Gear Review- Mountain Warehouse Ultimate Self Inflating Mat

Have you guys ever had a blog post fired up and ready to go and then it gets buried in your draft folder? That has what happened to my review of Mountain Warehouse’s Ultimate Self Inflating Mat!

Mountain Warehouse sent me the mat for free in exchange for a review, but my thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Mountain Warehouse is a UK-based outdoor gear that have stores throughout the UK and shopping on their website. They don’t carry lots of different brands but mainly carry their own.

I was given the opportunity to peruse their website and choose an item to test out. While looking, I was surprised at how affordable their gear is. When I saw the Ultimate Self Inflating Mat I knew that I had to get it because Ryan doesn’t want to tent it any more and I thought a mat might help change his mind because I’m not ready for a camper trailer. (See my blog post: Too Old For Tents But Too Young for a Camper).

Anyway, I was really excited when it finally arrived and ran to the backyard to test it out. It’s a decent size, slightly bigger than a back country sleeping bag but would be easy enough to strap onto a backpack and it’s light so it wouldn’t add too much extra weight to your pack.

This shows you how small it is (and how adorable Rocky is!)

This shows you how small it is (and how adorable Rocky is!)

The self inflating function is pretty cool, you just open the nozzle and the mat sucks in air. You can walk around and set up camp while it inflates. I like a firm mat so I would give it a couple of breathes to fill it to capacity.

The first thing I noticed when it was blown up was the open cell foam, it wasn’t just a flat mat. This makes the mat even more comfortable.

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When I laid on it was that it was a little too short for me. I’m 5’8 which is tall for a woman but for most men, the mat’s a little short.

Camping

I let Ryan use it for the first time while we were tenting at a softball tournament. The next morning when I asked how it was he said it helped a little but didn’t make a big difference. The next night, I took the mat and thought Ryan was crazy!! It was such a nice cushion from the hard ground below the tent and  a lot better than the foam camping mat I’ve been using.

Ryan testing it out

Ryan testing it out while Rocky watches

Final Thoughts

I am definitely very happy to have this in my gear closet for camping and it will be coming with me on many camping trips to come (unless my husband wins and gets a trailer).

The size is ok, maybe a little big for serious backpacking, but if you have any sort of back issues it’s worth it. It doesn’t add too much extra weight, just takes up a little space.

The price is very fair ($107.99 CAN- currently on massive sale for $44.99).

I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone taller than 5’10.

Visit Mountain Warehouse’s website to check out all their gear.

So excited that it's here! Trying to convince Ryan we aren't too old to tent it.

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Rainy Weekend in Glacier National Park

This recap is a little late but life has been crazy these days. Actually, when is it ever not crazy?

For the long weekend, Ryan and I packed up the dog and headed to Glacier National Park to camp in the Apgar Campground with Ryan’s parents. They were staying the week and invited us to stay in their camper and enjoy the park.

One lesson Ryan and I learned is that we are never going to go to the States on a long weekend again. We waited an hour and a half getting into Montana and a little under an hour to get back into Canada. That is a long wait! But at least the view at the Carway border is pretty.

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Anyhoo, we stopped in St. Mary at Park Café because I was starving. I ordered an avocado burger with no bun and cheese and took it to go. The burger was INCREDIBLE! Every bite I took was followed by an “mmmmmmmm.” If you are ever in the St. Mary area, you have to stop there. The diner is so cute too; it reminds me of Luke’s Diner in Gilmore Girls.

Off we went through Logan’s Pass and over the Going to the Sun Road. This is a famous stretch of road because the scenery is amazing. I tried to snap as many photos from the car as I could because there aren’t very many approaches to pull off.

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As we drove along, Rocky and I stuck our heads out the window and enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh air. I remember thinking “Fall my ass! Summer isn’t even close to being over yet.” I ate those words later, but I’ll continue.

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When we came to Apgar Village I thought it was kitschy and touristy and I couldn’t believe we were going to camp in a place like that. His parents already had a space at Apgar Campground and when we pulled in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a ton of space between camping spots so there was a lot of privacy and it kept the noise down.

We quickly went into West Glacier to get a few groceries and passed all the childhood attractions that Ryan and his brothers visited as children; a water park, a fun centre with go karts and a large maze. We both agreed that we would have to come back next year with his kids.

We stopped at the Hungry Horse Sign for a picture because it’s a family tradition and headed up to the Hungry Horse Dam to check it out and get a photo.

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The next morning I woke up early with Rocky and took him for a walk along the bike trail to the kitschy village and got a soy latte. As I took my first sip and looked at Lake McDonald I thought that it was actually really nice to be close to a place like this. Luxurious really. When we camp it’s usually instant coffee in the morning which isn’t all that great.

Perfect morning

Perfect morning

Rocky and I spent an hour or so walking alone the beach and enjoying the view. We went on the dock and the water was so clear that it looked really shallow, so Rocky jumped off the dock and came up surprised that it was so deep. I have never seen this dog swim so fast! He booked it for shore and I couldn’t convince him to go back in the water again. I’m guessing it was cold.

Impact!

Impact!

Cold!!

Cold!!

After my coffee was finished we walked back to the campground because I was starving only to find that everyone was still sleeping! I left Rocky there and headed back to the Village to have breakfast at Eddies Restaurant. I was sat at a very nice table for one where I had a companion waiting for me, this guy-

Breakfast for one. Sad!

Breakfast for one. Sad!

Yeah I felt a little like a loser but I relaxed and enjoyed my breakfast. After, I perused the shops and found an awesome, fleecy pair of sweats that I’ve been wearing to bed every night since I got them. We had planned to go to the old growth forest and hike to Avalanche Lake and do some fishing but in the afternoon it started to rain and it didn’t stop the rest of the day. I might have toughed it out in the rain but it was so cold you could see your breathe and that was just a little too much for me. Remember how I said I was fighting getting a trailer because I thinking tenting is more like real camping? Scratch that! We spent the whole day in his parents’ trailer drinking and playing cards and making a delicious dinner. If we had been tenting it, we would have been a miserable bunch.

Drinking in the trailer

Drinking in the trailer

The next morning was our last morning and the rain cleared up long enough for me to get on Lake McDonald on a rented paddleboard. Yes! After YEARS of talking about it, I finally got to do it! It was fun and easy and I could feel my legs and core working which was awesome.

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I tried to get Rocky on it but he took one step on the wobbly board and hopped off and swam for shore. It was really funny too because he hid behind Ryan’s legs and ignored me as I tried to call him out to try it again.

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The scenery was gorgeous though the mountains were covered in dark clouds, but I enjoyed it and have already put an SUP on my birthday wish list.

Because of the dark clouds in the mountains, we decided to scrap our plans and headed back for home early. I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t get out hiking as much as I wanted, but I had a good time with my in-laws and I’m glad we went and discovered this wonderful place! Ryan and I are already planning when we’ll come back next year with his kids.

Too Old For Tents But Too Young for a Camper

I love camping. I absolutely love it. I am one of those folks who can go days without a shower, sleep in a bag on the ground and wash my dishes in the stream happily. But the older you get, the more complicated camping gets.

Ryan and I took his kids and the dog for a single night of camping a couple weekends ago and the I couldn’t believe the amount of planning and prep that had to go into it!  Meals, snacks, clothes, layers, extra clothes, tents, sleeping bags, etc. etc. After a fun and relaxing day of hanging out by the water and letting the kids play, followed by a night of laughs around the camp fire, we settled in to go to sleep. The wind had other ideas…

The wind howled so bad the whole night long that it shook and rattled our tent to a point that neither of us could sleep. the dog was up and pacing and nervous and we tossed and turned on the hard ground trying to catch a few winks. The wind finally died down around sunrise but by then we were both so over tired that Ryan packed us up and took us home. I slept from 8:30 am- 2:30 pm on Sunday and then was in bed at 9 pm that night.

Tent # 1

The dilemma we are facing is what do we do now? Ryan says he can’t sleep on the ground any more, his back hurts him and he needs a more solid bed. We have tried air mattresses and those don’t work because they are too soft. He suggested we look at campers but I HATE the idea of dragging along a camper behind us wherever we go. To me, camping is hopping in your car and going. Campers are for old people who need a bed and bathroom or people with  babies or  young children. I still like to rough it.

So what are we to do? We’re getting too old to tent it but are still too young for campers! Any suggestions? I’m leaning toward a camper van. A vehicle and a solid bed rolled into one. Ryan thinks if you are buying a camper van you may as well buy a motor home but I do not want a motor home!

I would LOVE a VW camper van!

I would LOVE a VW camper van!

I think for now the answer will be cots. We’ll get a couple of cots set up in our tent and see if that is more comfortable.

A couple cots may make sleeping in a tent easier

A couple cots may make sleeping in a tent easier

I also found these cot/tent combos/ I don’t think that would work for us because of Rocky though.

This would be so nice for set up and take down!

This would be so nice for set up and take down!

We’ll also find a spot more protected from the wind!

Maybe we need to go all out glamping! Ha ha ha! Definitely not roughing it.

Maybe we need to go all out glamping! Ha ha ha! Definitely not roughing it.

Friday Fitness and I am Really Struggling

This has been a bad week for me. I’ve been starving and eating way over my daily allotted calories from FitnessPal but I’ve also been exhausted and no I’m not pregnant! Whenever I mention my appetite or exhaustion that’s the first thing everyone asks me and it’s driving me crazy. I wish it was pregnancy because then there is an end in sight.

If I could just take off a couple pounds, I would have more motivation to push it. I’ll just keep at it.

Friday-  Cycle 40 min (258 cal)

Saturday - No physical activity- per se. We went camping so there was a lot of walking around and playing in the river.

Enjoying the fire in the evening

Enjoying the fire in the evening

Sunday- Walking on highway in middle of nowhere 10 min (80 calories)

I was about to get angry, but decided to laugh it off and enjoy my adventure

I was about to get angry, but decided to laugh it off and enjoy my adventure

Monday- Yoga 40 min (128 cal)

- Softball 1:40 (600 cal)

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Tuesday & Wednesday- Nothing

Thursday- BodySculpt 40 min. (231 cal)

Total Calories Burned 1,297

Camping in Del Bonita & I Got Stuck

At last! Finally! I got to go camping this weekend! Yes it was only for one night (it was raining and 90 km winds on Friday night) and yes it was the exotic locale of Del Bonita but to me, camping is camping and I had a great time!

Driving through the country with my feet out the window. Heaven!

Driving through the country with my feet out the window. Heaven!

The Del Bonita campground is only 30 minutes south of Magrath and almost always empty which is why we opted to go so the kids and dog could run freely.  I don’t think anything makes me happier than being outside all day and waking up and going back outside. I always think I would make a good gypsy because rain or shine, I want to be outside.

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Rocky had a blast swimming in the Milk River though at one time the current was so bad he started floating downstream so I hopped in and gave him a push to shore.

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I was especially proud of my healthy camping dinner- salmon, carrots and potatoes with a little garlic salt cooked in tin foil. It was way tastier than any hot dog.

Healthy camping food

Healthy camping food

This Friday is Ryan’s birthday so the kids and I surprised him with a birthday cake, a McCain Deep & Delicious! And since I forgot candles, I busted out my emergency candles in the car and we ate it straight out of the carton so as not to dirty any dishes because we’re classy like that.

Mmm...cake!

Mmm…cake!

At one point I was worried we were going to get rained on as clouds were on three sides of us and it was obviously raining. But we were luck that somehow the rain stayed away.

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It was a perfect day and night.

Enjoying the fire in the evening

Enjoying the fire in the evening

The next morning after breakfast, we packed up and Ryan took his kids in his vehicle home and I stayed behind to let Rocky swim one last time. After his swim we hopped in the car and nothing. It wouldn’t start. The battery had died from keeping the trunk hatch open too long. I was stranded! And even better, there is no cell service in Del Bonita.

No service! Argh!

No service! Argh!

So Rocky and I headed off down the highway to the nearest farmhouse to find help.

I was about to get angry, but decided to laugh it off and enjoy my adventure

I was about to get angry, but decided to laugh it off and enjoy my adventure

We crossed a bridge that had a ton of bird nests under it and all these creepy birds swarmed around us when we crossed the bridge.

Birds are so creepy!

Birds are so creepy!

We made it to the farm and I was nervous about asking a total stranger for help.

Hoping these people are nice

Hoping these people are nice

The lady who answered the door was very friendly and seemed happy to help which made me feel a lot better. She gave me a jump and off Rocky and I went-headed for home.

It was such a great weekend. Now I need to clean the disaster of a house I came home to, especially after dumping all our camping stuff in the foyer.

Adventures in Crowsnest Pass

Wow! What a weekend it was! My little brother and I really wanted some quality time together (he is spending the summer in Waterton before going back to Seattle) so we scheduled this camping trip over a month ago to make sure that we got some quality time in together! And we did have several adventures. He wanted to get out of Waterton, my typical place of choice so we decided to hit up Crowsnest Pass instead.

My first off impression is that the Crowsnest Pass is that it’s not the place for me. It’s crowded, the mountains aren’t nearly as dramatic as Waterton, and the trail heads are not marked (more on that later).

CAMPING

We camped at Chinook Lake just 6km north of Highway 3. It is very clearly marked and easy to find. This was my first time camping in a crowded camp ground EVER! I always camped in remote camp grounds or back country. I did not liek the experience at all! I was kept up until 3am the first night by the drunk d-bags two camping spots over from us and then awoken at 7am by the screaming kids right next to us. I was not a happy camper.

Tent # 1

Tent #2

We intended to buy wood from the camp site but when we arrived they weren’t home. It was 8pm on a Friday night, prime camp site hours. I left a note and it wasn’t  until 10 pm that the host came by with some wood for us to purchase. In the meantime we were starving and so picked up dead wood around the site (which we weren’t supposed to) to get a fire started to cook on.

Searching for wood

When we tried to go down to Chinook Lake, it was so crowded we couldn’t find any parking. By the end of the trip I was pretty annoyed with the whole camp ground experience. From now on, I am sticking to back country.

Reflection of the trees in my coffee

ACTIVITIES

We did have a good time being tourists in Crowsnest Pass. Ryan wasn’t with us on the first day as he had to work so Ben and I were complete tourists and started off our day walking through Blairmore.

Ben hopped the fence to get this shot with a historic train on display in the town

We had breakfast as this amazing cafe! It is just like Luke’s Diner from Gimore Girls.

I ordered a fresh carrot juice and it was so tasty!

We headed to Crowsnest Lake to enjoy the view

We went on the Bellevue Mine Tour! A blog post about this awesome experience to come.

We hit the Interpretive Centre and learned all about Frank Slide. More info to come soon.

HIKING

I wanted to go on an epic hike with Ben, at least once. SO I researched local hikes and found one that goes to a World War !! plane crash site where the shell of the plane is still there. From that site you can hike 3km more up to the peak of the mountain it’s on.  I was so excited to take Ben and Ryan and I found a free hiking map at Stone’s Throw Cafe so I thought I knew the way.

We followed the map to the North Creek Road and stopped under a big sign that said North Creek Staging Area while we looked for a sign somewhere. I stopped a group of passing mountain bikers (one of whom happened to be an old aquaintence) and got directions to the trail head. He said that we had to go over the yellow York Creek Bridge, up a few switchbacks and we would see a sign. We passed the bridge, drove up the switch backs and saw two trails forking. First we tried the left but that lead to what looked like a quad trail then we turned around and tried the right and ended up on another quad trail.  We drove through puddles and over rocks and ruts and I was shocked at how awesome my car was doing.

This was the highlight of this morning. We drove around for over an hour before I gave up trying to find this trail or the trail head because there are several trails shooting off the main road and not one is marked and the map’s instructions were clear as mud. But I still enjoyed myself because my car Norman a small 2-wheel drive SUV was ROCKING on this off road terrain! I couldn’t believe it. I will never call Norman boring again! 

Just a little of the mud when we first started off-roading with Norman.

So after about an hour and 15 minutes I stressed right out and said forget it. We went to a gas station and looked at the trail map and tried to find something that was a nice hike but short because we were quickly burning daylight. We decided on Saskatoon Mountain a 1.2km hike each way that was rated moderate. More details on this hike to come.

I was not impressed when we started the trail. More info on this hike to come soon.

We ended our weekend with a swim in the Crowsnest River and headed back for home.

It was a good time, I enjoyed my time with my brother, but I will stick to Waterton from now on. It’s closer, there are less crowds, and most importantly trail heads are clearly marked!!!

Softball Tournament in Coutts

Thanks to Camille I actually have photo evidence that I do in fact play softball. Here it is:

Yup, that’s me in the pink tank top. :)

Coutts was a lot of fun; but who doesn’t have fun camping, playing ball and hanging out with your friends? We came in 10th our of  13 teams.  Ha!

It was hot, I got a good burn, it was pretty nice.

My absolute favourite part was being outside all the time. I would wake up and go outside for food, bathroom, etc. I could totally be a gypsy and live in a camper.

And so, a few photos from the weekend.

Cheering on beer races

My cousin Jenn in the beer races

Camille was sick and we gave it a thumbs up.

Jenn trying to snare a gopher

That long grass line is the border. This  was Billie & Camille’s tent, but you can see is how close our camp site was to it. Border patrol was there the whole time making sure we didn’t cross.