tips for breaking in Rainbow Sandals:

Rainbow leather sandals, either with a single or double layer of EVA foam underneath, molds to your foot over time for a custom fit.

The Rainbow Double Layer gives your foot extra room to sink, so it’s further cradled and supported if you like to spend all day in your Rainbow Flip Flops. The Rainbow Single Layer, on the other hand, are so light and thin you feel like you’re barefoot — until you feel the protection on hot or rough surfaces. Breaking in Rainbow Sandals can be a painful and/or long process if you don’t do it right. Take Bob’s advice in the video and get your leather Rainbow Sandals wet when you wear them the first time. Some folks recommend steam from your shower and wearing them around the house until the leather molds to your foot.

If you want comfort out of the box without investing the time of breaking in Rainbow leather sandals, the Rainbow East Cape uses a memory-molded EVA top that’s also great if you’re in and out of the water.

Women looking for a Rainbow wedge style sandal should check out the Rainbow Twisted Sister, with a braided strap and all the same great comfort and fit of the rest of the Rainbow Sandals line.

All Rainbow Flip Flops are designed to last a long time with features like military-grade ballistic nylon webbing between the toes that won’t rip out, and high quality Rainbow leather straps and tops. That’s why they can offer the Rainbow Guarantee, in which the company repairs or replaces the sandals due to any manufacturing defects before the top or bottom wears through into the next layer.

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