These clothes cost, um, how much exactly?

Before Outdoor Nation changed their web site, they used to hand out points for activity on the site. One could then redeem points for fun outdoor gear.

Before you run over and sign up, I must tell you that sadly, they took away their point system several months ago. They’ve replaced it with a series of challenges and contests in which prizes are handed out. If that interests you, check it out. For me, I’d much rather have a guaranteed fewer points to redeem than a chance of either winning nothing or something big.

But, the point of this story is that when they moved from their point system, they had to find a way to redeem those of us who wanted to cash in what we’d earned. And they did find a way to do that – in a very big way, in my opinion. I was pleasantly surprised at what they gave me, which was:

My choice of a few colors of Merrell Solo Origin shoes. I chose teal (scarlet wasn’t available for the credit, so I got my second choice.)

and my choice of several other gifts (I can’t remember the rejects now) but I selected $100 in gift cards to Smartwool.

I received the shoes in November, and I have to say – I was super pleased with the level of brightness in these kicks. The teal absolutely does not photograph well, either on their site or in my photo below – but trust me, there is nothing dull about these babies. Very happy with the color.

 

 

I do have a confession to make, though. I have no idea what these shoes are for. Hiking? Running? Hanging out? I have worn them on one day hike with good results, plus sometimes to and from yoga class (we’re barefoot during class.) My guess is that Merrell would say they are for whatever you want to wear them for, but I’m still curious what they are designed to be. At any rate, I love them.

But, back to Smartwool. I received my online gift certificate a few weeks ago, and I was so excited to get lots of cool items. I have a few pairs of Smartwool socks, but that’s been my only experience with the brand.

I quickly learned that $100 will not go very far with them. I should have expected that. You get what you pay for with workout gear, and they seemed to be no exception. At first glance, I didn’t see much I wanted. I mulled over a pair of pants, but at $130, it just seemed crazy. All it would take is one rip or flick of a spark from a campfire to make me really sad about spending that much.

So, I left the certificate in my inbox for a couple of weeks, occasionally visiting the site and not seeing much that was really drawing me in. And then I decided that was just silly. I needed to invest in one or two basic items, things I knew I’d wear, and not worry about how much it costs – whatever I would buy would be pretty much paid for, anyway!

I decided on a lavender microweight tee for $65. I knew I’d use it, but it just looked so boring on the site. I like bright, bold colors and this was just ok to me. But I didn’t want pink (would be overkill with the hair), and they didn’t have my size in teal, and the off white one just looked awful. So, lavender it was. I’ll say it costs about twice what I’m used to paying for good quality running shirts – and about 3-4x what I’m used to paying for cheap ones that you wear out, throw out, repeat.

And then I found the cutest pair of arm warmers. Hidden almost on the site – the ones that popped up in the preview were so boring, but these (click on “blueprint” to see) were fun! $25, which actually is close to the same that I’ve paid for other pairs.

My order added up to $99 including shipping. Perfect.

I received them this morning and tried them on immediately. Oh, wow. I might never take these things off. First of all, the lavender is a pretty pastel, not the grainy speckled look in the photo on their web site. The medium fits me like a glove and it is incredibly comfortable. The arm warmers are the most comfortable pair I’ve ever tried. They don’t pinch at all and they are much warmer, softer, cozier.

In fact, I love my gear so much that it’s making me really look forward to my run with Meghan on Sunday. I’m hoping the weather will stay cold enough to test out the armwarmers. Then when we head into hot yoga class I can strip them right off.

So, the moral to this story is that $100 does, in fact, go quite a long way with Smartwool. I can’t say I’ll be buying all my workout gear from them (because then I’d be broke) but I will definitely appreciate the new stuff.