Topquilt Review: Making camping more comfortable

Since I moved out to B.C. I have been enjoying the great outdoors. I mean with the mountains and the ocean, how could you not want to be outside. Along with my new found love of exploring, has come a passion for camping. Before moving out west, I had never camped in my life and so I will admit it was hard at first. Learning how to pitch a tent, eating food out of a bag, going to the bathroom outside, packing light, and finding the right equipment.

One of the hardest parts was finding the right sleeping gear that would make the experience comfortable and enjoyable, but that was also easy and light to carry. I am a 29 year old female who is still relatively new to camping and hiking. The thought of carrying a heavy bag up the mountain petrified me. So I reached out to some experienced hikers, and some had recommended gear from Outdoor Vitals. I was pretty impressed with their selection, and decided to give their topquilt sleeping back a try.

After doing a bit of research, I found out that the founder of the company had one goal in mind, to lighten his pack and stay comfortable while in the backcountry. I trusted this brand right away because it came from someone that understood what camping is like and has experienced the difficulties of camping first hand. I knew this product was coming from someone who really understood camping and was excited to give it a try.

About Topquilt 

This weekend, I took it on my first camping trip to Bowen Island and I really did love this sleeping bag. The three best features for me was the fact that it was super light but also durable, it was waterproof and comfortable, and that it could be used for multi purposes.

Extra lightweight  

What I learned was hat this sleeping bag was actually originally designed as as hammock with an under quilt to cut the weight. It was extremely light and didn’t make my bag extra heavy. I was able to carry it up the mountain with ease and didn’t really have to stop for any breaks. It was also very compatible and easy to pack in my backpack.

 

Feels like a down

The second part that I loved was that it was really comfortable. As someone who definitely enjoys my down comforter at home, I had found it tough in the past to get a good night sleep while camping. From the noises of nature, to sleeping on the ground. What I loved about this sleeping bag, was despite it being really light weight, it is a pretty thick to sleep in. The company uses exclusive LoftTek imitation down that acts like an insulation. This is lighter and more compressible, but is still able to insulate even when wet because of the synthetic insulation. No matter what the weather is outside, stay warm, dry, and comfortable even when you are in the middle of the forest.

Since the camping trip, I have found so many other uses for the Topquilt sleeping bag. I take it with me to relax on the beach, for outdoor concerts and festivals, and for cottage weekends. It is so much more than just a sleeping bag for camping trips.

Your personal discount code

Now for the best part, if you use my Outdoor Vital code, you can get 10% off your order of a TopQuilt sleeping bag today. Just head over to their website and use the code “MIAWGORDON” at checkout and make your camping experience so much more enjoyable.

Get outside and enjoy the summer in comfort with the Topquilt sleeping bag. I know that mine will be getting plenty of use camping around beautiful B.C. over the next few months. I cannot wait to see what else there is to see, explore, discover in my new home.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

My top spots in Vancouver, so far

 

Like most Vancouverites that I have met during my 9 month stint here so far, I am not a true local. No I am an Ontario implant. We seem to be famous out here on the West Coast for trading in our cold winters and snow boots for mountains, ocean, and well rain boots.

Since moving here, I have been on the road a lot, but the time that I am here I have been spending it exploring the beautiful landscapes, hikes, activities, and nightlife in my  new home. 

Since I know a lot of us are all in the same boat, I wanted to share some of my favourite moments and places here in Vancouver so far.

1) Hiking 

and the mountain from my balcony. There is something so special about going out and taking in the fresh air. Beautiful views combined with a bit of a workout, what could be better? There are so many incredible hikes that offer something for everyone. I wanted to share a few of my favourite with you so far

  • Joffre Lakes: This hike is a bit outside of Vancouver, located in Pemberton but definitely worth the drive. I have never seen such incredible colours. The three lakes all a different shade of deep blue and turquoise, the trees painted red and orange, and waterfalls around every turn. It was the most magical place I have seen to date. But be warned, this hike is pretty difficult, and will take you about four hours.
  • Quarry Rock: For a much easier hike and one closer to the city head up to Quarry Rock and take in the views from the Deep Cove Lookout. From the dense forest to the beautiful water views, this hike is definitely a must.
  • Dog Mountain: Just 25 minutes from downtown and only about an hour hike, but definitely some of the most spectacular views. You can really  see the whole city, and it sure makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Plus there are plenty of small lakes and streams along the way to stop at. Find the trail head for this hike just past the Bear’s Paw lodge
  • The Grouse Grind: Ok, yes probably one of the busier, crowded hikes in Vancouver, but I feel this is a must for anyone to really call themselves a true local. Commonly referred to as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, this one is definitely a grind. 2.9KM to the top and will see plenty of incredible trees, trails, and viewpoints. From the top you will see some of the best views of Vancouver.

2) Relax on the Beach 

It is crazy to think we live in a place where others vacation. Just five minutes from my house is the beach perfect for an after work stroll or a weekend of reading. There are some amazing beaches in Vancouver and here are some of the must visits.

  • Kits Beach: This is the place to be in Vancouver. It is definitely one of the busier beaches, but it is a great spot to interact and get some games going. Grab a group for spike ball or beach volleyball. Go for a dip to cool off. It is also a great spot to grab some nearby food and hang out with friends for a picnic. I also love eating at the Boathouse, it has great views of the beach and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
  • Spanish Banks: Just a little ways down from Kits Beach is Spanish Banks. It is a quieter spot if you are looking for a more tranquil beach experience or just to escape the busy city feel
  • Third Beach: Located in Stanley Park (what better backdrop for a beach) Third Beach is a great place to go swimming in the park. There is plenty of soft sand to set up shop and the shallow warm water makes for a great place to go for a dip.
  • English Bay: Right down the road from my house, this is my favourite beach because of the proximity. It is so easy to go explore after work. Again, there are lots of places to grab some food and head out for an evening picnic. A great spot to relax and unwind.

3) Sip some craft brews 

One thing I learnt when I moved to Vancouver, was that it has an incredible crafter beer scene. There are so many unique and quirky microbreweries to explore. I highly recommend taking a stroll on a Saturday afternoon in East Van and checking out some of the breweries in the area.

  • Brassneck Brewery: This was the first brewery that I visited and it did not disappoint. With over 50 unique beers to choose from and a very at home feel it is a great place to gather the group. I loved the reclaimed wood furniture and the chalkboard menu.
  • Main Street Brewery: Located in a beautiful heritage building it is a bright and fun place to grab a drink. High ceilings and high stools almost give it a cafeteria vibe. I love that there is a slew of seasonal brews to choose from.
  • Faculty Brewing: I love that the speakeasy vibe here. You feel like you are entering a dark, hole in the wall. A quieter spot to enjoy a delicious Oaked Stout.

4) Explore the food of Commercial Drive 

I have really enjoyed exploring the food scene here in Vancouver since the move and have particularly fallen in love with Commercial Drive. It is a funky part of town that stays away from chain restaurants.

  • Cafe Deux Soleils: I was told that this was a staple of the Drive and had to come and give it a try. Not only do they have everything from delicious breakfast to dinner choices, they also have live entertainment. Enjoy everything from poetry readings to standup comedy. This spot really has it all. 
  • Bandidas Taqueria: This vegetarian Mexican restaurant is the perfect comfort food spot. They make their tortillas in house, have a load of local beers, and even offer a full day breakfast menu.
  • Havana: I love this spot because of the year round patio and delicious sangria. I also love that the menu is always slightly different so you never get bored. The perfect place for friends to get together for Sunday Brunch. 
  • Addis Cafe: One of my favourite restaurants in the entire city is located on the Drive. I have a love for Ethiopian food and Addis is next to none. This is a cosy and casual spot with authentic Ethiopian food. You can bring your own wine, or try their traditional coffee. 
  • Kishimoto: In my opinion, this is the best sushi spot in Vancouver ( I know that is a tall order) but the line outside would also agree with me. From the food presentation to the actual taste, they have really perfected the art. They don’t cut any corners from fresh wild salmon to their edible flower garnishes.

5) Get a sweat in

Sure, when the weather is nice I have really enjoyed working out outside, but let’s be honest it rains a lot here in the winter. I still love to keep up with my fitness even when the weather outside is frightful and have found some amazing local gyms that make working out fun.

  • The Practice Studio: I started working out at the Practice Studio about four months ago and absolutely love it. From the awesome instructors to the unique classes it has really made fitness fun. They also offer a Whole Life Practice so that you can focus on improving all areas of your life form coaching to nutrition.
  • Spin Society: This was the fist class I went to in Vancouver and fell in love instantly. I have always been a big fan of spin classes because of the high intensity and low impact. I loved this class because it literally felt like a workout dance party that targets your entire body.
  • Pure Barre Vancouver: Let me start off by saying this class really scared me because I am so uncoordinated, but you really get such a good workout. I love that it targets muscles I didn’t even know I had through very precise movements.

6) Camping 

While I haven’t had too much free time to explore the beautiful camping spots, it is something I am really looking forward to getting out and doing more of this summer season. I love how naturally beautiful Vancouver is, and how each camping experiences offers an opportunity to see a different side of that beauty.

So far I have just been able to experience camping at Half Nelson. The views from this spot were incredible and there were plenty of mountain bike trails in the area.

I cannot wait to get to know more of this amazing city as I spend more time exploring. I have truly fallen in love with this city in the short time span, and can see why so many people make the move.

I would love any suggestions on your favourite spots to visit so please share some in the comment section below.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo,

Mia

How Priority Pass makes travelling a breeze

Looking for the perfect gift for dad? Well I have a great deal for you, but before I get into that, I wanted to share my experience with Priority Pass with you. 

This past season with the Saskatchewan Rush and the National Lacrosse League, I have sure racked up the air miles. I have been traveling pretty much every weekend for games, and it seems the airport security now knows me on a first name basis. Needless to say, I have probably spent more time at the airport then in my own bed over the last six months.

I used to dread the airport. Long lines, long waits, uncomfortable seating, and loud talkers had me on edge, but I wasn’t an elite status member for any airline, and I wasn’t willing to pay the high prices to sit in first class lounges.

That was when another frequent flyer friend let me know about Priority Pass, the largest independent airport lounge access program in the world. The prestigious program was just what I was looking for. The lounge creates a comfortable,  a quite getaway in the middle of all the airport chaos.

About Priority Pass

While there is no need for travel status with Priority Pass, they definitely treat you first class. Membership offer so many amazing amenities to help me relax before catching my flight. So what exactly is included with Priority Pass?

  • Free pre flight drinks, including beer and wine
  • High speed internet so I can get my work done while I wait
  • Magazines and newspapers to read so that the time flies
  • Some of the lounges even have beds and showers to freshen up before a connecting flight
  • Clean washrooms and no waits

And the list goes on.

How to sign up for Priority Pass

The benefits of this program seemed amazing to me, and as someone who has taken over 35 flights this year alone, it was a must. Registering for Priority Pass is so simple. It is really just three easy steps.

  1. Head to their website and choose the membership plan that fits your travel needs. Then you fill out the enrolment for, which only takes a few minutes.
  2. Once the registration is completed you are in! You receive a confirmation email immediately.
  3. Priority Pass is just one click away. Download the mobile app to get your Digital Membership Card  right to your phone and get flying.

Priority Pass Deal of the Day

Priority Pass really makes the long travel days seem more relaxed and enjoyable. It has made my experience so much better that I wanted to share with all of the travelers in my family.

My dad also travels the world taking pictures for the National Geographic, and so I thought this would be the perfect present for him. The best part is, Priority Pass has a special Father’s Day deal going on right now for the special dads in your life.

Right now, Priority Pass is offering a Father’s Day discount. You can get up to 15% off your membership plans. Meaning that a regular membership that would cost you $99, is now just $84! A 10 visit plan that would normally cost $249, is on sale for $211. And an unlimited plan, that would usually cost $399 is 10% off. The perfect gift for the traveler in your life. Get the perfect gift at up to 15% off for the traveler in your life today

 Priority Pass has made my traveling experience much easier, enjoyable, and relaxing. It is a great way to take the stress out of your trip from take-off to landing. 

Why you need to visit Phoenix’s growing craft brewery scene

With the warmer weather finally here, I am sure that patio beers are on your mind. When I visited Phoenix, Arizona I was surprised to find out that their craft brewery scene was as hot as the weather.  In fact, at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver (basically the oscars of beer) four Phoenix breweries took home awards.

In the last year or so, the city has seen a run of craft beer bars, new breweries, and new local brews popping up all over the area. The total craft breweries in Phoenix surpasses 50, and so I just had to check some of them out for myself.

I joined forces with Arizona Brewery Tours. I really loved working with AZ brewery tours because they offer private brewery tours that fit your particular taste buds and beer preferences.

Stop #1: Helton Brewing Company

Our first stop of the night lead us to Helton Brewing Company, a cozy newly renovated brewery located in an old tire warehouse. The spot includes a beautiful outdoor beer garden, games, live music, and of course an endless drink menu. I loved that the fact the owner of the brewery created most of the furniture inside by hand and really cares about the product he produces. My personal favourite drink was the IPA, a perfect balance between citrus, floral, and fruit. Enjoy it with their delicious shrimp watermelon salad.

Stop #2: Mother Brunch

Next up was Mother Brunch. A fun family run brewery with a chalk list filled with their hand crafted beers. Julie and her husband William are serious beer nerds, and that shows clearly in their delicious drinks. What I really loved about this spot was the combination of delicious drinks and comfort food. The contemporary pub food has a unique twist. You must try the jalapeño infused mac and cheese. You will be licking your plate clean.

Stop #3: North Mountain Brewery

The last stop on the trip was North Mountain Brewery. This place is like a real life Cheers, the set where everyone knows your name. NMB celebrates the history and art of the Arizona desert culture. The decoration of this cozy microbrewery celebrates the history of brewing, and how the creation of beer has brought societies together. The goal here was to create a community feel, and they hit the nail on the head.

I was blown away by the quality of the breweries in Phoenix. Each one had its own personality and speciality that made each one unique. I wish I had more time to explore and discover the amazing breweries spread throughout the town.

Why Phoenix is the best spot for your next girls trip

I had always known the beauty of Arizona. From the stunning landscapes, the depths of the grand canyon, the colours of Horseshoe Bend, but I had always thought of Phoenix as a place where my parents would go for spa days and tee-off times. I was wrong. On a recent trip with some friends to Phoenix, I realized there is so much more to this city. Mixed in-between the desert sands and mountain range, is a bustling nightlife, craft breweries, and adventure that this is the perfect spot for your next girls weekend.

Sure, usually my ladies weekends are a trip away to Vegas or New Orleans. Yet in 48 hours with two close friends, we discovered all that Phoenix has to offer with the help of Visit Phoenix.

The stay

There are so many adorable boutique hotels in the heart of Phoenix, but during this trip we decided to stay a little outside of the hustle. We decided to check into Civana, located in the adorable town of Carefree and trust me the name says it all. This brand new wellness resort is a place of total R&R.

From the moment you walk inside the doors, you know this is a special place. Friendly staff, beautiful mountain views, and a stunning salt water pool surrounded by natural vegetation. It was truly beautiful.

The resort  believes in healing through movement. Civana offers complimentary daily programs including yoga, juice making classes, and local hiking, which I sure took full advantage of. It really has unique activities to fit whatever journey you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of other amenities on site that ensure a relaxing and rejuvenating stay. From their world class spa, to farm to table fine class dining this is spot is the perfect combination of luxury and wellness.

You can find out more about this beautiful resort on their website; https://www.civanacarefree.com/

 

What to do

trying to fit everything Phoenix has to offer into 48 hours was a whirlwind, but we honestly got to see and discover so many unique activities. Here are so of my top things to do with your girlfriends in Phoenix.

1) Enjoy some local brews

What I didn’t know about Phoenix is that it has over 50 craft breweries. We joined forced with Arizona Brewery Tours to discover some of the best spots in town to grab a cold one. What I loved about AZ Brew Tours, is they can organize private tours that fit your beer preferences, and they also provide a party bus from stop to stop.

The three stops we visited during the trip included the rustic “Beer Garage” at Helton Brewery, the open kitchen at Mother Brunch, and the funky North Mountain Brewery. I will have more on the specific breweries in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime you can find out more about Arizona Brewery Tours here;

2) Take a cactus selfie at the Gardens

Sure, Phoenix is filled with wonderful hiking trails, but where can you find and learn about all of the plants in one spot? the Desert Botanical Garden. They really create a world class experience through their exhibits, giving each guest the chance to discover and learn about the desert life. Have a chance to meet one of the gardeners and ask questions about the flowers and vegetation, get up close and personal with some flutter friends at the butterfly sanctuary, and take in the local art. This place is definitely a must see.

3) Tea time with a twist

Visit the Camby hotel for a modern twist on Tea Time, in what we like to call a Tipsy Tea Party. Sip on classic teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey infused with spirt and sparkling wine. The teas were delicious and refreshing. The drinks are also served with some favourite tea time snacks and a surprise sweet treats to finish off the night. It is the perfect afternoon treat for you and your girlfriends.

4) Take to the Skies

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fly? What Phoenix looks like from a birds point of view? For as long as I can remember a hot air balloon ride had been on top of my bucket list, and I had heard Phoenix was the perfect place to make that dream come true. We woke up bright and early and joined Hot Air Expeditions for an high flying adventure. The views of the desert, mountains, and lakes was spectacular. We landed our balloon in the middle of the desert and had breakfast, complete with mimosas to cap off an incredible day.

5) Relax and unwind at the spa

Alright, there are plenty of adventures in Phoenix, but it is important to find some time to relax and unwind also. Phoenix has some of the best spas in the world, why not take full advantage. We stayed local and got a spa service at Civana. I enjoyed an amazing double exfoliating facial. It was the perfect way to finish the trip.

I learned something new about Phoenix on this trip. That beyond the beautiful exterior landscapes, there is a whole city filled with life waiting to be explored. For outdoor lovers to cocktail connoisseurs, there is something for everyone I will definitely be planning plenty of girls trips here in the future.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Here are a few more snaps from Phoenix