Gear Review: Stay Happy (And Dry) This Spring


Photo credit: Courtney Tanner

Spring in Utah is unrivaled. I like to think it’s what Ernest Hemingway had in mind when he wrote: “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” The “false spring” part should at least ring true with the crazy weather for which this state is infamous.

Regardless, spring always brings a healthy dose of happiness: blue skies, green grass, and a chance to get outdoors. Even for me, it’s a time to pull my nose out of the books (yes, even Hemingway) for a change of scenery.

This year, we’re encouraging you to try new adventures in the water, be that kayaking, rafting, boating, or hiking to a lake. To help you be your happiest in those endeavors, even in the temperamental weather, here’s a round-up of three great items to add to your gear this spring:


OutCross Evo 1.5 Water Shoes (Women’s)

Brand: Chaco

Cost: $115

Multiple colors available

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Chaco shoes are as close as it comes to perfection in footwear. The OutCross Evo 1.5 water shoes have only further confirmed my opinion on this.

The mesh on the shoes is impeccable. It’s sturdy, breathable, and stylish. And, as it should with any good water shoe, it drains well and dries fast. There’s also a bit of expandable bungee cord at the front, which you can loosen or tighten for fit. Among the best qualities, though, is the collapsible heel. It makes the shoes easy to pull on and off and won’t leave blisters behind because of the softness of the material. The toe is solid, formed by a sort of rubber, adding a nice, durable component for hiking around.

I love wading in the water at Mirror Lake in the Uinta Mountains to fish, but before these shoes it was always a little dicey to do so. The bottom of the lake, especially close by the shore where I wade, is littered with fishhooks and sharp rocks. The OutCross Evos, thankfully, have a thick sole to protect the foot (and to protect me from needing a tetanus shot). Even with this, though, they are lightweight and easy to pack — a real plus if you’re worried about weighing down an already-too-full bag. Honestly, I can’t find anything wrong with these. You won’t find a more versatile water shoe on the market.


Makai Jacket (Women’s)

Brand: Mammut

Cost: $300

Multiple colors available

There’s a line in the Rihanna song “Umbrella” that says “in anticipation for precipitation.” That’s how I like to think of this rain jacket (and I can’t help humming the tune when I wear it). It’s a great choice for when rainy weather fills the forecast — in Utah, that means the entire month of April. Though this jacket is admittedly a bit pricey, it’s worth the splurge if you’re in the market for one. Mammut’s clothes are made from high-quality materials and made well, meaning it’s an investment that will last you for years to come.

The jacket is lightweight and incredibly water-resistant. Rain rolls right off the slick material. There are also about a million pockets on this thing, including some inside, which is a nice place to keep your phone. If you buy the jacket in black, a few of the zippers are red, adding a nice accent without being overpowering. This attention to detail and style is one of the best reasons to buy from this brand — the designers really think of everything.

The hood is slightly on the too-large side, featuring a built-in visor, but there’s a drawstring — a great feature to make this fit uniquely to the person. The main zipper is stiff, which can make the jacket sit a little funny when you first get it, but that’s to be expected from a hard shell like this. The sleeves are pretty long, too, but there’s Velcro at the wrists, so you can tighten them, which is my favorite element of this jacket.


Lizzie Pullover (Women’s)

Brand: High Sierra

Cost: $59.99

Multiple colors available

It wouldn’t be unreasonable if you were wondering why a fleece hoodie is included on a list for water gear. But let me make the case: After getting soaked on a kayaking run or from swimming in a lake, it’s nice to have something warm to throw on. This pullover is ideal for those situations.

The fleece inside is toasty, if you need it, but the hoodie is fairly lightweight, too, so it’s not overwhelmingly hot either. It’s great for those Miss Congeniality moments — when “it’s not too hot, not too cold — all you need is a light jacket.” The material is soft and stretchy, making it hibernation-worthy for the weekends, fitting for after a workout class, or comfortable around a campfire. I’ll pack the hoodie to wear on road trips or to throw on after a good day of fishing.

The pullover features thumb holes, a great design to keep the sleeves from pulling up. The neck is a little too long for my tastes, causing the fabric to gather around the throat at times (my only complaint). Otherwise, the hoodie weighs just one pound, so it’s easy to pack. I highly recommend it for post-water activities.

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