Posts in Outdoor Gear


Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1000

If you are looking for a good cheap hardtail mountain bike, then you should expect to spend at least $500 to get something that has quality components and offers you a great ride out there on the trails. Of course, the best bikes often have really high price tags, but mtbers on a budget can easily find affordable bikes under 1000 dollars that will last for several years.

So, if you take your mountain biking seriously, but need something with a low price, let me share some of the top models on the market right now. In this price range, Diamondback offers the most options that represent a good mountain bike for the money, but you’ll also see a few other brands in the mix thanks to discount sale prices online that you can’t get in stores.

One thing to keep in mind is that the mtbs listed below are hardtail bikes and not full suspension. If you’re not clear on the differences, take a look at this before you start shopping.

Top 10 Cheap Hardtail Mountain Bikes in 2015

Diamondback 2015 Line Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback 2015 Line Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
BEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Complete BicycleBEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Complete Bicycle5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
Diamondback 2015 Overdrive Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback 2015 Overdrive Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)
Diamondback Women's 2015 Lux Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback Women's 2015 Lux Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Diamondback 2015 Axis Sport Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback 2015 Axis Sport Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
Diamondback Overdrive Expert 29er Mountain BikeDiamondback Overdrive Expert 29er Mountain Bike5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
SE Bikes Big Mountain 24-Speed D Hard Tail Mountain BicycleSE Bikes Big Mountain 24-Speed D Hard Tail Mountain Bicycle4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
Diamondback 2014 Overdrive Sport Mountain BikeDiamondback 2014 Overdrive Sport Mountain Bike4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)
Diamondback 2015 Hook Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback 2015 Hook Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
Diamondback 2014 Axis Sport Mountain Bike Diamondback 2014 Axis Sport Mountain Bike 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

BEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Review

BEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Complete BicycleEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Complete Bicycle

If you want a mtb under 1000 bucks that is not made by Diamondback, then I definitely suggest that you check out this BEIOU mountain bike. While the retail price of this one in stores is over $1000, you can get a nice discount on it at Amazon that makes it cheaper.

This is actually one of the cheapest mtbs that BEIOU makes, which means that you get a heck of a lot for your money with this one. It comes in four different color combo designs that you can choose from. Here are the top specs for this bike:

  • Material: Toray T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Speed Control System: SHIMANO ALTUS 370 (9S)
  • Flat Handlebar: BEIOU Aluminum 600mm/31.8mm

This one is definitely a great bike if you don’t mind spending most of your budget to get it. Once you ride this one, you’ll never want to get off it.

Diamondback 2015 Axis Sport Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike Review

Diamondback 2015 Axis Sport Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback 2015 Axis Sport Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike

When it comes to good entry level mountain bikes, this model is one of my favorites. It handles well, whether on a flat stretch of trail or a steep, bumpy incline. You get smooth acceleration and easy climbs when you take this bike out on the trails.

Of all the mtbs on the list above, this one right here is probably the best value for the money. It is the perfect match of quality components and affordable price. And being a Diamondback bike, you know that it’s gonna be a decent quality bike.

Here’s a quick glance at the top specs for this one:

  • Extras: chainstay protector, bottle mounts
  • Wheelset: DB SL-7
  • Handlebar Width: 720 mm
  • Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.25 in
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCR-LO

Overall, I think you will have a lot of fun out there with this mountain bike. And if you’re rough on your bikes, then you’ll be pleased to know that this one can take a beating and keep on going.

Diamondback Women’s 2015 Lux Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike Review

Diamondback Women's 2015 Lux Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback Women’s 2015 Lux Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike

If you’re a woman in search of a good mountain bike, then you probably already know how limited the selection is out there. However, Diamondback knows that women enjoy hitting the trails and this Lux mtb for women is actually a pretty good mountain bike for the money. Even if you don’t mind riding the unisex or men’s mountain bikes, just give this one a try and see if you don’t end up preferring it in the end.

I’d firmly put this one in the beginner or entry-level mtb category because, though it is a decent bike, it doesn’t have the top of the line components. Of course, this should come as no shock to you since it’s so cheap. Now, if you are new to mountain bike or want something for occasional use or for easier trails, then this bike is the perfect choice for you. I’m hesitant to advise this one for more experienced riders or those who want something to also use for road riding. Why? Because the shocks and brakes could be better. That being said, there is really nothing wrong with this bike – I just want you to be aware of what you’re getting with it.

Take a look at the specs:

  • Devine designs women’s specific fit 6061-t6 aluminum alloy frame with added stand over clearance
  • 27.5″ Wheels provide great traction and a stable ride
  • Sr sun tour soft spring 80mm suspension fork provides a compliant ride
  • Shimano 8-speed shifters and derailleurs deliver reliable performance
  • Disc brakes provide great stopping power

One of the really nice things about this one is the frame size choices. I think this one is actually the smallest size frame that Diamondback makes, with a 15-inch frame size option that is perfect for petite women. So, if you’re on the short side when it comes to height, you will love the smallest frame size that this model comes in (it also goes up to a 19-inch frame).

Posts in Health & Wellness


Almond Milk vs Coconut Milk – Best Healthy Choice

almond milkYou’re probably looking for an alternative to dairy milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Two of the most talked about alternatives are almond milk and coconut milk, and you might have come across people debating which one is better.

The Case for Almond Milk

Many people prefer almond milk to any dairy substitute. Taste is the major factor. They say it’s smooth and it tastes good. Almond milk is not a good source of protein though. It may have nutrients, like calcium and some vitamins, but these not inherent to almond milk and are only added to it during production. Some manufacturers add lecithin and thickening agents to their almond milk products to improve texture and consistency.

Almond milk is, of course, made of ground and toasted almonds. One of the best things about this dairy milk substitute is the low calories it packs. A cup contains only about 30 calories. Compare that with conventional milk, which more or less has 150 calories per cup. Plus most of the calories from almond milk comes from good fats.

Just like conventional milk, almond milk is easy to prepare. Blend it with water, hot or cold, and drink. Enjoy your low calorie drink. Those are some of its benefits.

What About Coconut Milk?

The coconut milk tastes, well, like coconut. It is a great choice nutrition-wise. Coconut is renowned for its medium-chain triglycerides and lauric acid, which the body easily burns. MCTs have many health benefits. If you want the low-calorie version, just opt for the unsweetened coconut milk. Like almond milk, it’s also low in protein and calcium. So it’s not your alternative to dairy milk if you’re looking to add more protein and calcium into your diet.

Another gripe about coconut milk is that manufacturers have to add artificial flavors and thickeners to get that natural milk consistency and texture. That means you get more stuff in your drink than necessary.

You can make your own version that is devoid of unnecessary additives by blending a cup of dried coconut flakes in two cups of boiling water. Strain afterwards. Take note it’s still low in protein and calcium. And those are some of its benefits.

So which is better?

Before you think about buying dairy milk substitutes, consider the processing of these products. They are most likely over-processed with many unneeded additives–sugars, preservatives, and texture enhancers. Of course, the purpose is to make their shelf lives longer and mimic the consistency of natural milk.

However, manufacturers have also fortified milk products with vitamins and minerals, so you get more for every calorie of the product. Nevertheless, the substitutes still pale in comparison to dairy milk when it comes to protein and calcium.

Eventually, the battle becomes somewhat a stalemate. Neither almond milk nor coconut milk is actually better than the other. You get two contenders whose qualities are not up to par with the conventional. If you’re not lactose intolerant and if you don’t have problems drinking regular milk, continue doing so. If you’re lactose intolerant, just consider other sources of calcium, like kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, which are excellent sources of this mineral. You can always get your protein from lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and legumes.

Posts in Indoor Gear


Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat Reviews

Though I prefer being active outside, there are times when that it just not an option. So, during colder months and on rainy days, I like to fill my time by doing a bit of pilates and yoga. Though I have friends who insist that you need everything from yoga towels to special yoga socks, I find that a good yoga mat is really all that I need to get the job done. Plus, it is a one-time purchase thing and that makes it a very cheap and frugal activity, which is even better if you ask me.

Even though I am ashamed to admit it, I bought my first yoga mat a few years ago at a local Wal-Mart. It was cheap and had a terrible smell and I hated using it because of that smell. I later learned that most yoga mats are made from petrochemicals that have toxic gasses in them and that is what was causing the smell. It was basically off-gassing and I was, in turn, breathing in all those nasty fumes while doing my workout.

You better believe that I immediately went out to find me a good, quality yoga mat that is free of petrochemicals. I know that not everyone out there is concerned about the possible health effects of such things, so at least consider the environmental implications and choose a yoga mat that is eco-friendly.

Of course, the “eco-friendly” label doesn’t always mean that you buying a good product. Often, it just means that the yoga mat doesn’t have any PVC in it, or polyvinyl chloride. Though it’s great that you can get something free of this type of plastic, it doesn’t mean that the mat is free of cadmium, lead or phthalates. And this is especially important for pregnant women as these are known hormone disrupters.

Instead, you need an eco-friendly pilates and yoga mat that is made only from sustainable or biodegradable materials. And I can help you find one. I have selected the best mats that meet this criteria and listed them down below. Keep reading to see these products.

Types Of Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats

During your search, you will come across three basic types of non-toxic yoga mats. These eco-friendly options are:

  • natural rubber yoga mats
  • alternative plastic yoga mats
  • plant fiber yoga mats

Before you head out to do some comparison shopping, know the the prices for each type is roughly the same, so you do not have to worry about which is the cheapest. Instead, stick to your personal preference when buying a non-toxic yoga mat.

Natural rubber yoga mats are made from a good renewable energy source; the rubber tree. The material is also biodegradable. Since this material is also known as natural rubber latex, people who have a latex allergy cannot use this type of mat. Instead, you’ll have to look for a latex-free mat.

Alternative plastic mats are synthetic, which makes them good for people with a latex allergy. However, the synthetic plastics used are “TPE,” thermoplastic elastomers, or “PER,” or polymer environmental resin, both of which are technically supposed to be free of toxic substances. However, PER is actually made with PVC, which makes it something that I would avoid. On the other hand, TPE is biodegradable and a good choice.

Plant fiber mats are probably the most eco-friendly option as they are made from a renewable source – jute, hemp and/or cotton – and are biodegradable. The only potential issue that I see with this type of mat is the prevalence of GMO cotton. For that reason, I suggest shopping only for certified organic plant fiber yoga mats.

Top Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats For The Money

1. Manduka eKO Lite 2.0 Wet-Grip Natural Tree Rubber Yoga Mat

best price Manduka eKO Lite 2.0 Wet-Grip Natural Tree Rubber Yoga Mat

This thin yoga mat is made of material from the natural rubber tree, however those with a latex allergy can still use it. The mat is 99.9% latex-free and non-allergenic.

The wet-grip surface is one of its best features as it offers great slip resistance. That makes it good for use on hardwood floors and for hot yoga.

One important thing to know about this mat is that it does have a slight plastic scent when it is new. This is nothing to worry about though as it is not harmful since it is from the natural rubber tree.

You can show off your personality with this mat as it is available in a few different color choices. Available options include:

  • green
  • red
  • purple
  • blue

To clean this mat, all you need is some organic cleaner or organic soap and a soft cloth. Anything stronger can harm the mat.

Full specs for this mat are:

  • wet-grip surface for even better slip resistance
  • made of natural rubber mat
  • closed cell construction to resist bacteria
  • non-allergenic and 99.9% latex free
  • recyclable and biodegradable
  • no PVC or oil-based eco materials (like TPE or PER)
  • no phthalates or toxic foaming agents found in other rubber eco yoga mats
  • scent free (after initial break-in period)
  • mat size: 3mm

If you prefer a thick or long yoga mat, you can order this exact model in a longer and thicker version – click here.

2. MRS Fitness Organic Yoga Mat

best price MRS Fitness Organic Yoga Mat

Personally, I prefer the thick yoga mats and that is one thing that this MRS Fitness Organic yoga mat has going for it.

I also enjoy that the surface is textured as I sometime slip a little when I am trying to get into my poses. However, the slip-resistant surface is not as good as the Manduka eKO Lite 2.0. In fact, I would suggest anyone planning to do hot yoga to skip this mat.

If you need a latex-free yoga mat, then this one is a good choice as it is made from thermoplastic elastomer.

Cleaning this mat is the same as with the model above – use a soft cloth and a mild organic cleaner. When you’re ready to order, there are three color choices to choose from: blue, pink, or purple.

One of the top features of this mat is that it comes with a lifetime guarantee warranty. So, if you are rough on your yoga mats, then this model is a great option since it will be replaced for free if it rips or anything like that.

The full features list for this mat are:

  • Textured surface to prevents slipping and reduce injuries
  • Double layer 6mm thick
  • Made of recyclable and biodegradable materials
  • Lifetime guarantee – never buy another mat
  • Measures 24 x 72 inches
  • hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and toxin-free product

3. Hugger Mugger Sattva Jute Mat

best price Hugger Mugger Sattva Jute Mat

I’m really intriguing by plant fiber mats since they are the most eco-friendly and this Hugger Mugger eco-friendly yoga mat is one of the best available.

It comes in at just a wee bit thicker than most standard yoga mats and works great for hot yoga. Being made of jute, the mat is very durable as jute is one of the strongest plant fibers. Jute also happens to be resistant to mildew.

There is one feature on this mat that I am not a fan of though and that is the non-slip coating on the back side of the mat. Though I appreciate that the coating prevents that mat from easily sliding on my hardwood floor, I hate that the coating is made of PER.

That being said, this is still a great choice when it comes to yoga mats that are eco-friendly.

Click Here For More Eco Friendly Yoga Mats

Posts in Fitness


You Should Play Basketball for Weight Loss

basketballYou can burn more than 700 calories an hour playing basketball. Unlike running on a treadmill, basketball is more of a fun activity for more people. You won’t play basketball because you want to lose weight. You most likely would play basketball because you enjoy it.

Most people do well with their fitness regimen when they enjoy what they are doing. So if you like sports, stick with your sport and watch yourself get fit. Keep in mind, though, that physical activity is just a factor in weight loss. The other equally important factor is diet.

How can basketball make you lose weight?

Any sport is like a cardio workout. When you spend one hour sprinting, running around, dribbling, and jumping, you’re firing up your muscles and burning calories. However, for any physical activity to be an effective means to weight loss, it should be done at the right intensity and frequency. You can’t play basketball just whenever you like and expect to shed pounds just like that.

It’s actually the repetitive motions that give basketball the ability to train your cardiovascular system. Running around, passing the ball, sprinting, and jumping for an hour constitute train your heart and lungs and boost your muscular endurance just like any cardio workout. In fact, basketball can be considered high-intensity cardio workout.

Basketball trains different muscle groups.

Basketball recruits the calves, quads, and hamstrings chiefly. These are essentially the main muscle groups that power your thighs and legs. You’re able to leap, sprint, and jump because of these muscles. These muscles get toned and gain strength as you engage in basketball on a regular basis. It’s hard to find out basketball players with tiny calves.

Maintaining balance is also essential during the game. You owe much of your balance to your core muscles, the muscles that surround your midsection, basically your abdominal, side, and back muscles. They do the hard work to keep you from falling over.

Of course, throwing and receiving the ball requires well-built arm and chest muscles.

So playing basketball has some strength training components. It fires up your muscles. You’re tearing up muscle fibers during the game. Repairing these muscle fibers, which happens during rest, burns calories. This is why people who do high-intensity workout have the advantage of post-workout calorie burn, something joggers and walkers don’t get.

Weight Loss Tips with Basketball

  1. Warm-up before playing. Do dynamic stretching for 10 minutes. Jog around to increase your breathing and heart rate.
  2. Play basketball for 30-60 minutes a day. That should make you burn about 300-500 calories, depending on how intense you play.
  3. Know your limits. Beginners have muscles and joints not primed for high intensity sports and thus should be careful. Don’t overwork yourself.
  4. Move as swiftly as you can. One secret to higher calorie burns in any cardio workout is to move fast, but again not to the point of complete exhaustion and muscular strain.
  5. Cool down after your game by jogging and walking.