Review: BOB Revolution SE

After buying our Chariot CX1 (see my review), I took one look at it’s size and realized that I would probably need something a bit smaller and easier to pack into my trunk for quick outings with a newborn.  Enter one of my good friends who was done with her BOB and offered to sell it to me at a great price (thanks L!).  I knew my friend put a lot of research into her decision to buy the BOB so I felt confident it was going to be a good stroller.

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool on our trip to Las Vegas at 3 months old. Not old enough to use the seat, but it worked well as a portable outdoor bassinet. With supervision of course :)

What I used it for & at what stage:

  • 0-3 months (winter): occasional walks outside & walking indoors on cold days, travel
  • 3-6 months (spring): rarely used during this time as E was too small for the seat but didn’t like being in her carseat
  • 6-9 months (summer/fall): occasional walks outside, some small trips around town, travel
  • 9-12 months (fall/winter): occasional walks outside, some small trips around town, travel

Things that I loved:

  • The suspension makes for a very smooth ride and it turns easily with the front wheel unlocked
  • The quick release for the front wheel is easy to use (though I only found it necessary to do this when I had other things I needed to pack in my trunk as well)
  • The cupholder attachment is great! It holds two beverages and has a zippered compartment for keys/phone.
  • Travels well.  We’ve taken it on two trips and had no issues with parts breaking or being damaged.  And this is after the stroller was used by another family before us for everyday use & regular travel.
  • Opens and folds easily once you get the hang of it (it’s quite fun to pop open with one hand!)
  • Sunshade is very generous and will block most of the sun
  • There’s a weather-proof window you can open on top of the sunshade to check on baby
  • No need to switch wheels between jogging & strolling.  There’s a simple latch you flip to lock the front wheel.  This is great for vacations as you can bring one stroller for walking and running.
  • The seat reclines flat to let baby nap, though we didn’t use this often.
  • Pushes easily on well-packed snow or smaller amounts of fresh snow but … (see below)
Checking out Red Rocks with our sturdy travelling BOB!

Checking out Red Rocks with our sturdy travelling BOB!

Things that didn’t work for us:

  • The cargo bin at the bottom is a little small.  My diaper backpack was about all I could fit down there (~20 L bag) and I’d have to squeeze it in if it was stuffed full.
  • It takes up much less trunk space (folded) than the Chariot but it still felt bulky and heavy
  • I noticed that on several other brands of strollers, when you click the carseat in, the sunshade can be pulled down to meet the sunshade of the carseat to block the sun/wind/snow.  On the BOB, the sunshade will pull down, though not far enough to provide good coverage.  This may have to do with my carseat (Chicco) as well as the stroller, though.
  • You can only run with this stroller once the baby is old enough to use the seat (~6 months for us).
  • It’s not possible to have the seat as upright as that of the Chariot and the 5 point harness is harder to adjust than the Chariot
  • Though the wheels are larger and you can push the BOB through snow in the winter, there is a limit to how much it can handle while still giving a smooth ride and being easy to push (though you could get around this with these cool stroller skis -> Polar Stroller)

Accessories

(yup, they have to be bought separately)

  • Cupholder attachment
  • Bucket seat attachment (different for every brand of carseat)
  • Weather shield, bug net, UV shield – I never bought any of these as the Chariot has all of this integrated in it but I thought it was worth a mention that you can buy them.

Would I buy it again?

Yes and no.  Given that I knew I was buying a Chariot, a brand new BOB would have been very pricey second stroller especially when the features I’d be paying the money for are mostly covered by a Chariot.  That being said, a secondhand BOB was a great choice for us as it gave us a sturdy second stroller to take on trips that we could still get outdoors and exercise with.  If I could go back in time, I would absolutely buy our second hand BOB again.  Buying used is an excellent option if you’d like to have a sturdy second stroller but don’t want to pay full price.

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Review: Chariot CX1

Before having a baby, Chariot was probably the only brand of stroller I could identify as I had seen so many of them in town and on the trails in Canmore and Banff.  To me, it seemed this was the obvious choice for an outdoor parent.  Now that I’m the proud owner of one, I thought I’d share my views on how owning a Chariot worked out for us (spoiler alert – it’s awesome!)

Yes, I am strolling down the middle of the road! If you're in Calgary, a fun spring outing is to cycle/stroll/run down any closed road in Kananaskis before the winter gates open.  This is past Elbow Falls but you can also do this at Highwood Pass.

Yes, I am strolling down the middle of the road! If you’re in Calgary, a fun spring outing is to cycle/stroll/run down any closed road in Kananaskis before the winter gates open. This is past Elbow Falls but you can also do this at Highwood Pass.

What I used it for & at what stage/time of year:

  • 0-3 months (winter): occasional walks outside
  • 3-6 months (spring): jogging and walks
  • 6-9 months (summer/fall): jogging & walks
  • 9-12 months (fall/winter): jogging, walks & skiing

*We didn’t use the bike attachment during the summer as we felt E was too young and preferred to hike

Things that I loved:

  • It’s a very smooth ride for baby because of the large wheels and (adjustable!) suspension
  • The handbrake was extremely handy when running or walking down steeper hills
  • There’s no need to buy separate sun shields, weather covers or bug nets.  It’s all part of the package!
  • The plastic side panels unzip to allow for a breeze through the stroller.  Great for temperature control!
  • In cold weather, with all the plastic weather covers on, the inside stays very warm.
  • The “trunk” in the back is huge and can store a ton of stuff. It can be folded up for running but I found I was able to run with it down.
  • There is an infant sling you can attach for young babies.  While she was <6 months, E loved the infant sling in the Chariot and preferred it to her carseat clipped into the BOB
  • 5 point harness is very easy to adjust and the seat is comfortable for younger babies to sit in (we used it from 6 months up)
  • Very comfortable for running as there are lots of places to hold the handle bars
  • Pushes easily on well-packed snow or smaller amounts of fresh snow but … (see below)
Right after running our first race!

Right after running our first race!

Things that didn’t work for us:

  • It’s heavy, large, and needs to be taken apart to some degree to fit in cars.  I have a Subaru Forester and to fit in the trunk, I’d have to fold it down and remove both the jogging wheel and handle bar.  Otherwise, if I put down one of the backseats I could get it with just the jogging wheel removed.  Because of this I only put it in my car when I was doing an activity that I needed the Chariot specifically for (ie jogging, winter walks, skiing)
  • While it’s awesome you can unzip the side panels for ventilation in the summer, it also means you lose any sun protection on the sides and sun can get in baby’s eyes (this is a minor complaint and easily fixed by draping a blanket over the side).
  • The handle bar & wheel are removable but not the easiest to remove.  While this means it takes a few more seconds to put together/take apart, I do appreciate that it means the stroller is VERY sturdy when put together.  Just don’t expect it will be as easy to collapse as other strollers, though you will get faster at it over time.
  • There’s no good spot to put a coffee mug.  Yes you can buy a cupholder attachment but no, it’s not convenient to attach or use
  • Though the wheels are large and you can push the Chariot through snow in the winter, there is a limit to how much it can handle while still giving a smooth ride and being easy to push (though you could get around this with these cool stroller skis -> Polar Stroller)

*Note: there is no way to attach an infant bucket carseat to the CX unlike other strollers.  While this may be a negative for some, my daughter never liked sleeping in her bucket seat while on walks so it wasn’t an issue.

Accessories

(and yes, you have to buy them all separately)

  • Infant sling – needed if you want to use the chariot before baby is sitting independently (~6 months)
  • Bike attachment
  • Ski attachment
  • Baby bunting bag – bought this but never used it, and wouldn’t recommend purchasing
  • Stroller wheels – we bought these but rarely used them, instead preferring to walk outside with the jogging wheel
  • Jogging wheel
An (over) bundled baby on her first Chariot walk.  Mountains in the distance made for good motivation and excellent views :)

An (over) bundled baby on her first Chariot walk. Mountains in the distance made for good motivation and excellent views :)

CX1 vs CX2 vs other models

There are several models of Chariots available but the main ones we considered were the Cougar, CX and Chinook.  The Cougar and CX are very similar except the Cougar doesn’t have side panels that unzip and has no handbrake.  This was the reason we chose the CX as we wanted those features.  We didn’t like the Chinook as it seemed to be geared towards more of an urban lifestyle and was heavier.

While it was recommended to me to look at buying a double chariot (in case of a second child, for more room, etc), I’m happy with my choice of the single.  I found it was quite large and heavy to lift (though worth it!) on it’s own, without adding the weight and bulk of a double minus having second child to fill the seat.

Would I buy it again?

Absolutely!  If you’re an outdoor family who plans on jogging, biking and skiing with your child, this is the stroller that does it all and does it very, very well.  Though there are a few things I didn’t love about it, they were minor in the long run compared to how well it performed.  Depending on your lifestyle you may be able to get away with this as your only stroller though likely you will want a second stroller in which you can snap your infant bucket seat or a less bulky umbrella stroller when they’re older.

If you have any questions about the Chariot please feel free to ask! I’d also love to hear if there’s anything in particular you liked or disliked about your Chariot.

 

How to wash really dirty down jackets

I decided to finally tackle the project that is washing my 10+ year old white Columbia down jacket.  When I first got it,  I had never heard of technical washes (did they even exist then?!) so my poor jacket only got washed once a year with Tide in a top-loading machine.  The end result was a lot of dirt in high friction areas like the collar, cuffs, zipper and arms that never washed out.

I knew a capful of down wash wasn’t going to cut it now, so I asked around on twitter if anyone had any ideas.  Blue Dawn detergent and peroxide were suggested by @thehighandlo and @JenOfTheNorth.  This reminded me of a stain removal recipe that I had tried a while back with great success on stubborn armpit stains.  Turns out it works just as well on down, and my jacket looks almost brand new again!  Here’s what I did:

1. Mix up drugstore hydrogen peroxide, blue dawn dish detergent and baking soda.  I used roughly 1 part baking sode: 1 part Dawn: 2 parts peroxide.  I don’t think the exact proportions are the key to this, just that you get it into a liquidy paste you can rub into your jacket.

2. I used a kitchen scrubber with bristles to work the mixture into the areas with stains.  I was very liberal with the application and had to make several batches to thoroughly soak all the stained areas.

3.  I let the mixture sit for 30 minutes then rubbed more of the mixture into each area and let it sit for another 30 min.

4.  Before I washed the jacket with my Patagonia down sweater, I wanted to rinse the mixture off. I tried rinsing it under the sink but due to the number of stains I had treated, it was too time consuming and messy.  So I ran it through my front loader on a pre-set short cycle with no detergent.

5.  After the rinse, I washed all my down products together with technical down wash according to the instructions on the bottle.

Clean cuffs!

Clean cuffs

Clean arms and zipper

Clean arms and zipper.  I wish I had taken ‘before’ photos but I never expected this to work so well!

Note: I’ve only ever tried this on white or cream items so if you want to try this on anything coloured, I would test it out first on an inconspicuous area.

Another note: On the stain removal topic, if you have any stubborn grease stains on regular clothes, Goo Gone does a great job of removing them no matter how old.  I’ve used this on coloured fabrics as well and never had an issues with discoloration!

Ice climbing, avalanche risk & gear love

Living near a mecca of ice climbing, this winter I decided to try a multi-pitch ice climb. I called my partner in crime who is also the only girl I know crazy enough to join me, and we picked a weekend for our adventure.  We’d both done some top-roping before and were really psyched to try something new.  Neither of us can lead ice so my good friend and guide Patrick got the honours of leading us ladies (no pun intended – haha).

The problem with planning things in advance is that mountain weather runs on its own schedule.  Checking the forecast I could see that a perfect storm was brewing for avalanche conditions.  By Friday night Patrick confirmed what I had been thinking, plans were going to have to change.  It’s always a little disappointing when things don’t work out the way you envisioned, especially when you can’t wait around indefinitely for better conditions.  Thankfully Patrick had a wicked backup plan in mind and really, any climbing is great when you’re with friends!

Avalanche risk

I joked that next time I pray for an epic weekend, I’m going to have to start specifying which part I want to be epic!  Apparently the Rockies are experiencing a “once in 30 years” avalanche cycle;  the Trans-Canada highway was closed for 5 days, there were 3 fatalities over the weekend and many unusually large avalanches were reported.  Having recently taken an avalanche safety course, I had a good appreciation for how bad conditions were and was glad Pat had able to find somewhere safe for us to climb.  The mountains will always be there and you want to make sure that you will as well!

Ever seen something like this? It's from the Banff NP avalanche bulletin.

If you’re going out in the Rockies this winter be sure to check the avalanche bulletins first.  Another great resource is @ParksMtnSafety (Banff National Park) or @KCPublicSafety (Kananaskis) on twitter.

Climbing on …

We headed to the Junkyards in Canmore which most people know as a top-roping area.  There’s actually a lot more to it and  we spent the morning practicing moving up and down as a group of three.  In retrospect I think it worked out well because the next time we climb together, we’ll be that much more efficient.  There’s a lot more to seconding than just cleaning draws/screws and the better you are at it, the better your climbing experience will be.

The mixed climbing is to the left

After, we tried a mixed climbing which is something I’ve been wanting to do as it’s always intrigued me.  Watching Patrick climb the mixed route was like watching a beautifully choreographed dance.  Me … not so much.  Trying to place crampons and axes on snow-covered rock and thin ice is very different from rock or ice climbing but the challenge is strangely satisfying.  One piece of advice? – don’t swing your axe, place it gently.  Whack the rock once and you won’t need any reminders not to do it again!

My gear

I’m always interested in knowing is what other people wear ice climbing and what does or doesn’t work so that being said, here’s what I wore and some suggestions:

  1. Footwear: Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX mountaineering boots (plus wool socks/Superfeet insoles). I’ve only worn these boots twice but they have been great so far & very warm.
  2. Bottoms: Light synthetic leggings & waterproof insulated ski-pants.  Unless you have a death wish for your ski-pants, wear gaiters or get a pair of tighter fitting pants.  Speaking from experience, crampons will catch on your pants if they’re too baggy.
  3. Top: Synthetic tank top, merino long sleeve shirt, synthetic long sleeve shirt, Patagonia down sweater & hardshell.  All in that order. It might seem like overkill on the layers but both my girlfriend and I wore roughly the same thing and neither of us felt too cold or too hot.
  4. Belay jacket:  First Ascent mountain guide hooded down jacket.  I wore it over my hardshell in the morning when it was cold then packed it away as it warmed up.
  5. Hands: I love my thin waterproof mittens and wanted them to work so badly but I’ll concede, gloves would have been better.  Nothing sucks more than trying to clip or unclip a draw and getting your mitt stuck in the gate.  Mittens are fine to belay in but I’d rather climb with thin softshell gloves.  If you’re just top-roping, thin mitts would be fine though.

Patagonia simple guide pants

For the first time in a while, Calgary’s weekend forecast involved sun and warm weather.  With my climbing buddies either busy or sick, I decided to go on a hike. The hike turned out to be a little crazier than expected and my Patagonia simple guide pants saved my butt (literally).  This got me thinking I should write a review of them – also I was inspired to do a gear review by @lizzy_t’s recent review of her Patagonia rock guide pants.

Destination for the day was Mt. Yamnuska, one of the first mountains visible from the highway as you drive towards Banff.  It has sheer cliffs on the front that are a mecca for multi-pitch climbs and also a scramble around the backside up to the summit.

Yamnuska

As we hiked up the mountain and crossed over to the backside the wind got progressively worse.  Further up the wind became so strong that I had to start sitting down when I heard it coming lest I be knocked off balance.  During one such “rest stop” the wind actually yanked my sunglasses off my face and tossed them down the scree slope.  That would be the second pair of sunglasses claimed by the mountain that day!

I should mention that the wind probably felt worse for me than for others as I’m short and on the smallish side.  This is where my pants came in handy.  When I heard a gust of wind coming I would get low to the ground or sit down to avoid feeling off-balance.  This involved a lot of scraping of my lower extremities on sharp rock.  Several times I had to check that my pants hadn’t ripped.  Not only did my pants survive the trip, but after a washing they look exactly as they did when I bought them in February with no rips or scuffs.  Thankfully this means my legs weren’t scraped up as the pants took the abuse instead!

I bought my pants initially on recommendation from a colleague and I love them so much I’ve returned to Patagonia to buy pants for my husband.

Patagonia Simple Guide Pants

Pros

  • Water-resistant even after several washes
  • Pockets are well located – you can actually put items in the pockets and it doesn’t restrict your movement
  • Windproof – most times you don’t need long underwear as they block the wind well
  • Rugged – not sure what it would take to rip these but I have yet to damage mine and they have been taken out several times on rough terrain
  • Fashionable – maybe this is a girl thing but I like to look good even in outdoor clothes.  I’ll always put function before fashion but these achieve both
  • Slim fit means the bottoms don’t drag on the ground.  Side benefit is that they stay cleaner as there is less fabric around your ankles to catch/rub/drag on anything
  • Breathable – even when it’s warmer out, I don’t get sweaty in them despite the fact they’re black

Cons

  • Color – currently the only choice is black.  For me, it hasn’t been an issue as it doesn’t really get that hot where I tend to go.  If I planned to wear them in warmer climates, that may be a consideration.

Summary/Comments:

I don’t own rock guide pants but in comparison to my husband’s, the simple guide pants seem designed to withstand more rugged conditions as the fabric is a little heavier.  Also they do have a slim fit so I find that wearing long underwear with them can make things a little snug – though that may be different for each person.  If you’re planning on wearing these with long underwear I would bring a pair to the store to try on with the pants to ensure it’s not too tight underneath.

Overall I’ve been impressed with these pants and with the customer service at Patagonia’s stores.  Their employees have always been friendly and knowledgeable in helping me pick out the right thing.