Gear Review – Kids/Infant REI Mid-Weight Long Underwear

We broke down and bought the kids long underwear for Christmas.  When we were in Yosemite in October, they were so cold in the mornings.  It was cause for a lot of whining and grumpiness.  Warm kids are happy kids, right?  Yosemite convinced us we were going to have to get them long underwear rather than rely on just layering clothes.

Long Underwear

We decided to go to REI for two reasons.  First, REI carries really well made brands and we felt that we would be able to get something that would really keep the kids warm.  Secondly, we wanted something that our daughter could hand down to our son – something that would last through two kids.  Instead of buying two new pairs a year, we are hoping that she can pass hers down to him each year.

We settled on the REI brand Mid-Weight Long Underwear in turquoise for The Girl (we figured this is kind of a boy/neutral color) and the REI brand Infant Mid-Weight Long Underwear for The Boy.  The Girl’s long underwear ran $22.50 for each piece.  I believe The Boy’s ran for about $19.50 for each piece.  Quite an investment in long underwear for two growing kids, but after Yosemite we thought it was worth the cost.

The kids have been wearing them for about 6 months.  They are wearing really well (no holes or tears).  The make a great base layer.  We just pull their clothes up over the long underwear and the kids have even taken to sleeping in them.  They definitely keep the kids warm and have cut down on the early morning complaining when it is still crisp outside.

Overall, we are really happy with the REI brand Mid-Weight Long Underwear.


Cleaning Up Our Cast Iron – Major Camping Fail

We have two cast iron Dutch ovens we use when we are camping. We usually store them at The Mountains but we realized our storage method was subpar. We were storing under our outdoor stove, covered with a tarp. We thought they would be protected from the rain and snow. Umm. Yeah. Not really. They got super rusty.

Cast Iron Rust

Using Southern Living Magazines 11 Cast Iron Commandments and a lot of elbow grease, The Missus cleaned up the smaller if the two in time for Thanksgiving.


Here is how she did it:

1.  Wash the cast iron with soap and water.  We know soap and water are a no-no in cast iron, but we needed to do this do remove some of the dirt and rust.
2.  Using steel stool pads, scrub the pan.  I like the steel wool that comes with the blue soap on the pad (S.O.S brand).  It seems to help remove the rust a bit better than just water.
3.  Rinse.
4.  Scrub the pan with water and coarse salt.
5.  Rinse.
6.  Repeat the above steps until the pan is rust free.  For really tough spots, we used a steel wire brush.  This helped in those really tough spots.

Miracle Brush
7.  Once rust free, coat the entire pan with vegetable oil and bake upside down in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour.
8.  You can repeat step 7 until you feel the pan is seasoned to your liking.  Once it is finished, you want to avoid any soaps when cleaning.


Two Yosemite Lessons Learned

Yosemite was a great trip but it made us realize two things.  We needed to find a better way to tote water around for the kids and we are seriously lacking in good music.

1. The kids needed bigger water bottles. They officially outgrew their little kid bottles. We were constantly refilling bottles at Yosemite and the water issue limited how far we thought we could hike. The Missus found these CamelBak Eddy’s at Target. They seem to be doing the trick. They doubled the amount of water we were carrying for each child.  Plus, they are easy to clean, don’t seem to leak, and were inexpensive.  The backpack style CamelBak’s might be a good investment when the kids are a bit older and can carry their own water.

CamelBak Eddy

2. We need a better music solution. The radio and tape deck are not cutting it. The speakers in The Westy are not that great and you literally have to turn the volume to the max if you want to hear any music in the front of the van.  The Mister looked into different devices we could use in The Westy and settled on the Jambox. He found it on sale on Amazon. It can stream music from our phones – both Pandora and our own playlists. It has been a nice addition to our camping gear.