Ramblers Way suits this rambler’s way

The parcel from Ramblers Way arrived with perfect timing. I was packing for a 20-day, 6,000 mile, truck-camping trip to Ramblers-Way-Farm-logoMaine and back. I might see a washer and dryer at the midway point, but nice-looking, packable, stink-resistant tops would be key. They’d have to be versatile: for city and country, for hiking and reporting stints. They’d have to be warm or cool, depending on weather conditions over three weeks and 20 states.

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Like the perfectly chosen audio book or the most comfortable pair of hiking shoes, these tops were the tops. They helped make the trip easy and enjoyable.

I tried the women’s Henley tank, crew neck and quarter zip polo – all sized medium, in a warm charcoal grey of superfine Rambouillet wool.

“Itchy wool?” you ask.

On the Ramblers Way road

On the Ramblers Way road

No, yummy-next-to-the-skin, lightweight, delectable wool. Not your grandfather’s, scratchy beard wool, I reply.

The three items can be worn together or on their own. I mixed and matched. On a balmy Colorado walk and for a sultry college commencement in New York, the Henley tank served marvelously on its own and under a blazer.

The long-sleeved crew has the perfect neckline for showing off a necklace, but isn’t so scooped to make it inappropriate for active use. I wore it hiking and tucked it into my jeans for a slightly neater look and a dinner engagement.

To be honest, I also wore both as pajama tops, that’s how inseparable I was to these separates.

The quarter zip feels a bit like your favorite flannel shirt, but it’s warmer, classier and exponentially more versatile.

When I buy fabrics like wool or silk, a red flag immediately goes up: What about the dry cleaning or handwashing?

rwwRamblers Way items can be tossed in the washer and dryer. The care instructions say you can also hand wash and line dry them, but they held up well to my regular, no-fuss wash and dry treatment.

The last requirement for an active traveler, of course, is pack-ability. All of the tops were crammed into my pack (they’re made of fine, four and five ounce knit and compact exceedingly well). I even balled up the crew neck and used it to help with my sciatic pain while driving. They retained their shape perfectly and always looked wrinkle-free.

They might cost a bit more, but there’s something to be said for feel, the literal and more thoughtful varieties.

It’s nice on the skin. And, with Ramblers Way’s mission of sustainability and Made in America values, it’s nice on the brain, too.

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Ramblers Way, talking with Tom

We met Tom Chappell and his new company, Ramblers Way, at the Outdoor Retailer earlier this year.

Most of us know Chappell (pronounced “chapel”) from Tom’s of Maine, the hugely successful, natural toothpaste and personal

Tom Chappell

Tom Chappell

care product company bought by Colgate-Palmolive in 2006.

So, what’s this new gig for the tall, white-haired man who grew up on a farm and spent many a day riding his horse in the fields of Uxbridge, Massachusetts?

Chappell, 72, first brainstormed the Maine clothing company after a trek with his son in Wales, to celebrate the Tom’s of Maine $100 million sale.

They hiked for two weeks in cool, rainy weather. He tried all variety of garb – polypropylene, capilene, silk, wool, cotton – yet, he found nothing would keep him warm, dry, and body-odor free during those 12-mile, rambling days.

He admired the local sheep, seemingly comfortable and content in their own coats.

Ramblers-Way-Farm-logo“My first concept was to have something soft and comfortable, not scratchy, but that would insulate,” said Chappell by phone last month. “I wanted it for active, outdoor use.”

Read review of Ramblers Way products.

He did some research. (His wife, Kate, says he stayed retired for just a few weeks.)

He learned that by using the superfine fibers of the Rambouillet sheep, one could create soft, fine yarn that didn’t itch. From that, you can make light, insulating, breathable clothing.

With help from family members (son Chris Chappell helps on the technological side and daughter Eliza Chappell is a designer.), the company was born in 2009. With their help, the senior Chappell has learned about bounce rates, click-through-rates, and the world of Internet sales.

“If customers see an image of a white-haired guy in a Volvo, they’re just going to move off,” he recalled.

Ramblers Way is not another clothing company, selling high-end products sourced and made in China. Chappell, who earned a Masters from the Harvard Divinity School in 1991, wanted to create something more meaningful and valuable.

Tom Chappell with Rambouillet sheep

Tom Chappell with Rambouillet sheep

Heard of “ethical fashion?” It’s an umbrella term describing a range of issues including working conditions, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare in the production and sale of clothing.

Ramblers Way is ethical fashion. The wool comes sheep in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Maine. It’s sent to mills in the North and South Carolina, then sewn by garment makers in Fall River, Massachusetts. Natural enzymes are used to clean the wool. Plant extracts are used to dye it. And the company has a thorough plan for sustainability which includes geothermal and solar energy for their offices in Kennebunk, Maine.

It started out exclusively on line and as appealing most directly to Baby Boomers. But Chappell learned that reaching younger buyers was crucial. The clothes are now geared for “value-centric” shoppers who are “stylish, fit, and trim,” he said.

He also found he disliked the “lack of relationships” inherent in the online-only entity, said Chappell. So, they connected with retailers. Its clothing is now in 400 independent clothing stores.

Read review of Ramblers Way products.

Remembering our beloved equines

166-2Memorial Day was established about 150 years ago to honor those who died serving our country. But at NickerNews, we’d like to appropriate it to remember our beloved horses, those who’ve served us throughout the years.

Consider visiting the Memorial pages, a special, dedicated section of our website. Watch the video, “Hoofprints On Our Souls” and scroll through the dozens of heartfelt tributes, left by NickerNews readers.

There is a new memorial to Sackett, who died of colic earlier this spring. Read more about Sackett.

Have you lost a horse? Please add it to our Memorial pages.

sDo you have a senior horse? You might consider reading “When is the When?” It’s a lengthy discussion of choices we make when considering the older, hard-keeper. It can be helpful to talk within a community about tough decisions. This article does just that. The comments are as elucidating as the article and proof that there’s a big difference between what we feel in our hearts and what we know in our heads.

Additional notes concerning the death of an equine:

Brittany Fantarella runs Braids by Britt and makes keepsakes from mane and tail hair. Bracelets, fobs, keychains, and more. Read more about it here or visit her facebook page.

For many Mainers, it’s neither feasible nor legal to bury your loved one on the farm. Michelle Melaragno runs Compassionate Composting, a green alternative to burial, landfill or cremation. It’s a smart choice and Melaragno handles everything with the utmost respect. Visit the website here.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! And don’t forget to tip your figurative hat to all those equines who’ve lightened our loads over the years.



Check out this app

appsThere are scores of horse-related applications for smart phones. Starting today with the Check Out This App!, we’ll review a few that cross our palms.

Our marketing director, Emily Thomas Luciano, takes the reins for this premier post. She writes:
Horse 360
$1.99-$9.99 (depending on the bundle)
for iPhone and Android
Horse 360 has been around for a few years (I’ve had it since 2012), and has evolved a bit since its inception. It started solely as a trivia game that focused on equine anatomy that progressed in difficulty with each level. Now, they’ve added a “vet talk” aspect of the app that helps users better understand the sometimes complicated lingo and horse 360_hidlvocabulary that our veterinarians use. I’ve had a blast with this app over the past couple of years. It’s helped me improve my knowledge of my horse’s anatomy and is a must on road-trips.

Ride Alert
iPhone and Android
My dad, Jim Thomas, who works and trains horses alone 99% of the time, actually turned me on to this app. It works by monitoring your activity while you move and in the event that you should have an accident and are injured or incapacitated, will AUTOMATICALLY send an Alert to your chosen buddies – friends, family members, colleagues, etc.
ride alertSet your Ride Alert App to Auto Motion Mode by pressing the START BUTTON when you set out on a journey, cycling, skiing, running, on horseback, etc. Your mobile phone now detects movement.
If you are moving, so is your mobile and the App is happy that all is well. If an accident occurs and/or you stop moving, your App thinks that something is wrong and after 60 seconds or more (depending on how you set it up), Ride Alert warns you, audibly and with vibration that it has stopped moving and is about to send an AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY ALERT message to all your active buddies.

iPhone only (Android is in production)
This is a fun little app developed by SmartPak, similar to Horse 360 because of the trivia aspect, but it expands past anatomy and into four categories: History, Health, Colors and Breeds, and Fun Facts. From the outside it looks fluffy, but you’d be surprised at the difficulty of some of the questions! Answer questions correctly within the time limit to earn ribbons in four different categories.
Beware, it can be addicting!
Maddy adds:

My kids say I don’t deserve to use a smart phone. My ineptness and discomfort is that complete.
But I have found a few apps of note. Three are in various stages of development.
A handy US Public Lands app for $2.99. It can tell you where and under which specific agency you’re riding. That’s helpful since different lands have different policies. National park, US forest, Bureau of Land Management, National monument are all handily color-coded. With so much public land in western states, it’s helpful or, at the vary least, fun to surf.
StretchYourHorse app. Ilene Nessenson is seeking crowd funding for this app to provide stretching exercises and discussion at your fingertips. To include videos and explanations. Check out her kickstarter page here.

Don’t forget Stablefax. The horse management app that allows you to place all your horses’ care needs and specifics on one app and share them with whoever you’d like. It’s now available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad, $4.99.
Stay tuned for more information. Interested in reviewing it? Let us know! Click here to contact us.


See you at the Equine Affaire

eamapThis just in:

NickerNews and BestHorsePractices will be at this year’s Equine Affaire!

We’ll have a fantastic booth in the Better Living Center. It’ll be bristling with activity including giveaways (bumper stickers and lip balms) as well as raffles for great prizes, including Cotopaxi’s Perfect Barn Coat.

Stay tuned for details and make sure to visit us!


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