Good Things

This is a general collection of reviews about products I’ve been using and never bothered to provide a follow up about them. I was not paid to use or write about these products, and I did not receive any of them for free, at a discount, or in exchange for a review. Several of them are items that you all kindly recommended, so I wanted to let you know how they are working out. THANK YOU to anyone who has ever recommended that I try something, I really do appreciate it. Also, at the end, I am seeking input on backpacks if you want to just skip down to that.

In June, I complained that my preferred pair of exercise underwear had gone kaput, and the company no longer made made them. Y’all recommended several different brands, so I tried several of them! As a note: I appreciate those of you who suggested Lululemon, but I don’t shop there. Part of that is my personal bias toward their celebration of and tragic misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy (which doesn’t seem to really jive with what I understand to be the values of the yoga community), but also their founder was a real jackass (I know that he is no longer involved). Anyway, just not a fan or Rand or Lulu.

Patagonia Briefs

W'S BARELY BIKINI, Geo Diamond: Black (GBEK)

I ordered three different styles (the Barely Bikini, Active Hipster, and Active Hipster) to try. All three were great for hiking, wearing in general, and passed the sink washing/quick drying test for future travel. I prefer the Barely Bikini for working out because they don’t move at all when I’m running or lifting weights, and I never felt like they were trapping in heat. Overall, I liked all three and recommend finding the one that best fits your curves.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief

Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief, Hot Coral, large

This pair was also a good fit for my body. They don’t move around at all, I never get a wedgie, they dried quickly, and they didn’t make me feel hotter.

Knixwear Athletic Bikini

These were not the right fit for my ample backside. They cut in a bit too narrow at the bottom which made them move around a lot when I was working out. Based on reviews, I ordered a size up in addition to the normal size I would wear. My normal size was so small that I could tell it wasn’t going to work before I even got them past my thighs, so those went back. These might be a tiny bit too large which probably compounds the issue, but I don’t have time for moving undies when I’m running.

Knixwear 8-In-1 Evolution Bra

While the undies didn’t work out, I also ordered one of their bras that looked interesting and I LOVE IT. There are still plenty of shirts that I wear my normal bras with, but this one is so comfortable it’s unreal. When I first put it on it was super tight, but after a few weeks it fit perfectly. It’s so comfortable, it feels light, I don’t feel nearly as hot in it, no wires, and there’s no ugly cup seam or unwanted bulges in the back. It’s expensive ($55), but I have two now and have been thrilled with them. They also have a lot of sizes.

Amazon Fire TV/ Fire Stick

A little less than a year ago, we cancelled our cable. I was petrified. I love my shows SO MUCH. After doing some research, I bought Amazon Fire TV for the living room since you can plug the internet cord (I don’t know the proper term – sorry) from the modem directly into it. We watch the majority of our shows in the living room, so I wanted to make sure we had the fastest connection for that TV. I can honestly say that I have not missed cable at all. We bought a cheap antenna so we get some local channels in case we need the local news or to watch something live (like the Olympics), but otherwise, it has been rare that I have been frustrated that I didn’t have access to something immediately.

A lot of the apps are great (Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, PBS, Masterpiece, Starz, Showtime) and a lot of them suck (FX). An annoying problem that still exists is that channels like AMC don’t have a subscriber option that allows people without cable to watch shows. We could buy their shows on iTunes, but iTunes doesn’t have an app for Amazon, so we would have to hook a computer to the TV to watch the show which requires effort (it also costs money). The seventh season of Walking Dead is now out on Netflix, so we are finally catching up. I actually didn’t miss it at all and Sari had to convince me to give the season a try. The only major negative that I see about Fire TV is if someone in the household is a big sports fan. To my knowledge, there is not yet a way to access sports on demand or live yet. Since I don’t care at all about sports (except the Olympics), this doesn’t impact me at all. Update: You can subscribe to ESPN through Sling TV!

I have a Prime subscription, so I always have access to that content and we pay for Netflix year round. PBS is free, and the other premium channels (HBO, STARZ, Showtime, HULU) we only subscribe to in months where there is a show that we are watching (Outlander, Game of Thrones, Handmaid’s Tale). It is very easy to manage the subscriptions through Amazon.

I liked the Fire TV so much that I bought a Fire TV Stick for my room when it was on sale before Christmas. There is no monthly fee for either of the Fire TV devices which is great. We haven’t had any problems subscribing to shows and watching them (Sari got a free Roku and we often can’t get our subscription to connect to that device). The only thing I don’t like about the stick is that the remote for the living room box is a voice remote. So, instead of spending ten minutes scrolling back and forth over a keyboard on the TV typing out My Cousin Rachel, I can just say it to the remote. I think the new Fire TV Stick comes with the voice remote, so that solves that issue. It’s so handy! We also have connection issues on occasion when we have two TVs going and are on computers and/or phones. That’s an internet problem, not a Fire TV issue, but something to consider.

In conclusion, I’ve been totally happy with the functionality and options on both devices. I can also rent movies on demand or buy them which is super handy. We have not spent more than $30 a month on app subscriptions which is significantly less than our previous $145 cable bill. Win!

Now, for backpacks.

In 2002, I purchased a North Face Borealis backpack for college. She was spacious, sturdy, and comfortable. Since then, she has been with me through three degrees and eight years of college, traveled to seven countries, visited 12 national parks, lived in five cities, and flown with me all over the place. After 15 years of service, the interior is starting to dissolve and she needs to be replaced.

Image result for old north face borealis

Naturally, I reordered the same backpack since this one had treated me so well. Unfortunately, when it arrived it was much smaller and had a problematic feature. If you look at the bottom left of the above picture, you will see what looks like a half circle pad sticking out. This padding protects my hips from the waist strap when I’m carrying a bunch of crap (which is always). The new Borealis doesn’t have that feature:

Those straps will cut me right in two because my backpack is ALWAYS overpacked. I am looking for something that is functional for both carrying on a plane and day hikes. I need those padded hip sections! I ordered this Osprey pack, but now after looking at I don’t know how convenient it will be for backpacking.


I also have issues with the straps on my big Osprey backpack because they are pretty slim which cuts into my shoulders when I’m wearing it for a long time (also, because it’s always overpacked and stupid heavy). I also have the Osprey Skimmer on the way to to try out, but I am already thinking it’s too small.


For all your outdoorsy folk and travelers, I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you have for backpacks.

28 thoughts on “Good Things

  1. I have a couple of super old Deuter packs in different sizes that I really like. For grad school, I had an older version of the REI Co-Op upload which worked great for heavy books. It also has a rain cover built in which is nice for winter.

    Greyson is kind of a backpack (well all gear) hoarder and has a ton. He uses the Deuter Pace 36 pack 95% of the time though. I’ve used it too and it’s really comfortable. It doesn’t get as sweaty as my REI one.

    • I would second the REI Co-op brand. I have a small version of their Flash pack that I use as a running backpack (so not quite what you’re looking for — prob a little small), but they have a million different sizes, they’re relatively cheap, and pretty comfortable/adjustable. I will say the REI ones we have trap some heat on your back, but I’m also running with it? So not sure how that changes with just normal use, and I have no comparisons (#suchscience #manydata). I ended up popping into a store to ask about options and try things on because I was really new to running packs, and I found that to be pretty helpful and low pressure. It also might be valuable to check out REI’s garage section for a good deal. They have some pretty heavily discounted packs on there 🙂 Not an REI spokeswoman, I just apparently play one on the internet.

      • I always forget to look in their garage sale stuff! Thanks for the reminder!

    • That Deuter one looks great, but probably is bit bigger than I need right now. The REI one looks right on track though. Thank you!

  2. osprey makes great packs, you just have to find whats right for you (in an brand). i work for patagonia, take my advice with a grain of salt. have you looked at the patagonia snowdrifter 30L? it might have functionalities you dont need/want, but its worth a look. i also love my blackhole pack 30L—it’s both huge and durable! however, it does not have the waist straps you mentioned needing and i wouldnt want to hike all day with it. if you are interested in a running oack, i have tried most of the ones on the market and an happy to provide insight… they’re quite small for what it sounds like you’re looking for.
    i agree with you on the patagonia barely briefs—theyre not sexy, but they are the only underwear i have worn that doesnt ride up and give me a wedgy!

    • That Patagonia pack looks great! I looked on their website several times and never saw that. I see now that I was just looking here and it’s not actually a listing of all backpacks. I assumed the “backpacks” link meant all backpacks, not just more casual packs. Live and learn. I tried one of the black hole packs on in the store, and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the lack of waist straps. That thing is sturdy! Earlier this summer I bought that lightweight travel tote that is a tote/backpack hybrid and it is fantastic. It’s super handy when I ride my bike to the farmer’s market and I think it will be great as a carry on when I travel abroad.

      I would love advice on running packs. I’ve been using the Camelback Charm since 2011, and I love it, but it’s starting to fall apart.

    • Also, I LOVE that Patagonia has videos showing their gear and features pictures of it on an actual person.


    I just discovered this brand last year and I love it! I have a larger 65L pack that I use for backpacking, climbing, and hiking and its the most comfortable pack I’ve ever had. I have not tried smaller ones for regular use, but if they are as good as the large ones it’s worth the price.

    Good luck!!

    • I have been stalking one of their jackets for months. It kept showing up on my Instagram and it worked! Glad to hear that the brand is good!

  4. Another vote for Patagonia—I have to carry two laptops to work which is the absolute BEST and I’m able to fit both in the Paxat 30L. It’s pretty comfy, too.

    • That pack looks so perfect, I just wish it had a waist strap! Maybe I just need to accept that I need two different kinds of backpacks.

  5. Re: Sports and Fire Stick; I have a Sling subscription for college football season (roll tide!), and ESPN can be added for like $5 a month. I too have cut the cord, but I do need access some times of year.

    • Also, some sports are now available live on YouTube for free (NASCAR). They take out the commercials, so you just see a screen that says “Commercial Break.” It’s pretty great. We watch things this way using our Chromecast.

  6. I love Osprey and own four different packs from them for different activities. I have one for overnight backpacking, one ski-touring, one avy ski-touring, and a hydration vest for trail running. Osprey is really good at designing all the features in exactly the right ways for each specific activity.

    I think if you’re not happy with an Osprey pack, that might be because you’re asking it to do the wrong thing. What are you hoping to use your pack for? A 40 liter is on the small side for the average backpacker (I think mine is a 65 liter that I use for 1-3 nights) which could be why it digs into your shoulders because it’s over-loaded.

    • I have a 65 liter that use when we go abroad and it is packed to the gills (which is my fault). One time I had over 60 pounds of stuff in it. I am now looking for a pack that would work for a long day hike, but isn’t so technical that I can’t easily carry it through the airport. I am hoping the Fairview 40 will work. I wish we had a Osprey store here because our REI is small and had very few packs that weren’t the big frame ones.

      • Hmm… maybe you can order them ALL online, ship to REI. Then try them in the store and immediately return the ones you don’t like. It’ll be like a DIY Osprey store!

  7. Thanks for the tip on the Evolution bra. I’ve had one for a long time (supported their original Kickstarter project) but I tried wearing it twice and found it tight and uncomfortable and it ended up at the back of my drawer. Sounds like if I can suck it up for a couple of weeks it may become as comfortable as they promised. I’m gonna give it a go, so thank you!

    • Yes, do it! The first week in mine it was uncomfortably tight, but not awful. It was already better by the second week and was great by the third. I wish they included that information in the box so it was obvious. If I hadn’t read that tip in another review, then I wouldn’t have liked it at all.

  8. You can also get sports (and a bunch of other channels) thru YouTube TV (not the normal YouTube, the subscription service) but you have to cast it with a Chromecast currently because it doesn’t have a Fire app yet. We currently use a Fire stick and have used Chromecast in the past (and Apple TV before that). We are very happy with the Fire right now but are looking to add YouTube TV once they get a Fire app (we tried the Vue app and it was AWFUL and I heard the streaming with the sling wasn’t so great either).

    And lastly, thought you would appreciate these great posters:

  9. I’m a big fan of Osprey packs as well, but I would recommend going to an outdoor /sporting goods shop that will assist with fitting. I recently went to one where there was someone who was really familiar with all of the various fits and features, and then she loaded than all up with a bunch of weight so I could try them out. I also learned that ideally you should have your hips carry the majority of the weight and that was a game changer. I alsways bought that I should just tighten the straps as snug as possible so there wasn’t any movement, but then I tried it with weight transferred to the hips and it was so much more comfortable.

    • I am all about my hips doing the work, which is why I don’t want a backpack with those little straps that have no padding! That looks so painful! Those moments when you get it just right and pack lifts off your shoulders are the best!

  10. I LOOOOOVE the Osprey Farpoint 40 and it has been with me all around the world. It is great for backpacking in that sense, but you are correct in your guess that it won’t be that great for backpacking trails. I haven’t read any of the other comments, which probably mention this, but if you have a REI near you they are awesome at fitting folks for the right backpack for their individual needs.

  11. We need to cut cable soon. Our DirecTV discounts expired and it went from $45 a month to like $130. UGH gross. However our DTV box stopped working and we had to wait like 3 days for a replacement and we felt like third-worlders. We need to figure this out.

    Check this out

    Maybe they will replace with a new one for free? (Unless you want something new). Annika’s preschool backpack is a NorthFace partly bc someone told me they have a lifetime warranty, which I found impressive.

    • I actually did call North Face, but it’s based on the “life of the product” versus my lifetime and is only for manufacturing defects or issues with workmanship. Since the backpack is 15 years old, the wear and tear is from normal use and maybe that one time I slid down part of a mountain with it on my back. No actual issues with crappy materials or defective parts. They did send me a coupon though which I thought was nice!

      Cut that cable! I cannot believe how much money we have saved without it and how easy it is to watch your shows once you figure out which apps you really need and when.

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