I thought the term “mud season” was a bit of an exaggeration when I first moved to a mountain town. I remember thinking, “there isn’t really a season of mud, is there?” One overly eager mountain bike ride at the beginning of May was all I needed to learn why spring in the mountains gets its sludgy nickname: The trail was a mixture of snow patches and slick mud. I mostly walked the way back to the trailhead, and the riding I was able to do left me speckled with mud freckles all over. Whether you choose to wait out the melt cycle or head south for warmer weather and desert shenanigans, here are a few pieces of gear that I find come in handy during this temperamental changing of seasons.
Cotopaxi Teca Calido jacket
The Teca Calido jacket is an all-around great adventure jacket.
Spring can be such a tease. One moment it’s 70 degrees outside and the next it’s snowing and hailing. While it feels a bit overkill to have a winter coat with you, the Cotopaxi Teca Calido jacket is a great garment for the awkward transition from winter to summer. It’s a lightweight insulated jacket that provides just enough warmth for those chilly spring evenings but isn’t bulky like a traditional down layer. It’s also a bit of a jack-of-all-trades jacket and can be used for everyday life and less committing outdoor adventures. The shell is a repurposed polyester taffeta with a DWR finish and is surprisingly durable. I particularly appreciated having this jacket with me on a road trip through Arizona and Utah. It was the perfect warm layer for an evening hike to look at the stars, and there’s plenty of room for additional layers if things got even colder.
Is it my first choice for a gnarly expedition to bag the summit of the Grand Teton? No, I’d want something more breathable and lightweight. But for something like a tailgate apres after riding or an early morning hike in the desert it works perfectly. It’s also worth mentioning its price point: $150. Jackets—especially warm ones—can get pricey quickly. If you don’t need as many fancy bells and whistles and are on the hunt for something that gives a decent amount of bang for your buck, then the Teca Calido jacket might be a good option for your needs. A couple of other features worth noting is that the garment is reversible, meaning you get two jackets in one. I love that Cotopaxi went green with their construction by using 100 percent repurposed fabric and recycled polyester. Much of the jacket is made from leftover fabric from other Cotopaxi products, meaning that the Teca Calido gives new life to material otherwise headed to a landfill. Lastly, you have to love Cotopaxi's overall style. The color blocking design is pretty fun—that is if you’re into the retro outdoors vibe.
Mountain Hardwear Women's Dynama/2™ Ankle Pants
Camp in them, lounge in them, or rock climb in them. The Dynama 2 is built with a variety of adventures in mind.
If you took your favorite pair of joggers and combined it with a durable pair of climbing pants you’d get Mountain Hardwear's Dynama 2. They’re perfect for hiking, lounging around a campsite, climbing at the crag, and running errands around town. I’m a shorts kind of girl and try to avoid pants for most outdoor activities. But it turns out I only thought that way because I never had a pair of breathable, stretchy pants like these.
The fabric in particular is what sold me about these pants. They’re a lightweight nylon-spandex blend that breathes well when you’re breaking a sweat. Mountain Hardwear treated them with a PFC-free DWR finish, which gives you good baseline protection against a surprise rainstorm. For how lightweight they are, I was surprised by their durability—especially when I was scrambling over rocks while hiking in Arizona. Despite brushing against all kinds of sharp rocks and scratchy foliage, I still haven’t managed to get any snags or tears in them. The fabric is also incredibly soft and anti-microbial, which means you don’t need to feel guilty for wearing them a few days in a row. Lastly, it’s worth noting the fit on these pants. They’re not form-fitting like a pair of leggings, but not baggy like a pair of cargo pants. Instead, they’re a happy medium between the two and are stretchy in high movement areas.
Ducan High GTX Hiking Boot
Mammut thoughtfully designed these boots to be versatile and lightweight.
If there’s one activity we can do in the spring, it’s hiking. If you plan on doing a trek in the desert or any low lying trails, Mammut’s Ducan High GTX hiking boots will make your feet feel happy. My favorite part about these shoes is that they are incredibly lightweight. The women’s pair weighs in at 16.2oz, which makes a difference when you’re walking a long way. I’m a big fan of having ankle support in my hiking boots, but if you prefer something simpler the Ducan also comes in a mid and low ankle height version. Unlike most hiking boots, the Ducan has a mono-tongue that only opens to one side. The unique design keeps the boot’s tongue from moving side to side and provides a snugger fit for your foot.
The boot is also constructed thoughtfully. The upper part has a double-layer engineered mesh that helps keep it snug, is breathable and is also lightweight. There’s also a sneaky Gore-Tex membrane liner that does a good job keeping water out. Next, underneath all of that, is the “flextron” sole which is Mammut’s spring-steel sole. Steel isn’t the first material I'd use for a hiking boot, but Mammut added a corrugated steel sheet to the midsole because it offers additional support laterally. That extra support comes in handy in variable terrain or scrambling over rocks. Lastly, the final ingredient to this boot is its sole. Mammut opted for a Vibram sole that crushes on all kinds of surfaces: chunky rocks, loose kitty litter dirt, and slick grassy terrain.
If you’re on the hunt for a lightweight hiking boot that can be used for all kinds of adventures, then the Ducan High GTX is worth considering.
Step up your picnic game with Rovr’s handy Keepr caddy.
Picnics have become one of my favorite go-to activities if I’m stuck in town during mud season. It’s a great way to see your friends, especially when there’s nothing else to do but wait for the trails to dry out. If you’re looking for a way to impress that cute girl you met from tinder or convince your friends that you’re not a skid, Rovr’s Keepr cocktail caddy is the way to take your outdoor lunch to the next level. Think of the Keepr as a mobile bar, where you can store everything from cheese and crackers for that dank charcuterie you make, and your favorite bottles of Sierra Nevadas and Tin Cup Whiskey. The picnic basket carries like a pail and has a flat bottom so it won’t topple over. Inside you’ll find four organization compartments that can be adjusted to your liking. The basket itself is made with a leak-proof TPU and high-density foam, which does a good job of keeping your things dry and cool. If you prefer your drinks on the rocks, then you can load up the bag’s Icer which can carry up to 3 lbs of ice. The vacuum-sealed stainless steel container is water-tight and leak-proof, so there’s no need to worry about dry items getting damp.
All around, if you're an aficionado of apres and love wowing your friends then you’ll certainly put the Keepr to good use.
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