Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/)

I admit it. I’m a total backpacking gear geek. So it’s entirely normal for me to quote tent statistics, argue the benefits of down versus synthetic insulation, and gush about pack suspension systems. But when I was still waxing poetic about my Columbia Vixen 22L Daypack almost ten months after I bought it, I knew I was completely smitten.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 10

I purchased this pack from REI in the beginning of April. I was looking for a comfortable fitting pack that was large enough to carry the essentials for a day hike, without being overkill. Since then I have used it in a variety of conditions including: snow hiking in the spring, my trip to Valentines Flats, snowshoeing this winter, and even lending it to my sister to use. The pack has proved to have exactly the features I need, without any superfluous ones that I don’t.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 2
Using the Vixen at Valentine Flats this spring

Let’s break down what I love about this pack, and the few things that could use some improvement.

Features

The Columbia Vixen 22L is a women’s specific daypack with a 22 liter capacity. It has one main panel loading compartment, a small zipper pouch at the top, a stretchy stuff pocket on the front, and two water bottle pockets on the sides. There is also a water bladder sleeve in the main compartment and two zipper pouches on the hipbelt.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 9

I read some complaints that the pack wasn’t divided into smaller sections for organization, but personally I found the compartments it did have worked well. I tend to use the small zipper pouch for important items like car keys, cell phone, money, ID, and a headlamp. The main compartment I organize by using a small dry sack for first aid & survival gear, and a medium dry sack for extra clothes. The outer stretchy pouch is perfect for frequently used items or wet and dirty clothes that you don’t want inside your pack.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 5
Small zipper pouch on the top of the pack: perfect for storing small items like car keys and your phone

The 22 liter capacity is not huge (especially when hauling extra winter gear), but it is sufficient. I like that the pack is hydration system compatible, but make sure you insert your water bladder before your other gear, otherwise it can be a pain to slide it into the sleeve.

The back of the pack is a “trampoline back” which means that your back is held away from the back of the pack by a piece of aerated material.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 3
The trampoline back creates a gap for increased ventilation and airflow

I love this feature because the resulting gap between the pack and yourself almost completely solves the uncomfortable “sweaty back” problem!

The shoulder straps and waist belt are also designed to keep you cool with Columbia’s innovative combination of comfortable Techlite™ foam and mesh.

A built-in whistle on the sternum strap buckle and a system to store your trekking poles when not needed were nice touches. I’m still a little dubious, however, of the Silverback™ reflective lining that, supposedly, “allows you to easily see inside your pack”.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 4
Back view of the pack

Fit

I would probably say that the comfort I feel while wearing this pack is its number one selling feature for me!

This was the first pack I ever bought that had a women’s specific design, and when Columbia says “women specific” they don’t just mean “shrink it and pink it”. The way this pack wraps around my curves and hugs my back without flopping, bouncing, or shifting makes me happy just to think about it! The weight is placed squarely on your hips so the shoulder straps don’t even touch the tops of your shoulder! It practically feels like it’s levitating when I wear it.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 8
Trying out the pack for the first time in April 2015…after one mile the comfort of the pack had me sold!

I do have a warning though, for my petite backpacking sisters… I have to wear this pack with the waist belt tightened almost as far as it will go; my sister Addison wears it tightened all the way. So if you are very slender you might want to pass on this pack…you won’t be able to tighten the waist belt enough and all of the pack weight will be placed improperly on your shoulders.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 6
Addison using the pack during our backpacking trip in September. She loved it so much I almost didn’t get it back from her!

Durability

While this pack has held up fine for me, I would be a little hesitant to recommend it to anyone who is rough on their gear or who will be packing in areas with sharp brush or rocks. The fabric of the pack is strong for holding gear, but quite thin, and I’m afraid it could be easily punctured. The stretchy front and side pockets make me suspect they could be snagged on bushes. Case in point, don’t drag this pack over scree or run through a briar patch with it (not that I would recommend doing this with any pack!) Let’s just say I am infinitely glad I chose not to take this pack on my caving expedition in May!

Price

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for this pack is $129. Comparing it to similar models (like the Osprey Tempest 20) I would say this pack is comparably price for its market. Catching this pack while on clearance and combining it with a coupon, however, helped me to snag the Vixen for a cool $44.73, which for the comfort level and functionality was a steal in my opinion!

Conclusion

The Columbia Vixen is an extremely comfortable pack designed with women in mind. The pack has the perfect amount of space for an all-day summer hike, or a lightly packed winter snowshoe trip. The ventilation system is top notch, and the easily accessible stuff pouch, hip belt pockets, and trekking pole loops put this pack at the top of the line. However, petite individuals or gear abusers might want to steer clear.

The Farming Daughter: Columbia Vixen 22 Pack Review ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/24/columbia-vixen-22-pack-review/) 7
Using the Columbia Vixen while snowshoeing

Where to purchase

Most unfortunately, I bought this pack on clearance because Columbia was discontinuing it. Why they would scrap such an excellent pack is beyond me and I will be on the lookout to see if they start offering a new design with comparable size and features. In the meantime, if you see this pack on eBay or a gear swap I recommend grabbing it!

-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”

Note: This pack was purchased for my own personal use. I was not paid or compensated in any way to purchase, use, or review this pack. The views and opinions expressed are solely my own.

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Jurassic World

The Farming Daughter: Jurassic World movie review (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/30/jurassic-world/)

As administrator of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing has a lot on her plate. Maintaining a 90% approval rating for a park of twenty thousand people isn’t easy, especially when T. Rexs just aren’t wowing the crowds like they used to. And, of course, we don’t want an incident like “the last time”. Not to worry though, the park’s newest attraction, a lab created dino hybrid, is sure to scare the kids…and their parents.

When Zach and Gray come to visit, Claire is a little too preoccupied to have quality auntie/nephew bonding time. Besides, it’s not like she hasn’t seen them in seven years. Oh wait, she hasn’t. Ah well, with VIP passes and Claire’s English assistant to act as nanny, the boys should be fine, even if Zach tends to be rather overbearing to his enthusiastic little brother.

Everything does seem to be going well, until Indominus Rex decides she isn’t content to simply sit back and attract the tourists. The dino begins displaying attributes and intelligence far beyond what her creators ever imagined, and is soon running rampant through the park, with the expected ensuing destruction and chaos. It’s then up to Claire, Zach, Gray, and raptor-handler and former Navy man Owen, to stop I. Rex before it’s too late.

My granny took Addie, Mason, and I to see Jurassic World and we really did enjoy the classic Jurassic experience of chills and thrills. The movie also makes some good points about family and priorities. Self assured Claire is completely consumed with her job, leaving little time or respect for others (on Claire and Owen’s first, and only, date, Claire wrote an itinerary for them to follow). As dinosaurs begin to rampage, however, she learns the importance of depending on and accepting help from others. Likewise, Zach is churlish and impatient with his exuberant younger sibling. It’s only until his and Gray’s lives are at stake that he realizes how much he loves his little brother and begins to defend and comfort Gray.

I also appreciated the parts that pondered the ethics of creating such a fearsome creature as Indominus Rex. When Claire is hesitant to use real bullets on the berserk dinosaur, saying she doesn’t want to turn the park into a war zone, Owen points out, “You already have.”

 Of course the movie has its share of issues, not least of which is the amount of violence subjected to the audience. A film whose basic plot is a dinosaur running amok in an amusement park is bound to contain destruction and mayhem, but Jurassic World seems to delight in showing us every possible way a human can be killed by a dino. People are crushed, tossed, smashed, clawed, and eaten at a frightening rate, many of them unprotected park goers. And while I’m sure the young man sitting next to us appreciated the excuse to wrap his girlfriend with a reassuring arm, it left me thinking.

Does the movie really need that much brutality and bloodshed? I know it’s an action/adventure dinosaur film, but the makers seemed to delight in showing us gratuitous violence. “It’s just a movie,” some people might say, and they’re right. But the things we feed our minds will shape who we are. Maybe watching an overly violent film isn’t going to hurt us, but what happens when violence in films becomes accepted and even expected? Aren’t we in danger of being left desensitized and calloused?

Claire explained how people were no longer satisfied with normal dinosaurs. Consumers want them “bigger, louder, with more teeth”, she says. Maybe we’ve become the same with our movies. But when will we say enough is enough? And will it be before we get consumed?

-The Farming Daughter

Silas Marner

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

-“Life is but a Weaving” by Corrie ten Boom

 

Silas Marner Book Review

Life has dealt Silas Marner harder blows than most would be able to bear. Framed for stealing the church money bag by his best friend (William Dane), Silas is banished from the small congregation at Lantern Yard and forced to leave. Adding even more pain, William convinces Silas’s fiance to break off their engagement and marry William instead. Penniless and rejected, Silas moves to the small village of Raveloe where he becomes a solitary miser. Afraid to trust others, he works ceaselessly at his weaving loom, his only aspiration to increase the stacks of golden guineas he hoards under the floor boards. Marner continues in this way for fifteen years, until one night his unlocked door admits a thief who pilfers the gold. Silas spirals into depression, without his gold he has nothing left to live for. Then, Silas once again leaves his door unlocked, and something far more precious than gold enters his house, and his heart.

Like several of the other books I’ve read for The Classics Club, Silas Marner was already a familiar story to me. However, since the previous version I knew was a dramatized audio version it was nice to read the original book word for word.

I’ll never forget going to a used book sale and finding a set of antique classics. “How much are you asking for the whole set?” I inquired.

“Seven dollars,” was the reply.

“Seven dollars?!” I squealed. “That’s a steal! Look, it even has Silas Marner!”

The attendant raised her eyebrows and looked surprised, “You actually like that book? Most people don’t.”

Well, y’all know I’m definitely not like “most people”, but I’m still unsure why more readers don’t enjoy Silas MarnerI know some are displeased that William Dane and the others who wronged Silas never get what’s coming to them (at least you never hear about it), but to me that’s part of the beauty of the book. Real life doesn’t always have closure; sometimes we don’t get to see the rest of the story or justice enacted, but there can still be forgiveness and healing. 

I think my favorite character was probably Dolly Winthrop, a village woman who befriends Silas and teaches him how to care for Eppie. She often offers advice to Silas, but always in a gentle, humble way that never sounds “preachy”. If I had to take a guess I would venture that Dolly experienced some deep sorrow in her life also, and that’s why she’s able to relate so well to Silas. My one complaint with the book is that’s it’s rather short. If it had been longer maybe the other characters could have been more developed and Dolly’s past could have been explored deeper.

Although on the surface the story seems simple, George Eliot (pen name for Mary Ann Evans) entwines deep philosophical points that will cause you to pause, reflect, and sympathize with the characters. Why do bad things happen? Does God really have a plan for our lives? You may finish the book itself quickly, but it will leave you pondering long after you read the last chapter.

 

Book: Silas Marner

Author: George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

Publish date: 1861

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Finish date: November 2014

Book list number: 7 out of 205

Favorite quotes:

The sense of security more frequently springs from habit than from conviction. 

 

‘But there’s this to be thought on Eppie: things will change, whether we like it or no; things won’t go on for a long while just as they are and no difference.’

 

‘Everything comes to light, Nancy, sooner or later. When God Almighty wills it, our secrets are found out.’

 

‘eh, there’s trouble i’ this world, and there’s things as we can niver make out the rights on. And all as we’ve got to do is to trusten, Master Marner – to do the right things as fur as we know, and to trusten.’

‘Ah, but that ‘ud ha’ been hard,’ said Silas, in an under-tone; ‘it ‘ud ha’ been hard to trusten then.’

‘And so it would,’ said Dolly, almost with compunction; ‘them things are easier said nor done…’

 

‘When a man turns a blessing from his door, it falls to them as take it in.’

 

‘I shall never know whether they got at the truth o’ the robbery…It’s dark to me, Mrs. Winthrop, that is; I doubt it’ll be dark to the last.’

‘Well, yes, Master Marner,’ said Dolly…’I doubt it may. It’s the will o’ Them above as a many things should be dark to us; but there’s some things as I’ve never felt i’ the dark about…You were hard done by that once, Master Marner, and it seems as you’ll never know the rights of it; but that doesn’t hinder there being a rights…’

 

In old days there were angels who came and took men my the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.

 

-The Farming Daughter