Yep, this is a product review post: some Kuhl active wear, (the shorts pictured above), as well as a Kuhl top and pair of pants, plus an Airbac Journey backpack.
And yes, it's a bit annoying when a blogger devotes a post to a bunch of pictures of herself wearing stuff she got for free and telling you what's good about them and what's not, but on the other hand...
Um, on the other hand....
Well shoot, at some point I'll figure out why it's not as annoying as it sounds.
So, what's the "sneaky"part?
Well, its not the Airbac review, there's nothing sneaky about that. I got an nice email asking if I'd like to test out a new kind of backpack designed to distribute heavy loads more ergonomically using an air bladder, and that sounded interesting, so I said, sure, send it the heck over and I'll lug some heavy sh-t around and see how it does! More on that below.
However, the Kuhl "review" is a different story.
Crabby Could Stand to Look a Bit More Kuhl
Some background: I am not an enthusiastic clothes shopper.
Anyone else? Or do you guys love buying clothes?
I hate going to a mall, hate that most things don't fit me, hate that the men's stuff is so practical but the women's stuff is so pointlessly irritating. I hate the dressing room lighting, the lines, etc, etc.
But one day at REI, I found a pair of Kuhl cargo pants that I loved. The black Splash Roll-ups.
They are incredibly comfortable, and have a TON of pockets and room to stash stuff. Women's pants are notoriously crappy about pockets, but these are awesome.
I was wearing them all the time. Laundry day was proving problematic! I found out that once you know your size via REI you can buy them online, and Kuhl doesn't seem to change the inventory every three minutes and stop carrying your favorite things like most retailers, so if you like something you can buy more without going to the mall, hooray! I was all prepared to do that.
However, in an unusually pro-active move, at least for a lazy blogger like me, I went begging to see if I could score another pair for free to "review" on the blog or even some other additional items.
Heh heh heh heh.
And, in a shocking development, it turns out I love the very same pants that I already loved! Who could have guessed?
Actually, I got a slightly smaller size the second time, since they loosen up a bit if you wear 'em around forever before you wash them, so I have one baggy pair and one that's snugger. They have tons of other pant styles too that look intriguing, and I suspect I'm going to be shelling out my own cash for more soon.
They also carry men's clothes too, which look similarly great, if you are a dude or have one in your life to buy for.
But I hadn't tried Kuhl's tops or shorts yet. Here's the deal on those.
A Rare Endangered Species: Women's Workout Shorts with Functional Pockets!
So these Kuhl Splash 5.5's may not technically be workout shorts, I think they are actually hiking shorts. But they are form-fitting enough not to chafe, partly because I wear them in an inappropriately small size for someone about to turn 53. But whatever.
My dilemma: I like to run, do the elliptical, go biking, hike around, etc with room for a walkman, a phone, a credit card, and a kleenex or two. Not possible with typical "running" shorts with no pockets.
But these rock in terms of what they can carry for a small pair of shorts! They've got two back pockets, two front pockets, and a zippered side pocket.
They have enough room to fit over the liner thing with the padded ass that I use for biking.
And I can play around in the basement gym, all quite comfortably!
Well, except for the exercise part. At least the shorts are comfortable.
Crabby finds a Top a Girl Might Actually Wear!
Yeah, this post is already too long for a digression about how butch my wardrobe tends to be, and why that is, and how come I don't give a crap anymore if anyone objects to that...but the main point here is that Kuhl has tops like the Ivia that are comfy and practical and machine washable and not too foofy, while actually looking... well...
Almost kinda girly!
Look at all that decoration stuff on the side!
An additional awesome feature I discovered is that you can take the shirt in a totally wrinkled state out of a suitcase, feel too lazy to do anything about it but hang it in the closet and frown at it, and lo and behold... by the next morning the wrinkles are gone!
And finally, What Did I Think about The Airbac Journey Backpack?
As mentioned above, Airbacks are constructed with fancy features, like an air bladder, to distribute the weight of a heavy pack in a way less likely to cripple you.
The Journey is one of the bigger, higher end models, and I gotta say, it does an excellent job of holding a lot of heavy stuff in the least miserable way possible.
I did a test comparing it to my smaller daypack:
And it was pretty much no contest when it came to hauling a 40 pound barbell around the room, should you have some weird need to do that. Were I a better blogger I would have taken it on a trip by now, but I didn't, but at least you know if you want to travel with barbells, this is the pack to get! The air bladder did seem to affect the way the weight was distributed and made for a lot less shoulder pressure.
The Journey has wide padded straps that are really comfy, a nice padded pocket for a laptop, water botttle holders, and lots of handy pockets on the outside of the pack and even a couple on the hip belt.
But fortunately, the inside is nice and roomy; they don't mess around dividing it up into dozens of compartments so that the backpack is already filled with dividers before you can even pack anything into it.
The one downside is that because it's got supportive hip and chest straps, and it's big, it's probably better for travel than for just taking your lunch and a sweatshirt in for a quick picnic in the park. If you don't strap in, there's a lot of dangly stuff.
Anyone else find shopping for clothes frustrating? Ever struggled with a backpack not designed to actually haul stuff efficiently?