Welcome to another edition of the MELSAYS PODCAST!
My guest for this episode is Sarah Leanne Hart. Sarah is a climber and she was MEC’s first ever ambassador, and still is to this day. She has traveled the world doing some epic climbs and is considered to be an “all-arounder”, climbing at an elite level, in different climbing disciplines. In addition to climbing, she also works as a facilitator for groups of women and girls. I had such a lovely time speaking with her at her home in Squamish a few weeks back, I hope you’ll enjoy our chat.
The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.
Packing for any kind of trip can be stressful so trying to pack light when going on an adventure trip can seem even more daunting. However, over the years, I’ve developed a pretty good packing strategy. Packing used to take me 1-2 hours + but now takes me 30 minutes at most. If I’m going on a super technical trip, I’ll start off by making a packing list but most of the time, I don’t even end up using it since it’s become such an automatism. Here are some tips for those of you hoping to improve their packing game!
1) Pick the right suitcase. I used to lug around heavy large suitcases but in the last two years, I travel with a carry-on suitcase 99% of the times. The main reasons being:
a) you always usually pack way more than you actually need so it forces you to pack smart
b) carry-on suitcases are free of charge on most airlines
c) light carry-ons are way easier to travel with especially when out adventuring
I’ve been using MEC’s Rolling Continent Carry On Pack because it’s the perfect combination between a rolling suitcase but can also be transformed into a backpack if needed. It’s also incredibly lightweight (only weighs 2.35 kgs) and is filled with tons of different pockets and compartments, helping keep your suitcase organized at all times.
2) Compartmentalize. The best way to stay organize and travel light when bringing tons of adventure gear is to divide everything up in different compartments. That way you can always know where all of your gear is and only bring the essentials.
I used to put everything in different bags but lately I’ve been using MEC’s Packing Cubes, that come in different sizes and colours. What’s key about these cubes is that they’re water-resistant, which is a must when you’re putting muddy or wet gear back into your suitcase after adventuring. The clamshell lid also allows for easy access of it’s content plus there’s a nifty little handle that helps with carrying or hanging. Plus, it helps keep your clothes wrinkle-free!
It’s hip to be square. Keep the contents of your luggage organized and wrinkle-free with this package of three lightweight packing cubes. They are also useful for keeping shoes and dirty laundry separate from the clean stuff.
3) Bring Layers. The best way to keep clothing and things at a minimum when adventure traveling is packing layers. No matter where I’m going, I’ll always bring with me both warm and cool clothing. I’ll focus on pieces that I can layer as depending on the weather and destination, the weather can change in a heartbeat. I also always bring a few pairs of warm socks (which I stuff in my shoes, so they take up less space!) I’m also one to pack 1 “fancy” outfit for any post-adventure dinners or potential outings. Layers also allow you to mix and match your clothing plus, the thing I’ve realized over the years is that you don’t need a different outfit for every day you’re away. I used to bring WAY too much clothing and realized most of it would go unused.
4) Essential Tools. Depending on what kind of adventure you’re heading out for, there are certainly a few essential tools that you will want to bring with you. If you’re heading out camping, hiking, trail running, a multi-tool will be your best friend. Bringing a backpack or water pack or trail running is also a must for almost any kind of adventure. A rain layer is a necessity no matter what you’re doing. I’ve been packing MEC’s Stuffit Long Jacket because it’s water resistant and packs up into its own pocket. If you’re going cycling, bring a tire repair kit, wilderness camping bring a water filter and a map/compass. I also always bring a headlight, whistle, ear plugs, waterproof dry bag, first aid kit, portable phone chargerand a bathing suit, especially if I want to go open water swimming.
5) A Good Pair of Shoes. The trickiest part of packing for me remains footwear. As someone who likes to trail run, hike as well as road run, do gym workouts, go to the beach, swim, surf, etc. footwear is always the trickiest part because it’s also the heaviest and what usually takes up the most space in a suitcase. I now always pack the following:
a) hiking shoes/boots (depending on the kind of trails I’ll be doing)
b) running shoes (either trail running or road running shoes)
c) sandals/flip flops (for the beach, pool or lounging around)
d) city shoes (heels, slip ons, etc.)
A few additional tips:
-wear your bulkiest/heaviest items if you can
-roll your clothes instead of folding them
-buy travel size toiletries or put them in reusable travel size containers (less than 100 ml)
This article was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.
Growing up, I always on the lookout for other like-minded girls and groups to join. I would have been thrilled to have been a part of a group like Sole Girls as a pre-teen and teenager.
Sole Girls is an amazing organization that via creative running games empowers girls ages 6 through 12. They provide them with tools to develop healthy ideas about body image, media, healthy living, peers and self-esteem. They offer weekly sessions, camps as well as workshops for these girls. They also organize events such as Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K for the entire family, with funds directly going to some of their scholarship programs.
Sunday, I had the chance to partake in their Sole Awesome 5K thanks to MEC and got to meet some of the most incredible young girls. It was a fun morning filled with both running and also super fun activities like 3-Legged Races, on-course obstacles, dance parties, and more! Every kilometre of the run highlighted one of the Sole Programs’ core values, which are: Support, Open-Mindedness, Listening and Enthusiasm.
In addition to Sunday’s events, Sole Girls have lots of programs and initiatives planned for the summer including their Summer Camps, which start in July in and around Vancouver, North Vancouver, South Surrey, Langley and Calgary.
There is no doubt in my mind that if I would have been able to join a group like Sole Girls, when I was younger, that it would have been such a huge help for me after my parents’ divorce. It would have been such a great support system and would have without a doubt helped me with my self-esteem and maybe even help counter the eating disorder I had during my teens.
I was really inspired by all of the positivity that radiated from all the girls present at Sunday’s Sole Girls that I’ve decided to become a Soleteer, a volunteer with Sole Girls! If this is something that might interest you or to find out more about Sole Girls, go here.
A big thank you to MEC and Sole Girls for allowing me to be a part of Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K, it was a truly memorable experience!
Since moving to British Columbia last year, I’ve learned a whole lot about the outdoors but one area that I still consider myself a newbie in is camping. That said, thanks to MEC‘s gear rental program, last summer I got my first taste of camping and was pleasantly surprised by how fun and easy the whole experience was.
As a girl who grew up outside of Montreal and then spent most of her adult life in downtown Toronto, camping was never a part of my life. Before moving to Vancouver last year, I 100% considered myself a city girl. Fast forward a few months later, I would say that I’m now close to being 50% city, 50% nature. There’s still so much for me to learn about camping and the outdoors but working with MEC and being surrounded by so many adventure enthusiasts has really taught me a whole lot about the great outdoors.
So I wanted to share with you today some of my newfound wisdom and tips for camping so that all you who want to give camping a go or who are still novices to camping, can have a great time!
1) Packing – One of the major differences between going camping and going to stay at a hotel or an Airbnb, is how you pack for a camping trip. There are so many more variables to think of and therefore packing for a camping weekend can be more complex but it really doesn’t have to be. If you’re simply going car camping for the weekend (and don’t have an RV or van to store all your camping stuff in), I would first suggest making a packing list. I would also suggest breaking that list down into different categories: clothing, sleeping, food, safety, entertainment, transportation, etc. This will help get you organized and can easily be cross-referenced as you’re loading everything into the car.
2) Gear – In my experience thus far, I have learned that gear can make or break your camping experience. If you’re a city person like me, chances are you probably don’t own very much or any camping gear at all. Thankfully, MEC has a great gear rental program, which is available across Canada that allows people like us to rent all sorts of amazing camping gear at a super reasonable rate for your upcoming camping trips. You can rent anything from tents, to sleeping pads, sleeping bags, backpacks, kid carriers, etc. You can even rent a canoe or kayak, if you’re thinking of portaging or even doing some water sports while out camping. Rentals are available either daily or weekly.
If you’re like me and hoping to have a ton of camping experiences this summer, you can also purchase some of the best and top of the line camping gear at an MEC store or even online. For someone like myself who spent most of their life in a city, walking into a MEC is like a kid walking into a candy shop. This week, I had the opportunity to try out MEC’s Cabin 4 tent, which was totally revolutionary for me. Not only was it incredibly simple to put up (even a rookie like myself was able to figure it out and put it up in under 10 minutes!) but it was also tall enough so I didn’t have to crouch when in my tent. I could easily get changed and stand up in the tent, which brings the comfort level up a big notch. I also used the MEC Reactor 6.5 Sleeping Pad, which is a super comfy self-inflating pad that makes sleeping in a tent that much more enjoyable. Goodbye uncomfortable sleeps! And did I mention my MEC Hut Booties? As someone who always has cold feet, these are a game changer!
3) Food – Camping food doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless. Thanks to all the options that are now available, cooking while in nature is easier than ever. There are lots of great ways make food while camping. If you’re not someone that likes to cook, there are plenty of dehydrated snacks or even meals that you can purchase in advance and just re-heat or add hot water to. There are many vegetarian and vegan options to choose from, so being plant-based while camping isn’t an obstacle at all.
It’s also important to make sure that you dispose of the food your bring with you or any waste you create while cooking or even camping properly. For more information, I highly recommend you check out this post here (which also includes lots of great other camping tips).
4) Safety – Though I have yet to learn everything about camping safety, there are a few key things I now keep in mind when preparing for a camping trip or going camping. Packing things like a whistle, bug spray, first aid kit, headlamps, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc. is important. Since I am now camping in BC, I’m also careful to not leave any food in the tent or close to my tent. I’ll keep the food stored in a sealed container if I’m car camping. I pack lots of water and additional snacks for hikes and runs and I also make sure that someone outside of my camping group knows where I am and how long I’ll be there for. It’s also important to respect wildlife. Though it may be exciting to spot eagles, deers, bears, chipmunks etc., on your adventures, it’s important to not feed them and give them their space, not only for our own safety but also for the safety of the animals.
5) Entertainment – Not sure if it’s the city that made me a restless person or maybe it’s just my personality but one of the things I struggle with the most in life is not being able to just sit still or relax. And with camping being all about relaxing and enjoying the outdoors, this definitely comes as a challenge for me. That said, there are many ways to stay entertained while camping and tons of things to do. If you want to be active, chances are there are some trails located close to your campground, so going for a hike or a trail run (like I did below at Golden Ears this past week!) is a great way to not only get some fresh air but also discover the area.
A lot of campgrounds are also located close to a lake, an ocean or even a river, so going for a swim or taking part in some water sports (kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, etc.) may also be a possibility.
If you’re someone that prefers to lounge a little more, reading a book fireside on a MEC Park Chair or bringing portable boardgames or outdoor games like Bocce Ball is another way to have a great time. The reason why I’ve been loving camping is because it forces me to ditch my electronics and in many ways makes me feel like a kid again, just being outdoors and finding creative ways to pass time.
I’m really excited to take my camping experience to the next level this spring and summer. I’m even thinking of going from car camping to trying out camping in the backcountry… Got some camping tips that I didn’t mention in this post? Share them with me below!
If you’re planning a camping getaway for the May long weekend or later on in the summer and want to get more info on the MEC gear rental program, go here. For more camping tips go here. For a full camp kitchen checklist, check out the following article here.
This article was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.
Traveling is a big part of my lifestyle, even since I’ve moved to the west coast this past year. My travels have taken me up and down the west coast quite a bit already and I’m looking forward to exploring even more in the new year. I wanted to share with you below some of my favourite travel accessories that I’ve been using lately. These are great gift ideas for the adventure travelers you know!
1) Saje’s Travelling Farmacy – This is one of the latest kits that Saje has released. It’s the ideal kit for those who travel as it contains all of Saje’s greatest remedies in miniature format. The Travelling Farmacy contains Peppermint Halo, Stress Release, Eater’s Digest, Immune, Pain Release, Quick Study, Energy and Sleep Well, all of which come in handy when you’re on the road.
2) Ucon Acrobatics Lotus Series Backpack – This backpack is the perfect travel companion. This Brandon Backpack from the Lotus Series is not only is it made fromphthalate free PVC but it is also waterproof. It also contains a 15“ laptop compartment on the inside and has tons of different pockets where you can store all of your accessories and gear while traveling. This 20L bag is also incredibly lightweight and robust making it not only great for flying but also for any adventure you may be going on during your travels.
3) TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller mini – This is the best foam roller for traveling hands down. It’s small and easy to pack in your bag and oh-so-useful when traveling. If you’re like me and you keep active while traveling, you want this guy in your carry-on or backpack, especially if you’re leaving for a long period of time. The TriggerPoint Foam Roller is crucial for muscle recovery, pain relief and improved flexibility.
4) Hydro Flask Water bottle – The one thing I cannot travel without is my reusable water bottle. I take it with me absolutely everywhere! Hydro Flask has amazing durable products that are great for travel and adventuring. The Hydro Flask 18 oz Standard Mouth bottle is always in my backpack. You can choose from tons of fun colours and different caps (flex cap, sport cap, etc.). They also have a full line of tumblers, coffee, food and wine containers that you can also purchase.
5) GoPro Hero6 – Though I just only recently got my hands on this new camera, I already know this will become a go-to when traveling. It’s the perfect lightweight and high-quality camera that you can use to document all of your travels and outdoor adventures with. From 4k video to slow motion, photos, time lapses and more, the GoPro Hero6 is sure to be able to follow you no matter what you get up to. Check for a full review coming soon!
6) Women’s Terradorra Wintershell Waterproof MID – These boots were my go-to all summer long. I brought them with me on every single trip I went on. KEEN has just released a winterized version of the Terradorra for these colder months, it’s a good boot for trails, powder and any kind of weather you’ll run into this winter. These boots are also completely waterproof, so they’ll keep your feet nice and dry.
7) Columbia Women’s Luna Vista Hybrid Jacket – This is a great jacket to layer underneath pretty much anything this winter. It packs light and keeps ultra warm. Great for those hoping to venture outdoors a lot during the colder months or just a great piece to relax in after skiing/snowshoeing or a long day of travels. The Luna Vista Hybrid Jacket comes in a variety of colours and is made from breathable and flexible material.
8) Pelican Marine Case – This case is ideal for all climates. Whether you’re going to the snow, the water or the desert, it will protect your phone no matter the elements. The Pelican Marine Case is waterproof, tested to survive multiple drops as well as scratch resistant. MEC has a bunch of similar cases for your phone, so perfect for the adventure traveler.
9) Black Diamond Spot Headlamp – Chances are if you’re going out adventuring this winter, one of these Black Diamond Headlamps will come in handy. Because the sun sets so early in the winter, it’s perfect for trail runs, cycling, hiking, snowshoeing and whatever other crazy excursion you might be going out on. The headlamp has 6 modes: white proximity, bright white distance, dimming, strobe, red proximity and red strobe. It also has an indicator that tells you how much battery there’s left in the headlamp.
10) MEC Hut Booties – These were a lifesaver for me this fall when I went out camping in Mount Baker. They’re super easy to pack and will keep your feet nice and toasty if you’re tent camping, van camping or they are even just the best thing to put on after spending your day outdoors adventuring. These MEC Hut Booties come in a bunch of different colours and sizes, so you’re sure to find a pair that fits.
Being a new cyclist in the greater Vancouver area, I’ve learned a lot about cycling around the city these past couple of weeks. So I wanted to share with you today, some of the things I’ve learned if you’re thinking of starting to ride a bike (even as fall rolls around!) or if you’re planning to rent a bike when you come to the city for a visit.
1) Bike lanes – Unlike Toronto, where I’m from, bike lanes in Vancouver are legit. Every bike lane is clearly indicated at the top of street signs. Some of the bike lanes are also painted in green, reminding drivers that they are not allowed on that area of the road. Additionally, a lot of the bike lanes here in Vancouver are separated either with cones, plants or even a cement median, thus protecting cyclists even further when biking around town. To get a full cycling map of the downtown core, go here and for the North Shore go here.
2) The hills are alive – If you’re like me and you’ve never really biked up hills before, be prepared to be doing a lot of uphill climbs. No matter where you are in the city or on the North Shore, the hills will have you sweating up a storm. That said, what goes up must come down, so the downhill rides are always that much sweeter. In all honesty, I’ve stopped or even walked my bike a couple of times when I couldn’t pedal anymore, it definitely takes some getting used to but it’ll make you that much stronger!
3) Relationship with cars – I’ve found that compared to a LOT of other cities across North America, a cyclist’s relationship with automobile traffic in Vancouver is a lot more pleasant (most of the time!) than it is in other places. There’s an awareness here that isn’t present in most parts of the country and because so many drivers are also cyclists, I think it makes a huge difference in their attitudes towards you and your bike. That said, buses and cabs are still the scariest, so definitely always be vigilant when riding around town. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is be VERY visible and loud. Invest in bright lights for your bike, a good bell and even a reflective vest or clothing. MEC has a ton of options for you to choose from, including the vest below.
4) You need rain gear – It’s inevitable, no matter how sunny it is right now, if you’re coming to Vancouver and planning on biking or hoping to bike well into fall and winter (which is very doable, as temperatures stay quite warm all-year-round!), you’ll want to invest in rain gear, or else cycling won’t be nearly as enjoyable. Since I’ve been commuting with my bike to and from work, I know that I will soon have to invest in proper slacks and jacket to protect me from the rain. Luckily, MEC has a ton of cool and reasonably priced items like these waterproof pants priced at $69 that can definitely do the trick.
5) Get to know your bike – I’ve never owned a brand new bike before and never really cared much for learning about bikes. But when I got my new bike from MEC, I was able to learn a ton about how my bike worked, how to take it apart, how to pump up its tires, etc. Whether your bike is fromMEC or not, you can easily bring it in the store and not only get a tune up and bike parts but also get some education about cycling and your bike in general from one of their store experts. MEC even has cycling clinics and events that you can register for (check them out here). That way, you can ride around the city having all of the knowledge necessary for a safe ride. Plus, in times of crisis, you can always resort to YouTube tutorials. I did just that the other day for my back tire and I got it all figured out.
Since hiking is everyone’s favourite activity here in British Columbia, I have also started going on a handful of day trips across the province. Your success as a hiker can definitely be determined by the gear your wear and bring with you so I wanted to share with you today some of my current hiking essentials for the summer and fall!
1) Camelbak Hydration Pack – I loath carrying around several water bottles with me when I hike, so getting the Camelbak pack was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It comes equipped with 2L hydration bag as well as tons of pockets and storage to put snacks, my phone, wallet, etc. This one also comes equipped with a whistle, which is a must when you live in bear country!
2) Saje Wellness Journey On Kit – This customized Saje kit is perfect for staying energized and refreshed during those long hikes. The kit comes equipped with deodorant, lip balm, lotion and their energy remedy. It also comes in a super lightweight bag that is easy to strap onto your Camelbak or backpack.
3) KEEN Terradora boots – These lightweight boots are a must-have for any short or long hike. KEEN specifically designed these boots having women in mind making sure they fit like a glove and can be used in all sorts of terrain. The boots are also breathable and waterproof.
4) MEC Aquanator Jacket – Because you can never be sure what type of weather you’ll encounter during a hike, this MEC waterproof jacket with fully taped seams is a great layering piece to bring along. It comes equipped with underarm zips for cooling as well as adjustable cuffs and hood.
5) Stance Socks – A good pair of socks is crucial when hiking for a long time. These StancePeak Hike socks are made with merino wool, polyester, cotton and nylon fibers that help keep your feet cool, pull moisture away faster and will last you hike after hike!
Some other must-haves include: a headlamp, trail poles, bear spray/bear bell, hat, etc.
Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.
Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!
Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!
What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.
Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.
The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!
Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!
For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.
This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.
Trail Running has always been on my bucket list of things to try out. Having recently moved to British Columbia, I thought that this would be the perfect occasion to finally give it a try. There are so many great trails located just a few minutes from downtown like the Grouse Grind, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Stanley Park, Rice Lake, etc.
Last week, with the help of a local friend, I did my first ever trail run. Trail running is unlike any sport I’ve done before. It’s one of the few activities that requires you to be 100% in the present moment, it’s like a meditation of sorts. It’s an activity that forces you to focus and work on your feet and eye coordination. You have to make split-second decisions about which way you’re going down and where to put your feet at all times. Also, because you are running up and down the entire time, it really gets your heart rate up and forces you to work on controlling your breathing.
The thing about it that I loved so much, was that unlike road running, you get completely lost in nature. You get to not only see some of the most beautiful viewpoints but also breathe in clean and fresh air and hear little to no noise.
Having good gear is key when trail running. You want to make sure you have the proper footwear that will support your feet and provide you with the right amount of traction. Wearing breathable fabrics and bringing with you some form of hydration and even a snack are key. Experienced trail runners will often go out on their own but it’s never a bad thing to be accompanied by someone who knows the area, if you’re going out for the first time. Other things like having a whistle, compass, phone, etc. are all great, as you never know what could happen while you’re out in the wild.
So if you’re like me and just easing into the sport, I recommend checking out MEC‘s website (here!) as they have run meet-ups, clinics and many races across all of Canada this spring, summer and fall. I am really looking forward to doing my first ever trail race this summer!