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As spring is just around the corner it's time to start thinking about trail time. Get out the old boots or better yet, shop for some new ones. If you like a stiffness of a boot but like the low cut of a shoe you're going to love the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe
LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe Features
- UPPERS: Abrasion-resistant split leather and CORDURA®. Lightweight uppers support freedom of movement, while protecting and stabilizing the ankle.
- LINING: Waterproof breathable GORE-TEX®.
- C4 TONGUE: Anatomically contoured to cradle the foot in comfort.
- FOOTBED: Balance Comfort.
- MIDSOLE: Ultra-cushioning PU-midsole.
- OUTSOLE:The new LOWA 'Trac® Lite' outsole, features a self-cleaning tread design with increased surface area to provide excellent grip on rocky, uneven terrain.
- STABILIZER: 5mm Nylon Heel/2mm Forefoot
- Price: $195.00
LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe ReviewIf a backpacking boot and a hiking shoe got together their offspring would be the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe. It is a nice blend of backpacking support and low hiker versatility. The uppers feature the classic boot styling of leather. We all know the benefits of leather, longevity, comfort, durability. It does a good job of shedding water and dirt. The upper is lined with GORE-Tex making it fully waterproof, just don't step too deep. The Focus LO is cut low like a hiking shoe giving a greater range of movement and a less restrictive fit. To help support ankle the heel cup is quite stiff and the boot cradles your ankle for added support. An aggressive Y-patterned tread provide plenty of on-trail traction on hardpack, sand, mud, and gravel. The sole is very stiff, the kind of stiffness you'd expect from a backpacking boot. You won't be running in these shoes. From a load carrying standpoint, you will get the support needed for heavy days on the trail. I had mixed feelings on the performance of the Focus LO. I can see the intent of marrying a lightweight hiking shoe with the core features of a boot but it didn't work for me. If I want the support of a boot, give me a boot. If I want a versatile lightweight shoe, give me the shoe. I felt clunky on the trail. There is no question on the quality and durability of the Focus LO. If you are looking for a shoe that can go and go and go the Focus LO is it. The quality, materials, and craftsmanship leave nothing to be desired and will last a long, long time. The Good
- Great Traction
- High Quality
- Wasn't a fan of the mix of boot and shoe
Bottom Line:If you are in the market for a shoe that performs like a boot, the LOWA Focus GTX LO is your shoe. Buy Now: Pick up the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe[gallery]... Read more...
I've been itching to test out some Patagonia trail run gear. This past winter Patagonia gave me the opportunity to test the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket, their lightweight, minimalist running and cycling jacket.
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket Features
- Extremely breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX® Active fabric is durably waterproof and windproof
- Self-fabric stand-up collar is lined with lightweight mesh for comfort
- Upper arm zippers can be unzipped to facilitate air flow through the jacket toward the back venting system
- Comfortable articulated sleeve with fold-over cuff converts to mitt for wet/cold weather protection
- Small waterproof pocket at center back holds essentials
- Low-profile drawcord at hem
- Reflective logos at left chest and center-back neck
- Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Fit: Athletic with articulated sleeves
- MSRP: $279
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket ReviewOff the hanger you can tell that the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket is packed with Patagonia quality and style. It features an athletic cut and fit, smooth seams and stitching, and is lightweight. The Light Flyer is made with 3-layer GORE-TEX Active and weighs in at a scant 9.1 ounces. It offers full weather protection, laughing in the face of the storm. It sheds rain, wind, and snow with ease. It features an athletic cut for optimal movement while running. Articulated sleeves help with comfort while running or riding the bike. The cuffs are cut long over the hands for some extra protection and also feature a fold-over mitt for even more protection. The Light Flyer also features a drop-tail, giving you extra protection when riding in wet conditions. In terms of fit, I am 6 feet tall, weight 180 pounds, and have a positive ape index (arms are long). I typically wear a size large for the body but need an extra-large for sleeve length. The Light Flyer in large fit my perfectly. Snug enough to not be annoying when moving with just enough extra to not restrict movement, even with a midweight layer on. The sleeves were plenty long but I did find the fold-over cuffs to be very snug. For someone without long arms they likely would be fine. GORE-TEX Active, as you can guess, is GORE's most breathable technology. It did perform pretty well from a ventilation standpoint. To help with ventilation the Light Flyer features two long, vertical back vents that are always "on" and zippered vents in the upper arms. The back vents are a nice touch but I was let down with the arm vents. First, the zippers were extremely stiff. I wasn't able to unzip them one handed, even after months of use. Next when running they almost always folded shut. It's due to the natural curve of the fabric over my arm but they almost always stayed closed. The only times they stayed open was when there was wind, either from the wind or when riding. The Light Flyer features a single pocket on the small of the back. Good placement for running, bad placement for biking if you ride with a pack. I found that the zipper would get pressed into the small of my back which was very uncomfortable. The pocket is small, literally big enough for an iPhone 4 (the iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S II wouldn't fit) OR a single key and a gel. With the pocket being so small the utility of it was very low. As a daily bike commuter, I always love to see reflective detailing. The logos on the front and back of the jacket are reflective. It's not a lot, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have that extra visibility in low light. Overall I have been impressed with the Light Flyer. Sure there are some smaller features that could be better but overall the jacket is fantastic. The Good
- High performing
- Great weather protection
- Single pocket is too small to be useful
- Arm vents are hard to unzip and don't stay open
Bottom Line:For top performance and full weather protection for running and riding, pick up the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
The Columbia Ultrachange Parka is unlike any other Columbia jacket I've seen and tested. Columbia gave me the opportunity to test one this past winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review Features
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated liner
- Omni-Wick EVAP advanced evaporation
- Omni-Dry ultrabreathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- 3-point Interchange System
- Liner with breathable stretch panels
- Attached, adjustable storm hood
- Helmet compatible hood
- Vented hand pockets
- 2-way center front zipper
- Waterproof zippers
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Skinny seam seal tape
- Contoured sleeve cuffs
- Backpack compatible
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Drop tail
- 24 oz (Shell: 11.2 oz. Liner: 12.8 oz.)
- Center back length: 29.5”
- MSRP: $450
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review ReviewThe Columbia Ultrachange Parka truly is a few steps above any other Columbia jacket I've tested. I was very impressed with it. The Ultrachange is 3 jackets in 1. It comes with an outer shell and a liner jacket. You can mix and match to get the protection that you need. The shell is lightweight coming in at 11.2 ounces. It's not the lightest on the market but that is still good for a protective shell. It is made with their Omni-Dry and Omni-Wick EVAP for weather protection and breathability. The jacket surface is textured which gives it a couple of extra design points. From a performance standpoint the Ultrachange shell gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me. It is great with weather protection. In the rain water would bead up and run off. It shed snow and buffeted wind. It does lose a star on breathability. It did seem to perform better than other Columbia jackets I've tested but I still overheated pretty easily. To help with venting the oversized hand pockets are vented. The shell is packed with other features as well. The arms are plenty long, no sleeve hiking when I extend my long arms. They do feature drop cuffs, giving your hands a little extra coverage. Velcro closures help keep the sleeves closed and in place. A full-sized, brimmed hood features three adjustments to keep the hood in place, even in the gnarliest winds. A drop-tail helps keep your rear dry and powder out. A rubber-lined bottom hem and two drawstrings also help keep the jacket in place. All pockets feature waterproof zippers with generous pull tabs that are even big enough for winter gloves to use. Two hand and one chest pocket help keep your belongings organized. For the hikers out there the hand pockets are big enough to fit skins, though the mesh vents will let the melting water in. From a durability standpoint I'd give the shell 3 out of 5 stars. After a winter of use water still beads up and runs off, however, the fabric is prone to tears. First run through the trees (not even gnarly trees) I came away with three little tears in the right sleeve. Nothing a little duct tape won't fix, but for a $450 jacket, I'd like to not have to worry about skiing trees. The liner jacket jacket is filled with synthetic insulation and lined with Omni-Heat. On it's own, it's a good cold weather jacket when you just need protection from the cold. The shell will give slight water protection but not much. It does feature stretch panels under the arms for cooling and movement which is a nice touch. It does feature two large, lined handwarmer pockets, which help the liner stand out on it's own. The Omni-Heat lining helps give some extra warmth performance. The liner does fasten into the shell with three loop/snap closures. Pair the shell with the liner and you have a formidable winter jacket. Fully weatherproof and extremely warm. I dug the full Ultrachange for night skiing trips and cold days at the resort. I usually wore just the shell when hiking for turns and the just the liner around town. The Good
- Good feature set
- Fabric durability
Bottom Line:Each year Columbia gets better and better and the Ultrachange is the best I've seen from them yet. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review [gallery]... Read more...
Everybody needs a good winter time cold weather/snow boot. Okay, people in the south are exempt but it's true for everyone else. For me I wanted a simple boot that wasnt bulky and would keep me warm and dry. I found that in the KEEN Incline Mid Boot. KEEN sent me a pair this winter to test out.
KEEN Incline Mid Boot Features
- 200g KEEN.Warm™ insulation
- Dual climate non-marking rubber outsole
- KEEN.DRY ™ waterproof breathable membrane
- Patented toe protection
- Thermal heat shield footbed
- TPU stability shank
- Waterproof leather upper
- Price: $140.00
KEEN Incline Mid Boot ReviewIn short the KEEN Incline Mid Boot is a good winter boot. The style is simple and they are warm. The KEEN Warm insulation is just that, warm. I have no idea what 200g means but it's enough for general winter use. In temperatures in the teens, sledding with the kids,shoveling the driveway, walking around, my feet stayed plenty warm. KEEN Dry is their proprietary waterproof membrane and it performed well. I took the opportunity to stomp through some puddles and wade through some slush and I didn't get any water seepage. The height of the boot is good. High enough to keep all but the deepest snow out (that is if you aren't wearing snow pants) but not so high to impede movement. The top of the boot isn't very bulky. I could easily pull my jeans over top of the boots. I did have to loosen the boots a lot to get my foot to slide in. It would be nice to have a little more room to get in. They do feature a wide, thick pull loop so you can really yard on the boots if you need. Traction was decent even on packed snow. Still experienced a fair amount of slipping on icy sidewalks but that is to be expected. For the price, the Incline Mid Boot is a great choice and I'm looking forward to years of use out of them. The Good
- A little tight getting your foot in
Bottom Line:Warm, dry, comfortable, priced right. Buy Now: Pick up the KEEN Incline Mid Boot [gallery]... Read more...
Everyone needs a good knife. If you spend a lot of time in the woods or wilderness and you want to be prepared, you need a knife that can get you out of a lot different situations. Enter the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife. I had the chance to test out the Ultimate Knife this past fall courtesy of Gerber.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife Features
- High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade - Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
- Ergonomic Textured Rubber Grip - Maximizes comfort and reduces slippage
- Stainless Steel Pommel - At base of handle for hammering
- Emergency Whistle - Integrated into lanyard cord
- Fire Starter - Ferrocerium rod locks into sheath, striker notch incorporated into back of knife blade
- Nylon Sheath - Lightweight, military-grade, mildew resistant
- Land to air rescue instructions
- Diamond Sharpener - Integrated into sheath for on-the-go sharpening
- Priorities of Survival - Pocket guide contains Bear's survival essentials
- Weight: 14.7 oz (with sheath), 11.2 oz (knife only)
- Overall Length: 10 in
- Blade Length: 4.8 in
- Price: $80
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife ReviewScoff if you'd like at a Bear Grylls branded item. Go ahead, I did when I first heard of the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife. Then I started reading about it and my opinion started to change. Then I got my hands on one and used it. I no longer scoff. This knife is the real deal. It is designed by Bear and made by Gerber and it is an extremely handy tool to have with you. It's an extremely well thought out design. It has just about everything you'd need in a tool. Where to begin... The blade is 4.8 inches long and is fairly stout. The blade can come in straight or serrated variations. The smooth blade works extremely well for a lot of applications but sometimes you just want a little bit of serration to help speed things along. Although given the range of tasks you can take on with the Ultimate Knife, I think the serrated blade wouldn't hold up as well. The blade is thick and up for cutting, chopping, hacking, etc. To help keep the blade sharp there is a built in diamond sharpener on the blade cover. Just undo a Velcro strap, flip it over, and hone away. The handle is a dense, textured, rubber grip. It's sure in hand, even when the handle is wet or your palms are sweaty. The contours of grip make the knife comfortable in a number of grips. You have very little to worry about when working away with the knife in hand. The base of the handle serves as a waffled hammerhead. It's stout enough to handle hammering abuse without compromising the entire knife. Just be sure be aware of who/what is around when hammering since the blade will be thrusting through the air. The handle also features a lanyard with an emergency whistle. I think the only purpose is for the whistle. The lanyard isn't long enough to do anything with. The sheath is about 10 inches along so the knife can be fully strapped to it. It does feature a single belt loop and two loops for fastening to a pack shoulder strap. The belt loop is tight. I would have liked to see it as Velcro so you didn't have to partially take off your belt to put it on but it's a minor thing. The blade protector is strong and holds the blade secure so it doesn't rattle around. The handle is held with a Velcro strap as well for quick and easy access. The back of the sheath also has a stitched on infographic on basic rescue signals. Attached to the sheath is a Ferrocerium fire starter. It pairs with a notch in the back of the knife blade for striking and starting fires. It locks securely into the sheath with no worries about it coming out. It is relatively easy to throw sparks but a little difficult to get substantial enough sparks to start a fire. The rod is about 1.5 inches long, which I think is too short to be truly effective. If it were longer you'd be able to have more striking range and get more going. The grip is also awkward to hold. In addition to the rescue signals, the knife also comes with a waterproof pamphlet with basic survival skills on it. This is a great, simple guide for the budding survivalist and good refresher for the veteran. It covers protection, shelter, fire, rescue, navigation, water, food, and some basic knots. It's by no means comprehensive but it's a good starter guide. They even included an inch and centimeter ruler along the margins. The Good
- Lots of utility for a single knife
- Great information is included
- Well rounded package
- Ferrocerium fire-starting rod is short
Bottom Line:The Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife is one tool that just about anybody who ventures into the wilderness could find a use for. Buy Now: Pick up the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife [gallery]... Read more...
Every year Merrell jackets get better and better. This year my Merrell jacket of choice was the Merrell Nanook Hoodie. Merrell did send me the Nanook to review.
Merrell Nanook Hoodie Features
- 600 fill power premium goose down
- Micro-denier downproof fabric
- Durable Water-Resistant finish sheds moisture from snow and rain
- Internal zip secure chest pocket
- Internal mesh pocket lets you carry your water bottle inside
- Dual zip-secure hand pockets
- Attached hood
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Price: $199.00
Merrell Nanook Hoodie ReviewHands down the Merrell Nanook Hoodie is one good looking jacket. The style is striking and doesn't look like your standard down jacket. At least on the blue jacket the two tone body and shoulders gives great style. The shoulders are a slightly more durable fabric than the body, which is good if you wear a pack a lot. The orange accents of the zippers and chest rivets add nice variation. The 600 fill down is a versatile down. Sure it's not going to keep you toasty in arctic temperatures but that's not the purpose of the jacket. It's a good all around cold-weather jacket. It has kept me warm down to the low 20s yet I've been able to wear it up into 40s and have been comfortable. I am skeptical of two of the tech specs. The first is the "downproof" fabric. For the first while I was pulling out single feathers that poked through. It wasn't a lot, maybe a dozen or so, but far more than I've had come out of any other down jacket. The second is the water-resistant finish. In snowstorms it didn't take much for the fabric to show wet spots. As the snowflakes would melt the water wouldn't bead, it would soak into the fabric. Not sure if it made it to the down but it's worth noting. There are plenty of pockets all around. Two zippered hand pockets keep your hands warm and valuables secure. They both also double as inner pockets the way they are sewn into the jacket. They aren't fully enclosed on the bottom so only use them for bulky items. The zippered chest pocket is ultra handy. One thing that would really set the hand pockets apart would have been making them fleece-lined. The hood is awesome. 600 fill around your head keeps your head nice and warm. It does have an elastic hem which helps hold it in place a little bit. A drawcord would have been money though. Heading into a wind will blow the hood off. The waist does feature a drawcord which should be a standard feature on all jackets. The Good
- Good Style
- 600 fill is warm and versatile
- Price is nice for a down jacket
- Down pokes through more than I think it should
- Doesn't seem to water-resistant like it says
Bottom Line:Looking for a versatile down jacket with great style? Go with the Merrell Nanook Hoodie Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Nanook Hoodie [gallery] ... Read more...
When it comes to camping with the kids they have to sleep warm or everyone is going to be miserable. When it comes to kids' sleeping bags Kelty crushes it. The Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag and the Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag sleeping bags knock it out of the park! Kelty sent me these bags to test and review this summer and after they arrived my girls were so excited that they slept in them for a week on their bedroom floor! That helped bring the stoke when it was time to take them camping.
Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag ReviewThe Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag is quite possibly the cutest sleeping bag ever made. My 3 year old loves hers. Kelty really hit what is important to kids and what's important for the parents. For the kids: good colors. Sure they don't have the rainbow spectrum but simplicity is good, pink for the girls, green and blue for the boys. The inside is cozy and fun. The flannel doesn't feel as cold as nylon when your first get it and plush fleece helps them slide down into the bag. Its also soft on the face so your kids won't mind being zipped all the way up. For the parents: the Woobie is rated to 30 degrees. The coldest night we had was close to 32 degrees and my 3 year old stayed warm and cozy all night. Dual zippers make it easy to help the little ones in and out of their bag, no matter what side you af sleeping on. The bag is well made and will keep up with the use that only little kids have a way of bringing. If you're going to get the Woobie, get it while your child is young. At 36 inches long, they will outgrow it quickly. Next summer our three year old will be too big. The full feature set is included at the bottom of this review. The Good
- Warm and cozy
- Great Price
- My daughter loved having "her own little sleeping bag"
- I didn't pick it up sooner!
Bottom Line:For your small kids, the Woobie is the sleeping bag to get. Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag
Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag ReviewThe Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag hits the young kids market well. For the young girls (like my five year old) it has a few small touches that made her excited about her new sleeping bag. The faux fur hood gives a little bit of "grown-up" appeal and of course the two-tone pink. For the young boys it's straight, simple blue. Both feature an internal pocket to stash a headlamp or other items. They also include a velcro pillow pouch on the underside to keep a pillow in place. Throw in some loops for keeping a sleeping pad in place and your child is going to sleep comfortably. As a parent my favorite part is the zippered extension. The foot of the bag has a circular zipper. When your child is small, zip it up to shorten the bag by 12 inches to keep her warmer. As she grows taller, unzip it and you'll get a few more years out of the bag. One bag, lasts through a few years of use before they outgrow it. Hands down the best feature. My next favorite feature is the stuff sack. It is sewn to the foot of the sleeping bag so there's no losing it! It also features a carry handle which also hits the "I'm bigger and I can help out by carrying my own stuff" mentality. The Big Dipper is also rated to 30 degrees. On the same 32 degree night my 5 year old was nice and toasty inside with her jammies on. It does seem fairly wide which is good for wild sleepers but could produce cold spots. Keep that in mind. The full feature set is included at the bottom of this review. The Good
- Zippered Extension
- Attached stuff sack
- Good Price
- Nothing, this is a great bag
Bottom Line:Get the sleeping bag that grows with your kids! Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag
Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag Features
- Two-layer off-set quilt construction
- Top baffle collar
- Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design
- Dual-sided locking zips aid in temperature control
- Playful colors and patterned liner
- Stuff sack included
- Temp Rating: 30° / -1°C
- Shape: Mummy
- Fits to: 3' / 91 cm
- Length: 42” / 107 cm
- Shoulder girth: 44” / 112 cm
- Fill weight: 15 oz. / .42 kg
- Total weight: 2 lb. 0 oz. / .9 kg
- Stuffed size: 8"x 15" / 20 cm x 38 cm
- Insulation: Cloudloft™
- Shell material: 66D polyester taffeta
- Liner material: Plush polyester fleece and cotton flannel
- Price: $44.95
Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag Features
- Two-layer off-set quilt construction
- Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design
- Sleeping pad security loops
- 3/4-length, two-way locking zipper
- Sized to fit juniors
- Pillow pocket
- Drawcord replaced by elastic for child safety
- Includes integrated compression storage sack
- Internal storage pocket
- Expandable foot section lengthens the bag by 12" (Patent#US 6,073,282)
- Temp Rating: 30° / -1°C
- Shape: Mummy
- Fits to: 5' 4" / 163 cm
- Length: 72” / 183 cm
- Shoulder girth: 56” / 142 cm
- Fill weight: 35 oz. / 0.98 kg
- Total weight: 3 lb. 9 oz. / 1.60 kg
- Stuffed size: 11" x 20" / 28 cm x 51 cm
- Insulation: Cloudloft™
- Shell material: 50D polyester taffeta
- Liner material: 66D polyester taffeta
- Price: $69.95
For a family sized camping trip you need a family sized tent. The Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is a great option for the family that wants space and quality.
Kelty Hula 6 House Tent ReviewThe Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is a big, spacious tent. Gone are the days of cramming the family into a small tent. The floor size is 10.5 feet by 10.5 feet and the ceiling is 6 feet 4 inches tall at the apex. There is enough room to fit 6 adults with a little extra room. We were able to fit our family of 6 easily with plenty of extra floor space for kids to roll around, store toys, and other kid necessities without bumping into each other and without feeling crammed. Set up was relatively pain free. The two main poles are paired with sleeves to keep things simple. Erecting the poles is definitely easier with two people because of the size of the poles, however, I was able to manage it myself. The "hula" pole is interesting. It's a big circular pole. Assembling it isn't bad until you have to complete the circle. I found it easiest to brace the pole against the base of a tree or a big rock to flex the pole so the last connection could slide together. Once it's done it clips into place on the tent. The only part that was a bit of a pain was putting on the fly. To attach it to the poles you have to duck under the fly to velcro it to the poles. The inside of the tent features a couple of mesh pockets to stash small items, it has ceiling clips for a shelf, and a loop at the apex to hand a lantern. Other than that, the inside of the tent is very minimalist. One of the first things I noticed is the floor of the tent is very thin. So thin in fact that after the first night of use it almost had holes where it rubbed on the pebbles beneath it. The thinness also damped out after a rainy night. We didn't have puddles, just damp spots. My recommendation is to shell out the extra money for the footprint or a tarp. It will prolong the life of your tent (investment) and will help keep you more dry. The Hula 6 features a lot of mesh. It basically runs from close to the ground all the way to the top. This is great for ventilation but bad for privacy. We spent a rainy trip in the Cascades and after an evening and night of rain we woke in the morning with very little condensation in the tent. Where it collected was on the fly but not on the tent itself. From a privacy standpoint, if you are in a campground with people close by, they'll be able to see everything you do inside the tent if you don't use the fly. The fly worked well too. After all the rain from that trip the water was still beading up and running off. The fly comes with plenty of stake points and guy lines to keep it taut in windy weather. The vestibule is the big area I saw for iimprovement. It was kind of small. There isn't a lot of room for storing shoes and things for 6 people. It's the type that zips from the top of the tent straight to the ground. For me it was hard to unzip from the inside. I had to stoop low and reach to get the zippers. With the little bit of condensation on the inside after the night of rain, I ended up with a wet back after rubbing against the fly as I unzipped it. The previous version of the Hula featured a vestibule room. I wish they'd bring this back. Sure it created extra weight and set up time, however, for the extra room (especially for kids who need to roam when the weather is bad) and for getting in and out, I think it would be well worth it. The stakes that come with the tent are okay. They are a U-design which helps a little with rigidity but they still aren't a match for compacted dirt. Just upgrade to Y-shaped stakes when you buy your tent. The Hula 6 packs up nicely into a storage bag that has two handles. Durability is decent. After a summer of use the Hula House 6 is showing light signs of wear and tear. Be careful of the floor and the mesh and it'll last you for years (particularly if you pair it with the footprint). It's tempting to buy a cheap low-name brand tent from a big box store. You'll be glad you paid the extra for the quality and durability of the Hula House 6. The Good
- Tent is big and roomy
- Setup is pretty easy
- Ventilation is great
- Floor is thin
- Vestibule is small
- Stakes are mediocre
Bottom Line:If you have a family and you want to get them out camping, the Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is great option. It's big enough to fit the family of 6 with some room to move around. Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Hula House 6 Tent
Kelty Hula 6 House Tent Features
- Wall material: 68d polyester, dye free
- Floor material: 68d nylon, 1800 mm
- Fly material: 75d polyester 1800 mm
- Freestanding design
- Continuous pole-sleeve construction
- Clip and pole sleeve construction
- Taped floor seams
- ArcEdge floor
- Mesh wall panels
- Internal storage pockets
- Adjustable stakeouts
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Taped seams
- Side-release tent/fly connection
- Welded clear windows
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Guyout points
- Double track vestibule
- Seasons: 3
- Number of doors: 1
- Number of vestibules: 1
- Capacity: 6
- Number of poles: 3
- Pole type: DAC Hybrid
- Floor area: 110 ft2 / 10.22 m2
- Vestibule area: 50 ft2 / 4.65 m2
- Length/Width/Height: 126" x 126" by 76" (320 cm x 320 cm x 193 cm)
- Packed diameter: 12" / 30.48 cm
- Packed Length: 30" / 76.20 cm
- Minimum weight: 18 lb. 5 oz. / 8.31 kg
- Packaged weight: 19 lb. 6 oz. / 8.76 kg
- Price: $399.95
You know the feeling. You're worn out from a long day on the trail. All you want is to relax and get some food in your belly. You grab your steaming cup put it your lips and burn! Enter the Snow Peak Hotlips. Snow Peak sent me some Hotlips to test and review this summer.
Snow Peak Hotlips Features
- Material: Silicone
- Weight: 0.3 oz
- Fits: 600 Single Wall Mug
- Price: $6.95
Snow Peak Hotlips ReviewIt's so simple. I'm sure there's other products like this out there but this is the first time I've seen it. It makes so much sense. Just slip the Hotlips onto the rim of your Titanium 600 Mug and voila, no more burned lips. The silicone covers the hot metal thus saving your lips. While the Hotlips are made specifically for the Titanium 600 single wall mug, I was able to get it to work on the Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug. They might work on other Snow Peak mugs as well. The side benefit is for those who don't like the feel of metal on their lips the Hotlips takes that annoyance away. The Good
- No more burned lips
- Only made to fit one mug
Bottom Line:If you have a Snow Peak Mug or are considering getting one, do yourself a favor and get the Hotlips. Your lips will thank you. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Hotlips [gallery]... Read more...
The H series of stacking mugs from Snow Peak is like the cool, adult, outdoor version of the tub toys many of us played with as kids. Only these are made of titanium, insulated, and way cooler. This summer I had the chance to test and review the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug courtesy of Snow Peak.
Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug Features
- Material: Titanium
- Dimensions: D 3.8" H 4.1"
- Capacity: 21.2 fl oz
- Weight: 4.4 oz
- Mesh Storage Bag Included
- Price: $54.95
Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug ReviewLightweight, insulated, packable are the three words that come to mind for the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug. The H series includes 5 mugs and the H600 is the second largest. All five mugs nest together within the biggest one. The H600 holds just over 20 ounces and weighs in at just over 4 ounces. It's a good companion to your cook pot when going on two person trips. If you have the Snow Peak Trekker Kit or a number of other Snow Peak pots, it will nestle nicely inside along with your stove. It might not fit with the fuel canister though. I love that it's insulated, but not bulky. It gives just enough protection to keep your hands from burning when holding hot stuff and it's just enough to maintain temperature while you eat or drink. For drinking, the Snow Peak Hotlips are a great companion. Yes, they weren't made specifically to fit on the H series, however, they will work. It's a cool feature to have all five mugs in the series nestle together, however, I haven't thought of a time when I'd have more than 2. It's great for packing though. I did think the $55 price point is a little steep. Yes it is titanium but you must either really want the mug or you must really be out of other ways to shave weight. The outer wall is lightly brushed which helps give a little added friction. Even with gloves on, it didn't feel like it was going to slip out of my hand. The H series has 5 mugs ranging from 7 ounces to 30 ounces. All are handle-less. If you want a mug with handles, check out the Snow Peak Titanium Double series. With handles you will lose the stackability. The Good
Bottom Line:The Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug will be more than happy to be at home in your pack. And you will be more than happy to have it. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug [gallery]... Read more...
All it takes is one look to know that Osprey poured a ton of thought and development into the the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack. My experiences with the Variant 37 this summer were great and I'm looking forward to a full winter of using it. Oh yeah, Osprey sent it to me to test and review a some Oregon summer ski mountaineering trips.
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack Features
- Material: Matrix (420D nylon), Cordura (315D)
- Support/Suspension: HDPE frame sheet
- Removeable waist belt
- Hydration Compatible
- Ski Carry
- Climbing Gear Loops: 2
- Ice Axe Loops: 2
- Adjustable tool bungees
- Crampon compression pocket
- Glove friendly buckles
- Three-point haul system
- Underlid Pocket
- Wand Pocket
- Weight: (small) 3 lb 4 oz, (medium) 3 lb 6 oz, (large) 3 lb 9 oz
- Volume: (small) 2075 cu in, (medium) 2258 cu in, (large) 2441 cu in
- Price: $178.95
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ReviewOut of the box I was stoked when I put the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack on for the first time and it fit me perfectly. I'm not that tall but I've had problems in the past with finding packs that fit. The Variant is jam packed with the features you want and a none of stuff you don't care about. The main compartment is big and open. The hydration sleeve is easy to access when empty and an easily fit a 100 oz resevoir. The top compression strap doubles as a rope strap. The extendable lid moves as your loads expands or shrinks. A spindrift collar rolls up under the lid but can unrolled to keep snow out. The lid also features top and under pockets. The crampon compression sleeve is large enought to fit crampons and an avie shovel blade. Side compression straps help keep contents in the sleeve and a small mesh patch at the bottom lets water drain. The "adjustable tool bungee y-clps" were a little funky to figure out but once I did I was a fan. When cinched down they are extremely secure. Definitely one of the better designs I've seen. The ice tool holsters are secure and have a beefier fabric behind them to protect from sharp edges and points. The tool holsters are versatile enough to hold an avie shovel handle. Each side features a wand pocket that doubles as a bottle holder if your so inclined. The ski carry loops were wide enough to easily fit my 115mm tails and carry in the a-frame style. The waist belt is removeable/stowable and features two gear loops for your alpine rack. It is about 3 inches wide and comfortable over a ski jacket and pants or over just a shirt and pants. Shoulder straps were comfy as well and shaped to stay out of the way. Performance was strong both on the uphills and on the down. The profile is slim enough that I didn't bump my elbows when skinning or hiking. On my Mt Hood trip I carried a fair amount of gear and the heavy load was stable and carried well. On ski descents I was able to cinch everything down tight enough to keep it from swaying around. The combination of all the compression straps, shoulder straps, and waist belt kept it secure on my torso. I was able to ski variable snow in variable terrain without worrying about the load. The layout of everything on the pack made the process of "load skis, unload skis, get the ice axe and crampons, stow it all, etc" a relatively painless task. One thing I did think was missing was some sort of side access. It always seems no matter how you pack you always need to fish something out of the bottom of the pack. On the side of the mountain, in the snow, it would have been nice to be able to get to the bottom of the pack without having to unload. The Good
- Great feature set
- Climbed and skied well
- No side access
Bottom Line:The Variant 37 is awesome. It's a strong performer for ski mountaineering. Buy Now: Pick up the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ... Read more...
It blew my mind the first time I heard that UV light could purify water. I was a skeptic until I tried the SteriPEN Freedom this summer. It changed my mind and it changed the way I view purification. SteriPEN did send me the Freedom to test and review.
SteriPEN Freedom Features
- Purifying Element: UV lamp
- Treatment Dosage: 0.5 L
- Total Treatable Volume: 0.5L at a time, 1L by treating twice
- Purification Time: 48 sec
- Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x, 2.2 cm
- Battery Type: rechargeable
- Includes: USB cable, AC adapter & neoprene case
- Weight: 2.6 oz
- Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
- Price: $119.95
SteriPEN Freedom ReviewThe SteriPEN Freedom is light, compact, rechargeable, and easy to use. The Freedom really can't be any easier to use. Fill up a container with water, insert the light of Freedom, and swirl around until the green indicator light turns on. It's made to purify a half liter at a time. A built in timer keeps track of the 48 seconds it takes to treat so you don't half to. You an purify a liter by treating it twice. You won't be able to do more than a liter at a time though. The UV light will kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including giardia and crypto. One thing that was hard for me to get over is visually or tasting you don't notice a difference. With a filter you an see what was caught in the filter. With drops or tablets you can taste the treatment. With UV light you don't have any indication, visually or taste, that it's been purified. There aren't any switches to worry about leaving on. The base of the UV lamp features two metal connectors. When inserted into water the water connects the circuit and the lamp powers on. The base of the unit includes LEDs to indicate progress or errors. When finished, just dry off the unit and replace the protective cover and you don't have to worry about accidentally turning it on. The cover protects the bulb from breaking and an included neoprene sleeve protects the full unit. The battery is a rechargeable lithium battery and uses a micro USB cable, which is great for charging versatility. Battery life is good. On a full chage you get up to 40 treatments. For most trips you'll be more than covered. For longer trips you'll need a way to recharge. That is one downfall of the rechageable battery. If it runs out while in the field and you don't have a power source, you're hosed. Both the battery and lamp are rated for 8000 uses each. At which point both can be replaced by sending it in to Hydro Photon for repair. At 2.6 ounces it's extremely lightweight and makes it ideal for hiking, backpacking, and adventure travel. A handy little feature is a built in LED flashlight. Just rotate the unit side to side to turn it on and off. It is bright enough for task work while purifying, which is nice if you forget your headlamp. Keep in mind though that light use will reduce the number of treatments you can get from a charge. A few notes of caution: 1. The Freedom (or any SteriPEN product for that matter) works best in clean and clear water. Debris in the water reduces purifying effectiveness and could keep it from being fully purified. Turbid water must be filtered. On that note, SteriPEN does make a small prefilter which is handy (though I didn't test it out). 2. I always used a Nalgene. Anything more narrow than this will be challenging to keep the unit submerged and good swirl action going. The swirling is what ensures all the water is purified. 3. Water trapped in the lid or on the threads won't be purified. Take care to full wipe and dry these areas or use another container to fill the bottle or purify in your cook pot. Overall the Freedom was awesome to use. The Good
- Easy to use
- Good feature set
- No sensory indication that water is purified (such as taste or seeing filtered debris)
- Extra caution must be used to clean lid threads so water doesn't become contaminated after treatment
- Rechargeablity is great but if the battery dies in the field and you don't have backup power, your hosed
Bottom Line:The SteriPEN Freedom is awesome. It is now my go to water treatment method for backpacking, camping, and hiking. Definitely worth the money. Buy Now: Pick up the SteriPEN Freedom[gallery]... Read more...
Made for trail-side lunch and snacking the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container won't let you down by letting your food go cold. Innate sent me a Shiru to test and review and here's what I thought.
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container Features
- Material: Double-wall Stainless Steel
- Capacity: 0.55 liters (18.5 fl oz)
- Dimentions: 3 x 7 inches
- Weight: 14.8 ounces
- Price: $22-$28
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container ReviewThe Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container is made to be a lunch container. The short and squat shape makes it ideal for eating your warm (or cold) meals. Unlike your typical thermos for liquid, the opening is wide enough to eat out of without feeling like your fishing for your food. No need to dump your lunch out either. The short nature allows you to easily scrap the bottom to get all of your lunch. The Shiru is made of double-wall stainless steel. It's rated to keep your food hot for up to 5 hours, especially if you take 10 minutes to "preheat" it before you put your hot lunch in. It can double as a cooler to keep your lunch cold for up to 10 hours. In testing I've had food in it for close to the 5 hour limit and when I opened it up, it was still hot. The inner lid features a steam release valve to both depressurize the container and prevent steam burns when as you open the container. The inner lid is also insulated to help control heat loss through the top. The inner lid is wide, making it easier to open, even with gloves on. A rubber gasket seals the liquid inside so even if it tips, it won't leak. I didn't experience any leaking, but stay on the safe side and make sure it remains upright in your pack. The outer cap is also insulated, providing even more heat-retaining value. Keep an eye on it though, it can loosen on it's own because it only has a couple threads I've used it in my pack for cool weather hiking and skiing. Although my biggest use has been for breakfast at work. I typically mix my oatmeal in it and by the time I get to work it's ready to eat. The Good
- Great for lunch
- Retains heat extremely well
- Easy to eat out of
- The outer cap is only a couple threads and can loosen on its own
Bottom Line:The Shiru is the container to use to keep your lunch warm. Buy Now: Pick up the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container [gallery]... Read more...
As temps drop and we start seeing snow on our higher peaks in Alaska, winter is officially on the brain. Early fall is one of my favorite times of the year- not because of the changing leaves or cool, crisp mornings, but rather because early fall means new gear! Time to play with all the new toys coming out for the 2012/2013 winter! So far, here's what I'm getting stoked about for ski season:
A Pair of 163 Praxis MVP Custom Ordered SkisSay who? Praxis? If you aren't familiar with Keith O'Meara's custom shaped skis out of Tahoe, get familiar, and fast. Praxis has been around for years, cranking out some of the most innovative ski technology with incredibly high quality. As world class caliber skiers such as Drew Tabke and Kevin O'Meara begin to ski Praxis skis and bring notoriety to the name, more and more people have been drawn to the brand. Keith, the man behind the curtain, has directed his focus towards making smaller batch, custom skis designed to fit a variety of riders. For my season-long pleasure, I will be skiing a pair of 163 Most Valuable Praxis, or MVP skis, in the "soft" flex with the graphic of my choosing. All of Keith's skis are available for immediate purchase as his original designed model, or available to be custom ordered for flex (choices of soft, medium, medium/stiff and stiff), layup (triaxial fiberglass or a carbon/triaxial fiberglass blend), length, and graphic. Choose from Praxis's badass graphic library or upload your own! Best part? All this customization comes at little to no extra price. Pick your own flex and graphic for free. If you'd like to add the carbon there is a nominal materials fee increase, and if you'd like to upload your own graphic, there's a small fee for that as well. Look to hear more about Praxis and my new MVPs later in the season. Men's and Women's designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who's wearing it! I'm excited to test out the GoreTex softshell material up here in AK, and see how it holds up to our heavy wet snow. Men's version, which features a lobster-claw style 3 finger glove design. Read more...
Looking for a lightweight cooking system? The Snow Peak Trekker Kit is a great option for someone starting out backpacking but is also a great upgrade kit for the seasoned backpacker as well. I've had the chance this summer, courtesy of Snow Peak, to test and review the Trekker Kit.
Snow Peak Trekker Kit Features
- Includes: GigaPower Stove, Trek 1400 Cookset, windscreen, carry bag
- Material: Stove: Stainless Steel, Pot: Titanium, Windscreen: Stainless Steel
- Output: Stove: 10,000 BTU's
- Boil Time: Stove: 4 min. 48 sec. / 1 liter
- Burn Time: 110 gram fuel: 50 min. on high, 250 gram fuel: 85 min. on high
- Dimensions: Pot: D 5.5" H 4.5"
- Stove: D 4.2", H 2.6"
- Windscreen: D 4.5" H 0.6"
- Capacity: Trek 1400: 47 fluid oz
- Size Stowed: D 5.75" H 5.9"
- Weight: 13.15 oz
- Price: $99.95
Snow Peak Trekker Kit ReviewThe Snow Peak Trekker Kit includes just about everything you need to get started with camp cooking. You get the stove, windscreen, and pot all in one. The Stove The stove is the Snow Peak GigaPower Stove. It folds down small, about 2x2x4 inches in an included plastic case. I'm a fan of the case because it helps protect the stove within the pot, however, you can ditch it to save a few grams. At 3.75 ounces (without case) the stove is decently light. The Piezo ignition saves the need for matches and is high quality. I'd say 80% of the time it would ignite on the first try and 19% of the time on the second try. The stove arms are wide enough to provide enough stability for the cookset. As will all canister stoves you need to be careful to not tip the whole thing over, but with the GigaPower it's not a precarious balancing act. The burner has good control. It can boil a quart of in just under 5 minutes (4:48) and can be adjusted down to get a slow simmer. Made out of stainless steel it's going to be able to handle bumps and jostling without falling apart. The Pot Included in the Trekker Kit is the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Cookset. The cookset includes a 47 oz pot (about 1.5L) and a frying pan lid (will hold 17 oz). Made of titanium the Trek 1400 weighs in at a scant 7.4 oz. Each piece features folding handles. Watch out for the pot handles when cooking on high, they will get hot. Also note that they don't lock into place. The pan features a squeeze handle does lock into place which is nice. Keep a watchful eye, the bottom of the pot is smooth so it will slide around on your stove if you aren't careful. The pot is large enough to fit a 250 gram fuel canister and the GigaPower stove inside with room to spare. I was also able to sneak in a long Titanium Spork. Snow Peak does make more cups and pots that will nest into the 1400 but you will end up sacrificing storing the stove and fuel canister inside. With that said, the storage bag is big enough that you can fit the canister on top of the pot and still be in the bag, keeping everything together. Snow Peak does back up the cookset with a lifetime warranty. The Windscreen My biggest gripe with canister stoves is the lack of windscreens. A slight breeze would drive down efficiency. The windscreen integrates with the GigaPower stove and nestles tightly into place. I have no idea what the efficiency gains are in numerical terms, but it does provide noticeable performance gains in the wind. It is well worth the extra weight. The Good
- Everything you need to boil water in a single kit (add in a spork and you've got everything you need)
- Lifetime Warranty on the pot and pan
- Pot is smooth so it will slide around on the stove
Bottom Line:The Snow Peak Trekker Kit is a great additional to any backpacking kit. It's lightweight, has what you need, and performs well. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Trekker Kit [gallery]... Read more...
I've been slowly getting turned to Princeton Tec headlamps. The Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp is one more light that is winning my favor. I've had the chance to test the Remix this summer thanks to Princeton Tec.
Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Review Features
- Type: Headlamp
- Illumination type: one MaxBright LED, three 5mm LEDs
- Light output: 100 lumens
- Run time (High): 28 hours
- Run time (Low): 200 hours
- Light modes: High/low
- Batteries: 3 - AAA (Included)
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 2x2-1/2x1-1/2"
- Weight: 2.4 oz.
- Material: composite with elastic nylon headband
- Ideal uses: climbing, camping, hiking, running, fishing, work
- Made in United States of America
- Price: $39.95
Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Review ReviewThe Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp is a powerful light in a little package. The MaxBright LED can reach up to 73m on high (so they say, I didn't get out the tape measure). It's bright enough that when running you don't have to worry about out running the light and I was able to spotlight considerable distances. On a Mt Hood attempt earlier this summer it was definitely bright enough to scout ahead. The dim, early morning light. The three 5mm LEDs are perfect for task work. They provide just enough light when setting up the tent, cooking a late meal, or reading the tent. We are seeing more and more combo lights and there's a good reason. You can get white, red, or green LEDs. With two setting modes for both sets of LEDs you can find the level of light you need while conserving batteries. On high the MaxBright LED will last 28 hours. The 5mm LEDs will last 200 hours on low. The lamp is powered with three AAA batteries. Ordinarily I'd give negative feedback for not being rechargeable, but for a versatile light like this I think it makes sense. Just use rechargeable AAAs. The headband is wide and comfy, even after a few hours of use on the trail. The pivot for the head is solid. Once set it won't bounce out of place. The head is close to being too heavy for the band though. I did experience some bouncing while running but it was manageable. The Good
- A little heavy for running
Bottom Line:The Princeton Tec Remix is a versatile, powerful little light. Buy Now: Pick up the Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Read more...
The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt isn't your typical wool running shirt. Paired with a small amount of LYCRA you get a shirt that is comfortable, moves with you, and remains relatively stink free. Icebreaker sent me SS Quest Crewe to test this summer and here's what I thought.
Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt Features
- Fabric: 96% Merino wool, 4% LYCRA®
- Quick Drying GT150
- Sweat away with quick-drying odor resistance
- Media player cord loophole
- Eyelet panels Increase venting
- Back pocket stashes keys, gels
- Price: $79.95
Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt ReviewBy now I'm sure we all know the benefits of Merino wool over synthetic fabrics. The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt is made of 96% Merino and 4% LYCRA. The combination provides a comfortable fit and feel on the skin and the shirt has more stretch, which is great for activities that require more dynamic upper-body movement. From long runs to Crossfit inspired workout, the SS Quest Crewe was able to keep up and move with me. One downside to the LYCRA is it does hold body odor. With only 4% of the shirt being LYCRA it's not a huge issue, but the shirt does hold onto it more than a 100% Merino shirt. To put it into context: I wore the SS Quest Crewe shirt for my daily, noontime workouts in 90+ degree heat for five days in a row without washing. By the end of the week the shirt was starting to smell some but it wasn't overpowering. The GT150 fabric is lightweight and quick drying, perfect for hot weather activities. The underarms feature an eyelet type meshy fabric to help with venting. Icebreaker included a small zipper pocket on the back of the shirt. Great idea, but with the loose nature of the shirt anything heavier than a gel or two was too much. Even at a light run the contents would bounce and tug and it was highly annoying. The inside of the pocket includes a headphone cord port so you can keep the cord contained under the shirt (great feature). The fit is more on the loose side than the tight side. At 6' and 180 lbs, the large fits me loosely. Meaning that it fits me the way a large shirt should, it's not body hugging. The SS Quest Crewe has good styling. The different colored stitching provides a nice visual break over a solid colored shirt. The Good
- Merino wool benefits plus a little LYCRA stretch
- Quick drying
- I couldn't really find anything bad with this one!
Bottom Line:The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt is a fantastic, active shirt. I wear it all the time now. Buy Now: Pick up the Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt [gallery]... Read more...
After a year long hiatus to do some redesigning and ensure top safety for your hound, Ruffwear's Headwater Collar is back on the shelves! Featuring the same great features as the first release, the Headwater is a perfect collar for anyone living in a damp environment, or anyone who's dog spends a fair amount of time in the water!
Ruffwear Headwater Collar
- TPU/Silicone coated webbing repels water. Also keeps oils from your dog’s skin from soaking into the material.
- Reflective screen print makes it easy to see your hound in low-light conditions.
- Unlike other waterproof collars, Ruff Wear’s Headwater Collar is super flexible and comfortable on your dog’s neck.
- Redesigned collar includes newly designed leash clip, making it easier to attach a leash to the collar.
- Comes in 4 colors (black, orange, green and red)
- Price = $29.95
Looking for a shoe that won't hold water? One that won't do it, no matter how much water wants to held? Very well then. Reader meet Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes. Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes meet Reader. Columbia sent me a pair of 'Drains to test and review and here are my thoughts.
Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes Features
- Upper: combination mesh, TPU and EVA upper with a TPU toecap
- Midsole: Techlite® midsole with drainage ports in heel and forefoot
- Fully drainable midsole and footbed
- Outsole: Omni-Grip® wet grip rubber with traction lugs
- Weight (Size 9, 1/2 pair): 8.7 oz, 246.6 g
- Price: $94.95
Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes ReviewI can't help but to think of the Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes as a collander. It's exactly how they operate. Water goes in and immediately drains out. Watching Columbia's "Bean Salad" video didn't help change my perception. As it turns out the Powerdrain is great at what it's supposed to do...get water out! Rivers, lakes, oceans, you name it, if it's water the Powerdrain is right at home. Pick up a fully submerged shoe and in a second or so its empty. Drainage is facilitated by key port placement in the heel and forefoot. The footbed and midsole essentially have a bunch of holes in them to let the water through (see pictures to the right or bottom of the post). If you look at the midsole it looks like a waffle. The mesh upper increases drain performance and doesn't hold water in the fabric. The shoe and upper dry quickly enough to help prevent the blisters you'd expect to get from a wet shoe. If you are going to be hiking longer distance take a few minutes to let your feet fully dry out. The footbed is easily removable to help facilitate fully drying out and cleaning. Great, it drains well, but what about other performance? The Omni-Grip sole helps keep traction on wet, slippery surfaces. Still be weary of mossy covered rocks though. Traction felt better than other shoes but I still experienced some slippage. The lugged sole performed decently on trail as well. It's not as aggressive as a hiking shoe sole but it held its own. I only experienced a little more slippage than a hiking or trail running shoe. I was skeptical of the elastic lacing. I doubted it could keep the shoe on in a strong current. With snug tension it kept the 'Drains on my feet in rivers, swimming in the ocean, and even through some shoe-sucking mud. Don't expect to be free of sand and pebbles in your shoes. Some sand will get carried out with the water but some will linger, especially in the ocean. One side benefit is you do get a little bit of warmth from the shoe in cold water. I was definitely able to stay in cold water considerably longer than without the shoes. Also the painful transition to numb feet wasnt as drastic, i.e. it wasn't as painful. The Good
- Drains fast
- Dries quickly
- Slips a little more than you'd expect on trails
Bottom Line:The Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes are awesome at what they are supposed to do. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Powerdrain Water Shoes [gallery]... Read more...
What exactly is a "Compounder"? Adhesive substances? Nope. Fractions? Nope. An awesome jacket meant for whatever you can throw at it? Yep. Columbia continues to step up their game. The Columbia Compounder Jacket is great all-around jacket for those who like to get out doing a lot of different things. Columbia sent me the Compounder to review this spring and summer.
Columbia Compounder Jacket Features
- Fabric: 100% 2.5 layer polyester plain weave
- Omni-Dry ultra breathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- Omni-Wick EVAP® advanced evaporation
- Attached, adjustable, helmet compatible storm hood
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof zippers
- Drop tail
- 5 pockets
- Internal key clip
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Center back length: 30 in
- Price: $300
Columbia Compounder Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Compounder Jacket would fit well in the "all-around" jacket category. It is a strong performer in a lot of different conditions. The combination of the 2.5 layer Omni-Dry construction was more than enough to keep the weather out. From rain storms, to blizzards, to 40 mph winds, the Compounder kept the weather at bay. I had full confidence when I wore it. The thing that sets it apart from other jackets is the Omni-Wick Evap technology. This is supposed to make the Compounder ultra breathable by using "a special compound that disperses sweat quickly across a broad surface area for accelerated evaporation.". I'm a sweat machine so I was very excited about this. I came away from testing with mixed feelings. Overall it does a decent job. In cold conditions it did well moving moisture. When temps were warmer I was sweating more than the jacket could move. It's definitely not an "active" jacket for running but it does well for hiking, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, or other activities that don't have high levels of output. To be completely fair, other shells have a hard time keeping up with moisture management. With that in mind, though, the Compounder is one of the better performing jackets when it comes to moisture management. It does come with full pit zips which help with additional ventilation. The hand pockets are mesh lined so if things get bad you can open them up as well. The downfall to the mesh pockets is when you get sweaty whatever is in your pockets will get soaked. The two hand warmer, two inside pouch, and one chest pocket allow you to carry way more than you need in your pockets. The fleece lined chin area keeps your face from getting rubbed raw. The drawcord hem will help keep the weather out. The Compounder is relatively lightweight and packs down pretty small. I've kept it stashed away in my pack for when I need it. Once again it's a good all-around jacket so it won't get as small or as lightweight as some shells out there. The hood is big and adjustable. It will fit over many helmets and can snug down tight. It handled 40 mph crosswinds on Mt Hood without shaking or flapping loose. I was able to adjust it small enough to give good coverage of my face. The length is long enough to give good coverage for when your skiing but not so long that you look like a dork when you wear it around town. The Good
- Great all-around jacket
- Lightweight and pack able
- Relatively breathable
- Mesh pockets allow contents to get sweaty
Bottom Line:The Columbia Compounder is a strong contender. It's a good all-around jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Compounder Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
"What a weird back panel" is the first thought that popped into my head when I saw the redesigned Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack. Mountainsmith redesigned the Wraith for 2012 and I had the chance to test it out and review it this summer.
Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack Features
- Panel loading daypack with Breezeway™ Suspension system
- Diamond mesh air-flow foam shoulder straps with DWR anti-sweat finish
- Side compression straps with SR Buckle adjustment
- Removable 1 inch waistbelt
- Deep side panel mesh pockets fit fit SIGG™ and Nalgene® style water bottles
- Tool & dual trekking pole mount loops
- Front pocket internal organization panel
- Internal hydration sleeve and exit port accommodates up to 3L bladders (not included)
- Recommended Load - up to 25lbs (+/- 5 lbs)
- Volume: 1403 cu in
- Weight: 2lbs 6oz
- Fit Range: 16 - 21"
- Price: $99.95
Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack ReviewThe first thing you'll notice about the Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack is the Breezeway™ Suspension system. The pack curves away from your back creating a "BreezeWay" with a padded, mesh back panel. It looks gimmicky but it actually works fairly well. It does increase airflow which is really nice. You'll really notice the difference if it's a breezy day. You'll still get sweaty back but it won't be as intense and you get a nice cooling effect from your sweat. The downfall of the curved back panel is it all but renders the hydration sleeve useless. I was unable to get my 3L reservoir in the sleeve. First I tried with it full and it definitely wasn't happening. I tried half and then empty. When it was empty I could get it fully into the sleeve, however, I would have to pull it partway out to fill it. Then I couldn't get it back in. The sleeve is also so tight that I couldn't get it to fill to the full 3L. The shoulder straps are a light mesh. The goal here, again, is increased airflow. I didn't notice that much of a difference but if I had one of the mesh shoulder straps and a different strap to compare at the same time I'm sure the difference would be more pronounced. I will say, though, that the shoulder straps are comfortable. The Wraith is fairly voluminous for a daypack. For some reason it seemed larger then 25L. It gobbled everything I needed for a day hike with room to spare. Depending on how light you go it could be stretched into an ultralight overnight. It features one large, zippered compartment that contains a hydration sleeve that will fit up to a 3 liter reservoir (reservoir not included). If you have bulkier items you will have to fully unzip and unbuckle the side compression straps to get them in around the curving back panel. This is a little bit of a pain but not bad overall. A small zippered pocket on the outside has a few organizer details for your small stuff and a key fob. I've learned to not underestimate the key fob. I have an innate fear of losing my keys out in the wilderness. Not having a key fob is almost a deal breaker for me. It's odd but I was unnaturally excited when I saw the key fob on the Wraith. A number of smaller features make the Wraith extremely versatile as a daypack. It features ice tool and dual trekking pole loops, the waist belt is easily removable, mesh side pockets are good for bottles, wet or extra clothing, and two daisy loops for lashing on gear. The tool/pole loops are small, easy to use, and don't get in the way. The bottom loops are static so make note if the grips on your poles are wide. To get my in it was a bit of a squeeze. The overall fit of a pack seems a little small. I don't have a long torso but unless I really loosen the shoulder straps the waist belt always ends up too high. I think have it dialed in now but still seems a little small. The Good
- Relatively lightweight
- Good feature set
- Curved back panel makes it nearly impossible to get a hydration reservoir in
- Fit seems a little small
- Takes more time to get the fit just right
Bottom Line:Want an extremely versatile, comfortable daypack? Get the Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack. Buy Now: Pick up the Mountainsmith Wraith 25 Daypack[gallery]... Read more...
Let's face it, when it comes to camp cooking packing pots, utensils, bowls, cups, stove, and fuel can be a pain. Integrated systems have been around for awhile but I finally had my chance to test one out. GSI Outdoors sent me the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist to review and it is awesome!
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist Features
- Crushproof lid made of Glacier Stainless steel prevents deformation of your pot/lid and includes an integrated strainer
- Convenient folding handle locks into place for cooking and secures entire set for transport, eliminating the need for a stuff sack
- Unique bowl + mug solution with low center of gravity and Sip-It virtually eliminates spills while the integrated insulating sleeve keeps your drinks hot
- Ingenious, welded stuff sack holds set while traveling and doubles as a sink or washbasin in camp
- 1.8 L Pot
- Strainer lid
- Two 20 fl. oz. insulated mugs
- Two 20 fl. oz. bowls
- Two Sip-It tops
- Two Telescoping Foons
- Stove bag - welded sink
- Size: 5.9" x 6.4" x 5.9"
- Weight: 24.7 oz
- Price: $64.95
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless DualistFirst and foremost I love not having to track down my spork or bowl, or whatever. In the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist everything is all in one. It's compact, all together, and it doesn't rattle around in your pack. The Glacier Dualist gives you everything you need. The 1.8L pot is big enough for most meals you'll cook for two people. It does get difficult to manage bulky meals like pasta (I burned one and it sucked...totally my fault too) but as long as you're diligent you should be fine. The folding handle is sturdy and locks into place. Even with a full pot I didn't feel like I was on the verge of having it break in two. The lock is facilitated by squeezing the handle together and rotating it past a couple of tabs. It serves a dual purpose of keeping the lid on and everything in place when packing it up. The strainer lid is a good feature but there are a couple of improvements I would like to see: 1. The top ring doesn't stay in place very well. Sometimes you can get it balance in the upright position but a lot of times it tipped over which meant burning my fingers when grabbing it to lift the lid. 2. Something to help hold the lid in place when using the strainer. I don't always want to use the corner of my shirt or beanie or whatever to hold the lid in place. I liked the bowls. They are simple, lightly insulated, and can work as a cup with the integrated lid. The insulation is a thin neoprene sleeve and is just enough to keep your meal warm (or cold) just long enough to get through it. Paired with the lid you can let it sit for a few but don't wait too long. You can still get some hand-warming effect when the temps are cool but you don't have to worry about burning your hands. The bowl does separate into to pieces. When washing if you fully submerge the bowl water will get in to the insulation. This isn't a negative for me, I am just making note. I made it a point to keep an eye on it and take it apart if it got wet. I really liked how the bowl doubled as a cup with the lid. There's nothing worse than using a bowl as a cup and spilling [insert beverage name here] all over yourself. The lid snaps snugly into place. It's not totally bozo-proof so don't expect miracles. Telescoping Foons. Sounds like a medical device or perhaps something from a sci-fi movie. I like the concept of the telescoping Foon but I found them inadequate. First, when using them with the pot, they don't reach all the way to the bottom without sticking your hand in. If you've got a full pot you'll be hosed. Secondly, they break very easily. The part where the spork meets the handle is very thin plastic. I reached snappage dishing up chili. I just held too far up on the handle. Just be careful. I like the idea of telescope action. It's what allows the Foons to fit in the pot. If you have kids you get some additional side benefits. My girls loved the "crazy forks" and they loved the telescoping action. Then they thought it was fun because on our trips they each had their own color. Everything is made to fit together including a canister stove and single fuel canister. I was able to fit an MSR Pocket Rocket and an 8 oz canister. GSI does include a thin sleeve to protect the stove and cookware from scratching each other. With the 8 oz canister it does take some finagling to get everything to fit just right. Take care to not bend your stove. Once everything is put together it fits into a welded storage sack. Once again, it all fits together and I love it. The sack also doubles as a kitchen sink or water holder for purifying. It's stainless so it's going to weigh more. If you're concerned about weight check out some of the other options to save a little weight. To have a system all in one, I didn't mind the extra weight. The Good
- Everything you need in one place
- Stainless steel is durable
- Lots of versatility with each piece
- Foons break easily and they don't the bottom of the pot
- Stainless is heavier, if you don't like it, check out the other options
Bottom Line:Buy Now: Pick up the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist[gallery]... Read more...
I can take pain and discomfort. I can push my limits to the point of breaking. I like the feeling, I like pushing myself. But when it comes to putting my feet in frigid water I'm a sally. For whatever reason I can't stand the pain before my feet go numb. Thank goodness for the Chaco Ponsul Water Shoe.
Chaco Ponsul Water Shoe Features
- Upper: Polyester webbing
- Molded TPU toe bumper
- Integrated neoprene sock
- Footbed: LUVSEAT™ XO3 Platform (removable insole)
- Custom Adjust'em Fit
- Outsole: Vibram® Bulloo Outsole
Chaco Ponsul Water Shoe ReviewThe Chaco Ponsul Water Shoe is essentially a Z1 sandal with a neoprene sock added to it. You get the same great footbed, adjustable straps, comfort, fit, and durability of the signature Chaco sandal. The Ponsul is great for early season water adventures, cold water, or if you're like me and you're feet freeze in moderately cold water. The neoprene sock acts as it should and traps water around your feet so it can warm up from your body heat. I found that while walking around colder water would flush in but my feet stayed warmer and I could stay in the water longer. The one downside I found was after leaving the water I had to take off the sandals to drain them if I was going to be walking around for awhile. As I was walking I could tell that a blister disaster was waiting to happen if I spent a lot in them without draining. Adjustability remained fairly strong with the Ponsul. The front strap adjusts the same as the Z/1, just be conscious that if you go too tight the neoprene sock will bunch up a little. One area I felt was lacking was heel adjustments...there aren't any. For me the heel hangs too loose. I'd like to see a simple adjustment strap here to help snug down the fit. The LUVSEAT™ XO3 Platform is a removable insole. Some may balk at this but trust me, it's good. It is still shaped and molded like the traditional Chaco footbed but by being removable it allows the sandals to dry out faster. The Vibram® Bulloo Outsole is a good sole. It does provide good traction in water although you still have to tread carefully over mossy rocks. I did find the tread not agreesive enough for extended trail use, but it did fine in the water. For a water shoe one of my favorite features is the toe bumper. Gone are the days of stubbing bare toes on rocks (especially cold toes). I like the added protection. The Good
- Neoprene socks keeps your feet warm(er)
- Chaco comfort
- Needs heel adjustment
- Must remove sandal to drain water
Bottom Line:If you love Chacos but need a water shoe, the Ponsul is the way to go. Buy Now: Pick up the Chaco Ponsul Water Shoe[gallery]... Read more...
The Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes are the most lightweight shoe in Patagonia's running line this year. While they aren't a "true" minimalist shoe, they are a great lightweight runner that doesn't compromise on performance or comfort. Patagonia sent me a pair to test this spring and here are my thoughts.
Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes Features
- Upper Material: [outer shell] air mesh, synthetic leather
- Lining: polyester
- Sole: multi-density sticky rubber
- Midsole: Air Cushion
- Footbed: anatomical EVA
- Heel / Forefoot Height: 9 mm / 5 mm
- Lacing: standard
- Weight: (size 9) [each] 9.2 oz
- Price: $110.00
Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes ReviewLet's quickly get the minimalist thing out of the way. The Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes are lightweight (9.2 oz is pretty good) but for you purists out there you likely won't be happy. They do feature 4 mm in drop and do have a cushioned midsole. What does make them minimalist is their weight but also the amount of cushion provided. It does begin to force one to be even more selective on their running path. The Fore Runner would make a good transition shoe for someone looking to start the path to minimalist running. Performance in the Fore Runner was strong. The lugged sole provided sufficient traction for dry, compact, wet, and light sandy trails. I didn't notice much slippage on the ups or the downs. Between the sole and midsole my feet were protected from all but the biggest and sharpest of rocks. The air mesh upper is very airy (no pun intended). This is great for fair weather runs, hot runs, and even mild, dry days. If you want to run in inclement weather or on extremely wet trails, your feet are going to get soaked. My feet sweat a ton and the mesh kept me comfortable on warmer runs. One downside to the mesh is it does stretch and flex. I had to cinch the lacing down extra tight to reduce the stretching factor for the downs. I do need to play around with the lacing configuration to see if I can reduce the stretch even more. Overall, Patagonia is making strong strides in the trail running market and the Fore Runner is an excellent shoe. I've run in them for couple of months now and so far the quality has remained strong. I haven't noticed any fraying in the mesh, stitching, or anything else coming apart. The Good
- Fairly lightweight
- Airy and comfortable
- Long-lasting quality
- Good mix between traditional shoes and minimalist shoes
- Mesh stretches require extra tight lacing to keep your feet from toe-jamming on the downs
Bottom Line:For a lightweight, non-minimalist (zero drop) shoe the Patagonia Fore Runner is an excellent choice. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes [gallery]... Read more...
As a bike commuter, trail runner, mountain biker, and general outdoors person I've been through a lot of different pairs of sunglasses. I've had a hard time finding one pair that suited all the different conditions I played in. My favorite pair to date was a pair of glasses with interchangeable lenses. I got sick of switching lenses. I needed one pair that could literally do it all. Enter the Julbo Dust Sunglasses. Julbo sent me a pair to test and review and here are my thoughts.
Julbo Dust Sunglasses Features
- Frame: nylon
- Lens: Zebra Antifog Photochromic (polycarbonate)
- Frame Measurements: (lens width) 66 mm, (bridge) 17 mm, (temple) 120 mm
- Nose Pads: yes
- Temple Pads: yes
- Protective case: yes
- Recommended Use: running, hiking, biking
- Manufacturer Warranty: lifetime
- Price: $160
Julbo Dust Sunglasses ReviewThe feature that sets the Julbo Dust Sunglasses apart from other sunglasses is the Zebra Antifog Photochromic lens. It is a lens that can literally span most all conditions. For those not familiar with photochromic lenses, they change based on the amount of light, i.e. they get darker as the sun gets brighter. With the Dust riding in low-light (not night) conditions it allows enough light to pass through so you can see. When it gets bright the lenses get nice and dark. Pair that with a reflective coating and even on the brightest days here in Central OR I haven't gotten eye fatigue. I haven't ever had to squint while wearing the Dust. The one thing that is missing in my opinion is the Zebra lens isn't polarized. If Julbo could include that I'd be 100% happy. Yes, I want my cake and I want to eat it too. The Dust does come with a removable lens option that includes a polarized lens, a low-to-medium light lens, and a clear lens. Next on my list of "extremely important" features are the "rubber" nose piece and temple pieces. They kept the glasses in place, even on my sweatiest rides and runs. Nothing like cranking through some downhill singletrack and have to push your glasses up. It wasn't an issue at all with the Dust. The frame is very comfortable and somewhat flexible. A couple of color options are available. My preference was the very "Euro" blue. The Dust is fairly lightweight, meaning that I put them on and I didn't notice them. I'm not a weight weenie so I don't know if it truly is "lightweight" compared to other frames out there. On the quality spectrum, the Dust is high. Julbo has been around for while and their background in glacier glasses have set the ground nicely for high quality products. The Good
- Photochromic lens is highly versatile
- Non-sweat-slippage rubber on the nose piece and temple pieces
- Photochromic lens isn't polarized
Bottom Line:The Julbo Dust has become my go-to all around sunglasses for bike commuting, running, and other two-wheeled pursuits. Buy Now: Pick up the Julbo Dust Sunglasses [gallery order="DESC"]... Read more...
A couple of weeks ago I made my first climbing attempt of Mt Hood in northern Oregon. The weather conspired against us with snowstorms and 45 mph winds. It was planned to be a ski mountaineering trip. The plan was to skin as high as possible then don crampons and ice axes for the summit push. The descent would be skis from the top of the Hogsback to the base. While the weather wasn't our friend we still skinned our way up through the resort and had a good ski descent. Another attempt later this month will be likely. Here's my gear list for the trip. I err on the side of caution and may have carried a little more than others would.
- Columbia Compounder Jacket
- Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket
- Patagonia Powderkeg Pants
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Top
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Bottoms
- Stoic Inbounds Glove
- Black Diamond Powerstretch Fleece Gloves
- Patagonia R1 Balaclava
- Julbo Orbiter Goggles
Ski and Climbing Gear
- Black Diamond Kilowatt Skis
- Fritschi Freeride Plus Bindings
- Black Diamond Method Boots
- Black Diamond Ascension Skins
- Black Diamond Whippet Pole
- Black Diamond Traverse Pole
- Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
- Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampons
- Backcountry Access Tracker DTS Beacon
- Voile T6 Tech Avalanche Shovel
- Black Diamond QuickDraw Guide Probe 300
- Petzl Ecrin Roc Helmet
- Petzl Reverso Belay Device
- Couple of shoulder length slings and locking carabiners
- Osprey Variant 37 Backpack
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag
- Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp
- GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist Cookset
- MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
- Vapur Element Bottle
The Vapur Element Water Bottle truly is an "anti-bottle". It's a bottle without being a bottle. It's sleek, compact, and great to use. It takes away your excuses for not carrying a bottle with you. Vapur gave me a bottle to test and here's what I thought.
Vapur Element Water Bottle Features
- Sizes: .7L & 1L
- SuperCap - Tough Seal. Easy Open
- Durable 3-ply construction
- Antimicrobial lining
- Dishwasher safe
- BPA Free
- Made in the USA
- Price: $11.99 (.7L) & $13.99 (1L)
Vapur Element Water Bottle ReviewThe most striking feature of the Vapur Element Water Bottle is how it folds down. This is the "anti-bottle" element (no pun intended). I think the biggest complaint people have with carrying a typical bottle is they are too bulky and a pain to carry. The Element folds down super small. It's small enough to easily fit into a jacket pocket, daypack, or in a purse. It weighs next to nothing when empty. The biggest excuse is no longer valid. My first thought when I first saw the Element was "that's going to be a pain to clean". I didn't realize that the cap unscrews and the inside is easily scrubbed with a bottle brush. It is dishwasher safe too if you want to go that route. My second concern was the cap accidentally being opened. The cap fits tightly and in most cases shouldn't come open. If you throw it in your pack with a bunch of other stuff you'll be tempting the fates. Just be smart. Vapur threw on a plastic carabiner to help with portability. Clip it to the outside of your pack, climbing harness, or if you want to be super cool, your belt loops. I'm not a fan of clipping it when it's full, but when it's empty it's a good option. The biner folds down around the lid when not in use. My next concern was with leakage. With 3-ply construction the Element is durable. You'd really have to work hard to randomly puncture it. It can also withstand freezing. Lastly, and it threw me for a loop, I actually had people tell me how cool the bottle was. It is cool but to receive compliments was unexpected. Just don't buy the bottle thinking it will make people like you or notice you. That's what the convertible is for. The Good
Bottom Line:You no longer have any excuses to not carry a reusable water (anti)bottle. Buy Now: Pick up the Vapur Element Water Bottle[gallery]... Read more...
While most of the Lower 48 is enjoying summer climbing weather already, we're just barely transitioning out of full on winter up here in AK. Unfortunately, that transition means some rainy days amidst the snow. To keep me warm in the rain or the snow, I've been reaching for my Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Specs
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® shell fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Double-separating front zipper
- Zippered napoleon pocket (great for stashing a CLIF shot!), plus a zippered internal chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets. One handwarmer pocket is intended to double as a stuff sack.
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- MSRP: $225
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewThe Havoc is a synthetic insulated jacket, taken to the "next level" with Windstopper material integrated into the exterior of the jacket. What a great idea! Eric raves about this also in his own review of the Havoc. Why don't all synthetic puffy coats come with Windstopper? No added weight or bulk, and added warmth. Good thinking on Outdoor Research's part. I used the Havoc as my primary insulation layer for ski touring, and often used it as my outer layer as well. The Windstopper material made it so that I didn't need a shell over the insulation to keep the wind chill out. Awesome. When I heard about the Havoc, I was a bit concerned that it might be less packable/pliable due to the Windstopper shell. Not so. My Havoc packs down smaller than my old Patagonia MicroPuff does, and comes with the added benefit of the Windstopper shell. Win win!
- Primaloft insulation keeps you warm, but what really adds to the heat of this jacket is the Windstopper exterior. No biting chills accidentally making it through the jacket.
- Sizing is right on and equivalent to the rest of their line.
- The hood is a great size. Big enough to fit over a hat or a climbing helmet (not a ski helmet), but not giant. Not stowable, but that doens't phase me.
- Handwarmer pockets have a fleece lining inside them. Bonus!
- I wish the Havoc came with a stuff sack for stowing in my pack when I'm not using it. One of the handwarmer pockets is intended to double as a stuff sack, but it seems a bit cumbersome. I like having a separate bag that I can just jam things right into without worrying about accidentally ripping a zipper.
- The Double Separating front zipper makes it a pain to zip up sometimes. Since both parts have to be all the way down, it seems I spend a lot of time fumbling with that.
Bottom LineA well designed synthetic insulation jacket with the added bonus of a Windstopper shell. Check out the Havoc here!... Read more...
For the times when you need a jacket but don't have room, or don't want the extra weight, or just when you want to have a back up look no further than the Stoic Wraith Shell.
Stoic Wraith Shell Features
- Material: Nylon
- Hood (non-removable)
- Fit: Athletic
- Weight: 2.5 oz
- Pockets: 1 front zip
- Price: $70
Stoic Wraith Shell ReviewThe Stoic Wraith Shell is the shell that's almost not there. Coming in at a mere 2.5 ounces it literally is almost not there. It is the perfect "emergency" or back up jacket to have. It packs down super small, small enough to easily fit in your pocket. When it's in your pocket you hardly notice that it's there. It is the ideal jacket to cut the wind or shed a light rain. While it's not fully waterproof it is DWR coated and will offer protection from light precipitation. I was skeptical on how well it'd breathe. I thought for sure that it would be a sweat lodge. To test breathability I wore it on a warmer day paired with a baselayer, a long-sleeve merino layer, and then the Wraith. I was pleasantly surprised to see that when I was running the Wraith did a good job of breathing. Then came the real test. Once I was nice and warm I removed the long-sleeve layer to see if the Wraith would stick to my arms and be uncomfortable. Once again whenever I was on the move the Wraith was breathing and moving moisture. Once I'd stop, though, all bets were off. The full time hood is nice and just big enough to cover your head. It is full-time and needs to get tucked inside so it doesn't flow in the wind like a tiny parachute. One thing to note that I didn't think of is because the jacket is nylon it will pick up your funk. I haven't washed mine yet so I don't know how it will do in the washer. Washing in Nikwax Tech Wash or something similar should do the trick. The Good
- Super lightweight
- Picks up and holds odors
Bottom Line:The Wraith is a great back up shell, great for trail running, great to go in the pack. Buy Now: Pick up the Stoic Wraith Shell[gallery]... Read more...
Need a good all-weather minimalist running shoe? Want waterproof protection? Want good performance? Look no further than the Merrell Embark Glove Gore-Tex Barefoot Running Shoe
Merrell Embark Glove Gore-Tex Barefoot Running Shoe FeaturesUPPER / LINING
- Synthetic leather and mesh upper
- GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort footwear lining protects feet and keeps them dry
- Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing System provides a precise, glove-like fit
- Microfiber footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
- 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
- 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
- 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
- Vibram® Trail glove Sole/Rubber Compound TC-1
Merrell Embark Glove Gore-Tex Barefoot Running ShoeReviewThe Merrell Embark Glove Gore-Tex Barefoot Running Shoe is the cold/all weather shoe in Merrell's Barefoot line. It comes fully lined with Gore-tex making it waterproof and warm. At the base the Embark is very similar to the Merrell Trail Glove and the Merrell Sonic Glove (click links for reviews. Same last, same overall look and feel, same running performance. The running performance is high, same as the other models. Running in them just feels good. The sole is similar to the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove. Four mm thick, zero drop, and good tread pattern. The Gore-tex keeps your feet fully dry on wet or snowy runs. Just don't step in deep puddles. One thing of note on the Gore-tex, it really holds in heat (i.e. doesn't breathe as well as a non-lined shoe) which for me means it is a cold-weather only shoe. The heat retention is a great benefit on frigid days. For all the similarities to the other models that I love I did find some drawbacks that I wasn't super stoked on. Some are big and some are minor. First the Embark has more volume than the Trail and Sonic Gloves. It's not a lot but it's noticeable. As a result I had to cinch down the laces to the max to get the fit I wanted. Maybe the additional volume is to accommodate thicker socks for cold weather running? I'm not sure on this one. The foot opening is stiffer than other models too. This wouldn't be an issue except the back side is turned in just enough that it rubs on my Achilles. Maybe it's just my pair but it hasn't "self-corrected" with use. I either have to tape my Achilles or get blisters every time I wear them. This is close to a deal breaker for me. They felt better on today's run so maybe they need more time. See my picture to the right to see how much the back is angled in. You can also tell on the "Tex" that the side curves in as well. This also rubs but hasn't caused blisters. This could just be my pair. Last thing, it's minor, but the shoelaces are twice as long as they need to be. I have to tie seven knots so the laces don't drag on the ground. I know it's just the shoelaces but it's a pain. The Good
- Strong performing shoe, just like the others I've tested from the Merrell Barefoot line
- GORE-Tex keeps your feet dry and warm
- Extra Volume was almost too much
- Back ribbing is stiff and rubs the Achilles
- Shoes laces are too long
Bottom Line:The Embark is a good all-weather show. Just try it on to make sure you won't get any rubbing on the Achilles. Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Embark Glove Gore-Tex Barefoot Running Shoe[gallery]... Read more...
Baselayers are essential to a good ride or run. So why not get one that works, is comfortable, and is technical? You'll get just that with the Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt. Sugoi gave me the chance this past winter to test out the Carbon zip and here's what I thought about it.
Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt Features
- Fabric: FinoCarbon
- Fit: Slim
- Flat seams
- 10" zipper
- Articulated for free movement
- Price: $55
Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt ReviewI thought the Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt was just going to be another typical baselayer but I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noticed pulling it out the packaging was how soft the fabric felt. Putting it on, it's very comfortable. Scoff if you'd like at the "softness" comment but if I'm going to be moving, sweating, and pushing myself, I don't want my shirt to be uncomfortable. The fit is great. It is definitely slim and hugs your body. It's great for performance. I am 6 feet and 180 lbs and the large fits me nicely. I have long arms and the sleeves were long enough for me. One thing I think is missing though is thumb loops. I'm a fan of the thumb loops, especially on colder days. The Carbon Zip did a good job with moisture management. On my sweatiest days it kept up. The FinoCarbon fabric is infused with carbon to help control odor. It is awesome at controlling smells! I could pull multiple uses between washings without making myself wretch each time I pulled it over my head. All in all the Carbon Zip is a great baselayer. I've used it mostly running but have used it biking as well. It works as a good mid-layer on the bike as the fit isn't quite long enough to cover your back on the bike. The Good
- Great Performance
- Great Fit
- Not Smelly
- Would liked to have seem thumb loops
Bottom Line:Get a baselayer that works. The Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt is awesome. It's comfortable, has high performance, and isn't as smelly as other synthetic layers. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Carbon Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt[gallery]... Read more...
Recognize this scenario? Time to load the car for the family trip. Ah crap, we over packed! Get the extra cargo capacity you need with the Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box.
Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box Features
- Capacity: 11 cu ft (311 liters)
- Ski load Capacity: 5
- Snowboard Load Capacity: 5
- Dual-Side Opening
- Push Button Opening
- SKS Lock Core Included (with key)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 89 in x 24 in x 15 in
- Weight: 38 lbs
- Price: $349.00
Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box ReviewThe Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box is the mid-size choice in the Rocketbox line and it's the most economical. Technically it has the smallest capacity, however, it is longer than the Rocketbox 12. The "Pro" in the name refers to the upgrades to the line from previous models. It comes with features like for dual-side opening, a push button latch, and an upgraded bar connection system. The exterior is also more sleek in appearance. The Rocketbox Pro 11 is good sized box. It's long enough to hold skis and has enough capacity to haul a bunch of gear. I've been able to fit three pairs of skis, poles, and a snowboard in it at the same time with room to spare. If you purchase it through the mail you will have to assemble the box yourself. Have no fear it's a straight forward process. Yakima does provide easy-to-follow, detailed instructions and there is a short video available on Yakima's website as well. One thing to note: the keys are taped to the box, not inside with the other parts. Took me a few to find them. The roof mounting system has been changed up from the previous Rocketbox line. The old style was a combo knob and camming lever to secure the clamp. The new style is just a red knob. Adjust the clamps forward or back and then tighten. This simplifies the system. I will say though, if you take your cargo box on and off frequently the new system won't be quite as efficient. One big benefit is the Pro 11 is dual-side opening. Gone are the days of only mounting the box on the passenger side of the car or having to walk around to load/unload. It also comes with a push button to make opening easier. It features a more narrow profile so you can actually fit other attachments on your roof rack with the box on. It will also fit round, square, and factory crossbars. To facilitate the dual-side Yakima has employed pivoting hinges on the inside. They are made of plastic and it seems this could be a potential point of failure. Chances are unlikely but it's worth noting. You'd either have to really yard on the lid or use it excessively. All in all the Rocketbox Pro 11 is money. I've been using it all winter and it's been a trip saver. Well worth the investment. The Good
- Dual-side opening
- Can fit a ton of gear
- Great Price
- Some assembly required (only a negative if you don't like putting stuff together)
Bottom Line:Great box, good versatility, most economical choice in the line. It's been a trip saver for me. Buy Now: Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box [gallery]... Read more...
Don't trust your typical detergent to get your technical clothing clean. Enter Nikwax. With a myriad of specialized products they'll have something to fit your washing needs. Nikwax gave me the opportunity to test out their Nikwax Tech Wash, Nikwax Base Wash, and Nikwax Wool Wash.
Nikwax Tech Wash, Wool Wash, Base Wash ReviewFirst and foremost: Nikwax works! Tech Wash: is what you want to use to wash your technical outerwear (jackets, pants, packs). Basically anything that's waterproof. It's formulated to lift and remove dirt out of the fabric and waterproof membrane. Thus revitalizing the waterproof properties of the jacket. Even on old jackets, you'll see an improvement of the waterproof performance. What happens is the dirt and grime gets into the fabric and interferes with the waterproof treatments ability to repel water. Remove the dirt and grime and voila! Using Tech Wash is also the preferable first step to re-waterproofing your jacket. Base Wash: Base Wash is specially formulated for washing your synethic base layers. It will get the funk out of your shirts. It is also supposed to help your base layers wick better, but I haven't noticed a difference. I preferred to not wash my layers in this every time, only periodically. The scent of the base wash is strong and lingers on the garments, even after drying (don't worry it's a "clean" scent). Wool Wash: you guessed it, Wool Wash is made for washing your merino layers and clothes. It's formulated to clean and soften your wool garments and enhance the wool's natural wicking properties. One odd thing I noticed with the Wool Wash is it didn't get the stink out of one of my shirts. I know that merino isn't supposed to hold odors but one of my shirts does. After washing with Wool Wash my shirt was soft and clean but the funk was still lingering. It did wonders on my wife's merino coat though. The Good
- All three formulated to revitalize, clean, and extend the life of your gear
- Wool wash didn't get the smell out of my shirt
- Base Wash scent was a little strong for my taste
Bottom Line:Want to get more life out of your gear? Get Nikwax. Buy Now: Pick up Nikwax Tech Wash, Nikwax Base Wash, or Nikwax Wool Wash.[gallery]... Read more...
The Columbia Triple Trail Jacket is a jacket to span all seasons. It'll be at home on the trail on cool spring days, keep you dry in camp during summer storms, and keep the white stuff at bay during mid-winter touring sessions.
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket Features
- Shell fabric: 100% nylon 3L Heat with Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable finish
- Stretch panels: 89% nylon/11% elastane 3L Heat Cyberstretch
- Lining: Omni-Heat® thermal reflective
- Waterproof, breathable and fully seam sealed
- Attached and adjustable storm hood
- Zippered vents beneath sleeves
- Hem features adjustable drawcord
- Zippered hand pockets
- Zippered interior security pocket
- Waterproof zippers throughout garment
- Center back length: 31 in
- Price: $299.95
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Triple Trail Jacket isn't like Columbia jackets of old. Prior to the Triple Trail my only other Columbia jacket was the Bugaboo with the zip out fleece when I was 12. That Bugaboo set my perception of Columbia, which remained for 18 years. The Triple Trail has changed that perspective for the better. The Triple Trail features a three-layer nylon laminate with strategically placed stretch panels so the jacket moves with you. The seams are all fully seam sealed to give true waterproof protection. The Omni-Tech finish keeps water at bay. Columbia used waterproof zippers throughout the entire jacket (helps with the clean look) and the zipper pulls are substantial enough that you can grab them, even when wearing a thick winter glove like the Columbia Omni-Heat Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves. The Triple Trail is fully lined (including the hood) with Omni-Heat reflective fabric. The tiny dots reflect back body heat (similar to a space blanket) but the space between the dots allows for breathability. The Omni-Heat lining keeps you warmer. It features two zippered hand pockets which are HUGE! They literally span from the hem to your shoulders. The first thing I thought of when I put my hands in was "these would be perfect pockets for your skins when running laps". But the interior isn't waterproof so you'll just end up soaking your layers. They are extra roomy. I would have loved to see a chest pocket on the jacket, but I don't know how it would have fit with the big pockets. The interior features one zippered pocket and open top pocket. As with most all "waterproof, breathable jackets" the Triple Trail is solid on the waterproof, but not as much so on the breathability. It does feature long pit-zips to help cool you down but I did overheat and sweat when exertion levels started to rise. Maybe I'm just warm, but I still have yet to find a shell I can wear when skinning without overheating. Both the hem and hood are adjustable. The hood features a stiff brim which will keep it from sagging when things start to get wet. The hood fits well but won't fit over a helmet. The Triple Trail would be a good jacket for 4 season use. Keep in mind, with the versatility there are compromises that are made. It is less packable than a dedicated rain jacket. But, you can wear the Triple Trail skiing and have full weather protection. The Omni-Heat lining adds bulk and weight, but it's warmer. If you want one jacket, the Triple Trail is a good way to go. The fit is good. I'm 6' tall and 180 lbs and the large fits me nicely. There is enough room that I can wear a medium weight mid-layer and still have free movement. I have long arms and I can extend them without the sleeves pulling up over my gloves (this makes a big difference for me). The jacket is cut long which makes it extremely nice for skiing. Overall I was extremely impressed with the Triple Trail Jacket. My perception of Columbia changed from that a mediocre outdoor brand to a brand that is now making premium outerwear. The Good
- Well made
- Breathability is all right, but I still overheated in it
- No chest pocket
Bottom Line:The Triple Trail Jacket is a solid jacket. It's well-made and a versatile jacket. If you want 4-season protection, you've got it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Triple Trail Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
As Brig delineated in his Osprey Karve Review, Osprey really is the backpack brand that other companies aspire to be. Quality, durability, thoughtful features and extreme attention to detail allow Osprey to market some of the higher end packs available. The Sirrus series, with packs available in a 24L or 36L size, is no exception.
Osprey Sirrus Packs Details
- Women's specific pack has a specially designed hip belt, and 3 different torso lengths to ensure a proper fit
- Suspended mesh back panel allows for superior ventilation. No back sweat!
- 5 exterior pockets in addition to main compartment
- Available in 36L or 24L sizes
- MSRP: $99 for 24L, $139 for 36L
Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack ReviewI was able to spend some time testing out a Sirrus 24L pack for Gear.com, and was quite impressed with all the small features that show true attention to detail. The oversized "o" shaped zipper pulls seem to really embody Osprey's approach to pack development- what a tiny thing to focus on! However, it becomes obvious why that was a good idea when you're fumbling to open your pack with gloves on. No problem. Worried about your gear getting wet in an unexpected downpour? Don't worry, the Sirrus packs both come with an integrated rain cover. Other features I enjoyed included the small stash pockets on the hip belt (great for stashing a CLIF Shot or two) and the side mesh pockets- finally, a pack whose pockets are big enough to accommodate a Nalgene! The available front pocket is just the right size for a small lunch, so you aren't rifling through the main compartment to look for your Pb&j. Also included is a smaller pocket for stashing your keys or other valuables. The main compartment of the 24L pack is big enough to hold some essentials for a day hike- a rain jacket, maybe an extra layer or two, and a small first aid kit fit comfortably in mine. However, this is where my only complaint for the Sirrus comes in- all these incredible features almost seem to be overkill in a pack of such small size. Yes, it's got great suspension and a mesh panel to help distribute weight, but how much distribution do you really need in a 24L pack. Unless you're packing rocks in there, the amount of space inside of the Sirrus 24L compared to the beefy design doesn't seem to even out. That being said, I imagine that the 36L pack would be a great choice for quick overnights! The 36L is a top loading pack as opposed to the panel loading 24L, which always seems to offer more space (compare a panel loading 24L to a top loading 24L. In every test I've done, I can always fit way more in the top loader). With that being the only major difference, the 36L would offer all the awesome, beefy features of the 24L, with enough usable space to actually need them! I've taken my 24L on several longer day hikes and cross-country ski adventures in the Chugach up here, an it's great. Durable material, features out the wazoo, lightweight... It just seems to feel like a large profile pack for the small amount of gear you need on a day hike. An area it really excels in is day hikes requiring technical equipment. Because the pack's frame is quite sturdy, and because it includes a single ice axe loop, tossing a mountaineering axe onto the Sirrus 24 is a breeze, and you don't have to worry about it flopping all over as you hike.
Bottom LineA beefy, featured filled day pack in the 24L, or an overnight pack in the 36L. Check it out: Osprey Sirrus Packs or the Men's Osprey Stratos Series ... Read more...
Looking for a good all-around softshell jacket? The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket will fit the bill. From running, to urban cycling, skiing, and hanging out the Moab brings solid performance.
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Features
- Fabric: 87 % polyester, 13 % elastane, 100% polyester backing, DWR finish
- Windproof rating: 20 CFM
- Merrell Aeroblock™ provides high wind-resistance and breathability
- Merrell Conductor thermal fleece inside provides versatile heat retention in varying conditions
- Bonded, lightweight Merrell Conductor fleece backing
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Zip-secure hand pockets / chest pocket
- No shoulder seam construction for greater water resistance and improved comfort under a backpack strap
- Center back length: 30 in (size large)
- Price: $128.95
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Review
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile softshell. The Aeroblock fabric provides good protection from the elements but actually breathes fairly decently too. It truly keeps pace with you as you begin to heat up. Of course in the most stenuous of exertions you'll get too warm but you should just take your jacket off anyway. During moderate exertion I didn't sweat out of the jacket. The DWR finish provides some rain protection but it won't keep pace in anything more than a light rain. The Moab is definitely at home in cold, dry, or snowy conditions. I typically won't run in jackets but with the Moab on cold days I could run in it without getting too warm.
The fit is good. I'm 6' tall, 180 lbs and the large fit me nicely. It does fit a little loose so you have some room for mid-layers.
The chest pocket and hand warmer pockets are fleece insulated but the inside of the pocket is the smooth side of the fleece. All pockets feature weatherproof zippers which are nice addition. I would have liked to see more substantial zipper pulls though. The thin pulls are a little awkward when wearing winter gloves.
The clean design and lines of the jacket keep it simple and you can pull off wearing the Moab out to dinner after a day on the hill without looking like you're wearing a ski jacket.
One thing that I would to have love to see with the Moab is a hooded option. On a versatile jacket a hood would cap the deal for me.
- Zipper pulls are thin for pulling with gloves
- No hood option
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile jacket and a great price point.
Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
Make your baselayers work a little bit harder. The Columbia Midweight Baselayers work harder for you with the addition of their Omni-Heat lining.
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Top Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Thumb holes
- Price: $59.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Bottom Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Gusset detail
- Price: $54.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayers ReviewThe Columbia Midweight Baselayers are a good all around baselayer for multi-season activities. In the fall and spring they work as stand alone layering pieces for cool weather exploits. I've found the top to be sufficient by itself for trail runs down into the 30s. In the winter they pair well as part of a layering system. The Omni-Heat reflective lining helps keep in additional warmth. As Columbia says "keeping you up to 20% warmer". When I first looked at the lining as I pulled the pieces out of the package I was skeptical. I thought it was going to feel like tin foil rubbing on my skin. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Omni-Heat lining is smooth and soft on the skin. I didn't notice it at all and it's surprisingly comfortable. The 4-way comfort stretch fabric helps with mobility and keeps you from feeling restricted when you're moving. The antimicrobial properties work wonders and you can even get away with wearing the pieces multiple times between washings. You know how typically with synthetic layers as you pull on your shirt for the second time you get repulsed by the stench? This isn't the case with the Columbia Midweight baselayer. The antimicrobial properties keep the smell at bay. The fit is definitely athletic. I'm 6 feet tall and 180 lbs and the large top and bottom fit me perfectly. One thing I will say on the fit is the arms are cut a little high so fits tight through the armpits. On the bottoms, do yourselves a favor gents and get the pair with the fly. I don't get why they'd make them without. The Good
- Warm & versatile
- Top fit a little tight through the armpits
- No fly on certain bottom models
Bottom Line:Looking for a solid baselayer to span multiple seasons? Get the Columbia Midweight Baselayers. Buy Now: Columbia Midweight Baselayers [gallery]... Read more...
As temperatures have been steadily in the negative twenties for the past couple of weeks up here in the Great White North, I've taken up a new hobby to thaw out- hot yoga. Nothing reminds your body of its own capability to sweat like working out in a 105 degree room for an hour and a half. For yoga class as of late, I've been wearing my new Moving Comfort Flow pants and Charity Sports bra to give them a good test.
Moving Comfort Flow Pants
- 2¼" contoured waistband
- Powermesh vent at center back waist
- Double layer crotch gusset
- Internal pocket
- 32" inseam, also available in "long" length
- MSRP: $66
- The waistband is awesome! As an active, fit individual, nothing irks me more than when I try on a pair of pants and they create that supergross "muffin top" look, just because of the way the fabric is shaped. The wide, contoured waistband makes sure that doesn't happen, and also means that the pants stay put, whether you are walking into class or wrapped up in Crow pose.
- Comfortable, and not so tight that you're uncomfortable walking around in public while wearing them.
- Durable poly/spandex blend makes for a beefy pair of pants- I can tell they will last through several vinyasas, runs, or whatever else I chose to do in them!
- The pants are a bit wide at the bottom. I would love it if they were a little more narrow, and looked a bit less "bell-bottom-y." They would have been pretty awesome for climbing too if they were a bit more narrow, but as it stands, that extra material would get in the way.
Moving Comfort Charity Sports Bra
- Small/Medium Cup Size
- Seam-free interior molded cups encapsulate for extra support and shaping
- Wide straps
- MSRP: $36
- Mesh panel along back of bra allows for additional ventilation
- Light lining gives you some cover without being full of padding, and helps to wick moisture away from your body
- The material is not terribly stretchy (which is what gives the bra its compression abilities), which means that the straps and band are fairly static. The band was a bit too tight on me, but a size larger would have been too big.
- A bit low cut for a sports bra
With the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves gone are the days of frozen hands and fingers. Columbia gave me a pair of gloves to test this winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves Features
- Fabric: 100% goatskin leather
- Omni-Heat electric, thermal reflective, and insulated
- Techlite battery compartment
- Outdry waterproof
- Split cowhide palm patch
- Long gauntlet
- One-hand shock cord hem adjustment
- Nose wipe
- Precision fit grip
- Price: $399.99
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves ReviewWhen I first heard about the Columbia Electric products I was highly skeptical. Adding electric heat to products has been tried in the past, rather unsuccesfully. This time around though, I think Columbia is on to something. The Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves are an all around good glove. First let's look at the heat. Operation is easy, just press the Columbia logo on the back of each glove. The heat comes in three modes: high, medium, and low. The button alternates colors when on: red for high, yellow for medium, green for low. On a full battery charge you'll get 2.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium, 4 hours on low. The heat that is produced is more of a slow, radiating heat as opposed to a burst of heat. I've found the best heat performance comes from preheating the gloves before my hands were cold. The gloves will heat your hands back up after they are cold, but with the slow, radiating heat it does take some time. It won't be quick like a typical hand warmer. The gloves charge via micro-USB and take about 3 hours to charge. What I like about the cords is they are a micro-USB to USB combo which gives you a few different options for charging using the single cord and any available USB port. The gloves do come with everything necesary to charge, including 2 USB cables, 1 USB wall adapter, plus international adapter plugs. The gloves are lined with Omni-Heat reflective fabric which is supposed to reflect the heat that would ordinarily dissipate out of the glove back into the glove. I did find that the thumbs aren't heated. A little research shows a heating wire may cross the thumb but my thumbs still got cold. Without the heat, the Bugaglove is still a great winter glove. I found it preferrable for skiing. The goatskin leather is durable and very weather resistent. It's pliable, even in cold conditions. The gauntlets are long which is great when skiing or anytime you have to dig around in the snow. The gloves are bulky so dexterity is compromised similar to what you see for most winter gloves. The Outdry fabric is awesome and it definitely keeps your hands dry. My biggest gripe with the glove is there isn't a soft nose wipe. The specs say it's there but it's not. Any amount of time spend outside, especially skiing, and your nose is going to run. Goatskin leather isn't very good at wiping or absorbing. Sizing is good. I normally wear a size XL glove because I have long fingers. The XL in the Bugaglove fits me perfectly. Overall I've had a good experience with the Bugaglove. Are they worth $399? I'd be hard-pressed to say yes. It's a cool concept but I don't think it's worth it, yet. If you have the money to burn, go for it. Columbia is definitely on to something and I'm looking forward to future iterations of Electric. The Good
- Electic Heat
- Materials are high quality
- Good performing ski glove
- No nose wipe
Bottom Line:Warm glove, good glove, cool concept. If you have the money, spend it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves[gallery orderby="title"]... Read more...
I've been sold on minimalist running shoes for about a year now. The Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe is a nice addition to your running shoe arsenal.
Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe FeaturesUPPER/LINING
- Microfiber footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
- Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing System provides a precise, glovelike fit
- 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
- 1 mm forefoot shock absorbtion plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
- 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
- Vegan friendly footwear
- Vibram® Trail Glove Sole/Rubber Compound TC-1
- Men’s Weight: 6.5 ozs (1/2 pair)
- Price: $125
Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe ReviewThe Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe is very similar to the Trail Glove shoes. You can read my review of the Trail Glove here. The Sonic Glove and the Trail Glove are very similar. The Sonic Glove shoes are relatively lightweight, the Omni-Fit lacing allows for a precise fit, and soles are very similar. The soles give great performance on dry trails but do slip around a little on muddy trails and in the snow. The biggest differences between the Sonic Glove and the Trail Glove are: upper, lacing, and breatheability. The upper is a softshell material. It provides greater protection over the mesh of the Trail Glove from the elements. While not totally waterproof, it does shed some water. It's also great for dusty trails. It really helps keep the dust out of the shoe. One potential drawback that I've found is the breatheability isn't quite as good as mesh. On hot days, this could be an issue. But for cooler weather I've liked it. The lacing changed up a little too. The biggest difference is there are four "loop" eyelets vs five on the Trail Glove. I haven't noticed any performance differences between 4 vs 5. I still get a great fit when tying my shoes. I don't have to cinch them quite as tight since the softshell doesn't stretch as much as the mesh. Sizing still runs about the same, a little big. If you're between sizes, you could likely go a half size down and be fine. I think Merrell hit a home run with the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove is no exception. Very similar shoe but will fit a different set of needs. The Good
- Softshell upper gives protection from elements and makes the shoe a little warmer than mesh models
- Same great sole
- If you run where it's hot or you don't like hot feet, the softshell upper might not work for you
- Sole is still a little slippery in the mud
Bottom Line:The Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe is a great minimalist shoe. Good for running in variable weather. Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Sonic Glove Running Shoe [gallery orderby="title"]... Read more...
The highly versatile Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is a jacket that could fit just about everyone's needs.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Features
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® Insulated Shells fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Fully adjustable hood
- Double-sliding front zipper with internal stormflap
- Zippered napoleon pocket; zippered internal chest pocket with media port
- Two zippered handwarmer pockets; one doubles as stuff sack
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- Dual drawcord hem adjustments
- Price: $224.95
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewIn short, the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I own. It's lightweight, versatile, and extremely comfortable. Outdoor Research got so many things right with the Havoc. The lightweight Primaloft insulation is just enough to help take the chill off on chilly fall days and when paired with a nice mid-layer it's great for cold winter days. The Havoc packs down to be about the size of small loaf of bread so it won't take up much room in your pack. I was skeptical of the value on Windstopper on an insulated jacket. I'm sold though. I think the lightweight nature of the jacket would let the wind though. The combo of the insulation and the Windstopper gives the Havoc an edge on the cold. I couldn't believe how comfortable the Havoc is. I've worn it all day (literally all day) and I didn't get of of the typical annoyances you get with other jackets when you wear them all day. It's also at home just anywhere from keeping you warm on the chair, as a belay jacket, hiking, and camping (even works for biking around town in the winter time). A couple of notes on the hood: it's insulated, adjustable, can fit over a climbing helmet (but not a ski helmet), and it's non-removable. It also doesn't "stow away" at all. Hand warmer pockets are fleece-lined and roomy. Internal pocket does has a headphone port if you're into that sort of thing. The jacket stows in one of the hand pockets. The fit is nice as well. It does run "true to size". I'm 6 feet, 180 lbs, and the large fits me nicely. It does have room so if you wear a mid-layer (I've worn it with a fleece before) you won't be feeling squeezed. The Good
- No way to stow the hood
Bottom Line:Hands down the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I've owned. It's made it's way into my permanent collection. Buy Now: Pick up the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
Keep your feet toasty warm and comfortable with the Keen Howser Wool Slip On shoe.
Keen Howser Wool Slip Ons: The Details
- Slip on shoes with rubber, non-marking sole
- Exterior is recycled felted wool
- Interior is plush microfleece lining
- Keen.Cush footbed
- MSRP $65.00
Keen Howser Wool Slip Ons: The ReviewKeen has been on a roll lately. Every pair of shoes or boots I've tested, I've loved. The Wool Howser is no exception. Intended to be a slipper, I've taken to wearing it to work on a semi-regular basis. The Wool Howser is comfortable slip on shoe, and offers just the right amount of warmth. Your feet won't be sweating but they won't be freezing either. I love them! The elastic side panels allow for easy entry into the shoes. I have mid-height arches and the Howsers fit fine and are easy to slip on and off.
- Stylish enough to pass for regular shoes! The slip design and stitching of the felted Wool Howsers allows them to pass for regular shoes.
- The rubberized sole means that even if you only wear them as slippers, walking outside to let Fido out in the mornings won't result in soggy feet for the remainder of the day.
- So. Comfortable. Really. I have hardly taken mine off since they arrived.
- The only thing I am bummed out about is that the felted wool pills a bit. While this is to be expected to some point with that material, the pilling eventually rips off, and you're left with small "bald spots" on the slippers. If that really bugs you, check out the Keen Howsers (the non-wool version of the same slipper).
Osprey is the backpack brand that many others aspire to be. It is focused squarely on extremely well-designed high end packs as a primary competence. As such, it can charge more than many other brands can. Because if you've ever tried an Osprey pack, you know that it is built like a German car --- endlessly engineered for performance, above all. My favorite Osprey feature? The easy-to-grab zipper pulls, shaped like an O. It's an ingenious tiny little thing that makes them so much easier to use. With a long-time reputation for performance long-trek backpacks, Osprey also offers packs for the growing segment of backcountry skiers and snowboarders who simply need a sidecountry excursion pack. The Osprey Karve 16 is precisely that: an excursion pack. The Karve 16 is named as such because in the M/L size it has a gear capacity of 16 liters (or, 980 cubic inches). That makes it quite small --- not a full daypack, compared with most backcountry ski packs (for comparison, the ubiquitous Dakine Heli Pro ski pack is 1200 cubic inches). But definitely a nice, compact size for resort skiing at Alta or Alpental when you never know if you might pop out to the backcountry for a run. So the Karve is appropriately dubbed as a sidecountry pack, and that's what I believe it to be ideal for: carrying your hydration pouch, skins, a small avy shovel and probe, and that's about it. Maybe a ProBar or two. But for being such a compact pack, it has some excellent features. It has a diagonal ski carry system which, once you get it figured out, is ideal for carrying today's wider skis. Thankfully most Osprey gear comes with a small instruction manual that you'll want to study to get the most out of it. The Karve is lightweight, which is one of its best qualities. It weighs in at just an ounce over two pounds. It sports a pocket for your hydration bladder, and stowage for your straw in the shoulder strap to save it from freezing. It also has external sleeves that are just large enough for a probe and a shovel handle, with a back panel for the shovel blade. The Karve also boasts diagonal compression straps and a small "personals" pocket on the back for wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. The main panel compartment can hold your skins, but not much else. And of course the pack's suspension has a hip belt and sternum strap, and a well-structured spine panel. As a sidecountry pack, the Osprey Karve 16 is an excellent pack. For full days in the backcountry, you'll probably want something more sizable. But for trips out into the North and South backcountry at Crystal Mountain for example? Or a quick spin on a snowmobile? Osprey appears to have hit the high mark once again. SHOP: Search for more Osprey gear....Read more...
With 100% recycled polyester lining, 650 fill power down filling and a stylish design, Horny Toad's Geisha Vest attempts to merge stylish form and function into one.
Horny Toad Geisha Vest Details
- Lining is 100% recycled polyester
- 650fp down-filled wide horizontal baffles
- Exposed asymmetric full-front zipper with wind flap
- Interior chest zip pocket
Horny Toad Geisha Vest ReviewNormally, I am quite a fan of Horny Toad's clothes and designs. On paper, the Geisha vest looked like a super cute idea. However, when I got the vest, I was a bit disappointed. While the design looks cute, the sizing was super off and the exterior material was not my favorite texture. Usually a size "small" in most clothing items/gear, I was swimming in the Small Geisha Vest. I think that even an Extra Small would have been quite large. Both the torso length and the width were inches too big. Sorry Horny Toad, while I normally love your products, this one is a swing and a miss for me! That being said, the Geisha vest has a lot of great features, and would be a great, stylish-yet-functional piece if it fit! The asymmetrical zipper adds a bit of flair to your average down vest that you don't usually see. I love that Horny Toad has moved towards using recycled materials in their clothing, including the 100% recycled lining of the Geisha Vest.
- Warm warm warm! 650 fill power down keeps you toasty.
- I like the idea behind the shawl collar- added warmth and a bit of style.
- The fit is not what I would call on par with the rest of Horny Toad's line, or standard outdoor apparel sizing.
Check It OutHorny Toad Geisha Vest... Read more...
Looking to film your latest epic? Consider the Drift HD Point-of-View Camera for your filming needs, especially if you've got some mad filming skills and are looking for a camera that can keep up with them.
Drift HD Point-of-View Camera Details
- Maximum video resolution: 1080p High Definition
- Capable of taking still photos
- 4x digital zoom
- 170° Fully Rotatable Wide Angle Lens
- LCD Display Screen
- Water Resistant
- Camera includes flat surface mount, rounded surface mount, goggle mount, handlebar mount, remote and camera
- MSRP: $369.00
Drift HD Point-of-View Camera ReviewNever having owned a Point-of-View camera before (or a video camera, for that matter), I was super stoked to take the Drift out backcountry skiing with me to chronicle some of the amazing terrain I have the opportunity to be skiing right now. After about a month of use, I have what is far from epic footage and a healthy respect for people who can make their own helmet cam videos look remotely cool. While the Drift is relatively easy to operate, capturing that perfect segment of shredding from an angle that makes it look rad as opposed to flat and boring is not nearly so simple. I'm definitely still working on that! However, since I'm reviewing the Drift and not my own personal cinematography skills, lets get to that. Overall, the Drift has some amazing features. The 170 degree lens allows you to really get the scope of the terrain you're in or on. The remote allows for easy on and off of the camera, and saves you battery life and editing time later on. The Drift is also the only POV camera that comes with an LCD screen, which I love! You can see what you're filming, ensure that the camera is in fact on and ready to go, and you can also navigate the menu from looking at that LCD screen. The menu allows you to edit the camera settings, the settings of the video itself (1080p or 720p, adjust frames per second, etc), and the settings of the still photo mode (frame rate). While I like (ok, LOVE) the remote, and like the LCD display, I honestly didn't use too many of the other features. I'd toss the camera on my goggles at the top of the climb, press the button to turn it on, and then use the remote to start recording. Overall, that's about what I wanted out a point of view camera- just point and shoot. I'm hoping to continue to learn about the features and utilize them more, but at this point, they just weren't something I needed. Drift seems to have gone above and beyond in their selection of features for the Drift HD. The remote (yup, we're talking about that again) not only allows you to start and stop video without banging at your head, but it provides a "beep" noise when the button has been pushed to let you know that you've started/stopped filming. The lens itself is replaceable, so if you accidentally scratch it, your whole camera isn't trashed. The rotating lens allows for mounting on the side of a helmet or the top of a helmet while still filming the same thing. The Drift HD comes with a low-light/night filming mode, which is awesome up here when the sun doesn't come up til 10:30am. Along with an integrated microphone, the Drift HD comes with the capability of hooking up an external mic, so you could get clear, crisp narration if you wanted. All of these smaller features really indicate that Drift has put a lot of thought into the Drift HD.
- The remote is awesome! I love that there is no fiddling around with your head when you want to start filming, and the auditory feedback beep that confirms it has started is also pretty awesome.
- Rubberized exterior makes it easy to grab a hold of, gloves on or not.
- The Drift comes with several mounts when you purchase the camera. Add up how much they'd cost you to buy independently and it's around $75 bucks... When you factor that into the total Drift price, which originally seems significantly steeper than your average POV camera, it brings the overall cost down quite a bit.
- The Drift HD, Drift's newest model, is smaller and more aerodynamic than previous Drifts. So if you've looked at one before but thought it was too clunky, check out the Drift HD. It's shorter, skinnier and weighs just 4.86 oz. Unless my research is wrong, that makes the Drift one of the lighter cameras on the market.
- If you're not super camera savvy, a lot of the features are not super important to you. For example, the difference between 720, 1080, etc, doesn't mean a lot to your average Joe. While I understand that this is what makes the Drift an incredibly versatile camera, you might be paying for features you're not going to use.
- The "quick guide" that the Drift comes with doesn't provide a ton of information. To learn more about features of the camera and how to use them, I had to go to the Drift website and search for the information there. I was surprised there wasn't a more detailed manual included with the camera.
Check It OutDrift HD Camera... Read more...
Seen any ladies running around in what looks like a puffy jacket, but they're wearing it as a skirt? It's most likely a Skhoop Skirt, an insulated, water resistant skirt made to be worn over your regular layers. A little skeptical about the idea of a skirt as a functional piece of clothing? So was I. Read on and you won't be!
Skhoop Short Down Skirt- The Details
- Insulated with 500+ fillpower down
- Exterior is a water repellant polyester
- 1 side full zip, 1 side zip to hip
- Available in Black, Turquiose or Plum
- Sizes XS-XXL
- MSRP: $159
The Scoop on the SkhoopI am the first to admit that the idea of skirts for outdoor pursuits irritates me. The whole "running skirt" phenomenon was something I never understood. Why can't you just wear shorts like everyone else? So, when I spent my first winter in Alaska and I saw the ENTIRE town that I live in wearing these Skhoop down skirts in the Fall and Winter, I was, of course, flummoxed. Here were these women that I considered rational, non-cutesy fashion obsessed, normal people, and they were all wearing some form of Skhoop skirt. Either it was the Rain Skirt in the fall, Insulated Long Skirt or the Short Down Skirts in the winter, but they were everywhere. What was I missing? Naturally, curiosity got the better of me, and I contacted Skhoop to see if I could test one for Gear.com and get the scoop (no pun intended) on these things. As it turns out, Skhoop and all the ladies of Girdwood, AK were on to something. Unlike the running skirt craze, these Skhoop skirts are actually quite functional. Based out of Sweeden, Skhoop understands what living in a cold environment is like. When I wake up every morning and go to take my dog on a walk, there are usually several layers of down, a shell, mittens and a hat that come along with us. Even with all that, when the high is in the single digits, it's still a bit chilly. Wearing a Skhoop skirt is much like wearing snow pants- it keeps your legs warm and insulated. However, there's no battle with putting on a marshmellow-eqse pair of insulated pants over your jeans. Simply zip the skirt open, step in, and zip it closed. No pants changing required. Back in from your walk? Zip, slip off, done.
- Keeps you toasty warm on walks, no matter the weather
- Full zip on one side allows for easy on and off
- Water resistant material beads off snow easily
- The length is great! I love that I can still maneuver just as I would if I was wearing only pants. Short enough not to get in the way and long enough to cover your thighs and keep you warm. The skirt comes down to about 2 inches above my knees, and my rain/snow boots come up to about 2 inches below them, so pretty much everything is covered!
- An unusual added bonus- I don't have a garage and my Subaru has leather seats, which get super cold outside overnight. My Skhoop skirt keeps my bum from freezing while my car is still warming up as I drive to work.
- I can't seem to stop the skirt from riding up a bit higher than I'd like it to. If I wore a size larger, it'd fall right off my waist, but the current size I have seems to want to migrate about 4 inches further up than I'd like to to, so I feel like I spend a fair amount of time yanking it back down to sit on my hips as opposed to my waist.
Bottom LineI am a down skirt convert. Like snow pants for adults, but more functional and less "marshmallow man" looking.
Check 'Em OutSkhoop makes several different types of skirts, and REI has just started carrying a selection of them: Skhoop Skirts at REI Or, for the one that I tried and loved: Skhoop Short Down Skirt Even more choices at www.Skhoop.us, Skhoop's website.... Read more...
Looking to take on any trail? The LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoes will take on just about anything you can throw at them.
LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoes Features
- UPPER: Synthetic/microfiber
- MIDSOLE: Bi-density EVA with Monowrap® stability
- LINING: Waterproof GORE-TEX®
- OUTSOLE: LOWA Spine proprietary sole technology that works with the natural rolling movement of a runner's stride
- FOOTBED: Ortholite
- Price: $159.95
LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoes ReviewThe LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoes are inspired by the LOWA hiking boot line but with a focus on "fast". I did find, though, that the S-Cruise is more of a hiking shoe than a trail running shoe. The last, footbed, and shank are more conducive to hiking than running. For hiking I found it performed very well. For running I didn't like as much. For short distances they were all right. Anything longer than a couple of miles and I was wishing I was wearing a different trail running shoe. Taking that frame of mind, the S-Cruise GTX is a good hiking shoe. The aggressive tread and stiff shank provide a stable platform. Lateral stability is high. The GORE-Tex keeps your feet dry when it's wet out. It even helps keep your feet a little warmer when it's cold. On hot days though, the GORE-Tex doesn't breathe as well as a shoes without it (that's a given, it makes sense). The S-Cruise has a great fit. They run "true to size" and conform nicely to your foot. They were comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I didn't ever run into issues with rubbing or hot spots on my feet. The Ortholite footbed hugs the bottom of your foot providing good arch support. The S-Cruise is a well-made shoe. Construction is sturdy and I haven't seen any signs of excessive wear in my time testing it. The Good
- Good Stability
- Good Constuction
- Great Fit
- More of a hiking shoe than a trail running shoe (bad only if you are looking for trail run shoe)
Bottom Line:The LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoe is a good shoe for all around trail tackling with more of an emphasis on hiking. Buy Now: Pick up some LOWA S-Cruise GTX Trail Running Shoes [gallery]... Read more...
Icebreaker, the veritable king of the wool world, has your back if you still don't have a gift for that active individual on your holiday gift list. The Icebreaker Tech Top, a midweight base layer, has almost all the functional features you'd want, and will keep the winter chill away for any outdoor activity.
Icebreaker Tech Top Details
- Icebreaker 260 g/m2 Merino Wool
- 3 Way Collar- Zipped up, zipped down or rolled down
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $110
Icebreaker Tech Top ReviewAfter making the Tech Top my go to piece for my last several ski tours, I am loving it! I have worn it for 10+ tours and haven't washed it yet- no stench! For my full "wool vs. synthetic" commentary, see my review of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings (which, coincidentally, I have worn on all the tours I've had the Tech Top out for). The heavier weight wool provides ample warmth on the cooler days, but might be overkill for the milder days.
- Thummies! Though I'm sure that's not the technical term, the Tech top comes with the ever-wonderful thumb loops which I refer to as thummies. Keeps your sleeves from riding up as you layer. I love it.
- Stink free and fuzzy soft. I'm not going to re-argue the benefits of wool here, but I continue to be a fan. After multiple wears, the Tech Top isn't smelly or scratchy. Go wool.
- The Tech Top isn't incredibly long. Though the back side is longer than the front (that's your drop tail hem), the front could use to be a bit longer. It worked fine for layering, but I would have loved to see it about an inch longer in the front.
- No pocket. I love the Napoleon pocket on layers like this and was a bit disappointed to see that the Tech top didn't come with one. That's usually my go-to location to stash my iPod and a CLIF shot.
Bottom LineA great cool weather layering piece that keeps the stink at bay.
Check it OutIcebreaker Tech Top... Read more...
From the rugged Teton Mountains, Mountain Khakis delivers apparel for the rugged mountain lifestyle. Recently, I've had the chance to check out several of their latest styles and the style and function is perfect for unpredictable conditions both in and out of the mountains.
Mountain Khakis Old Faithful SweatherJust like its namesake, the Old Faithful Sweater offers classic styling and comfort for all-day adventure. The full-zip front makes this sweater feel much like a jacket, but its fitted enough to wear underneath a shell, if needed. The fit and look of the Old Faithful is very classic and clean, making it one of the more versatile pieces I've seen in the Mountain Khakis line. Available in Oatmeal, Storm Blue and Charcoal with a $119.95 msrp. shop now
Mountain Khakis Trapper HenleyOne of the staples of any wardrobe is the classic henley. The Trapper offers extreme comfort and, like all Mountain Khakis apparel, is built to withstand heaps of abuse. The all-natural cotton/superfine merino wool blend makes for an extra-comfortable shirt as a layering piece in the Winter or to slap on in a cool Summer evening. Available in Engine Red, Loden, Granite and Navy with a $54.95 msrp. shop now
Mountain Khakis Stagecoach JacketA classic canvas jacket screams mountain lifestyle and the Stagecoach Jacket fits right in. The proprietary cotton canvas material is tough and ready for work. The nylon-lined sleeves make for easy on/off without bunching your sleeves up your arm and bombproof construction make this jacket extra-sturdy for years of abuse. Available in Yellowstone, Ranch, Pine and Granite with a $154.95 msrp. shop now Buy Now: Search for Mountain Khakis Apparel... Read more...
I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the most important factors to consider when bike commuting is making sure you are seen by those nearby. The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light helps ensure that you are. The updated specs and flash pattern plus 100 hour battery life help ensure that motorists will see you from behind.
Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light Features
- One Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
- New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
- Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight
- Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
- Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
- Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on
- 2 AAA batteries (included)
- Price: $34
Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light ReviewThe Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light is very similar to the "regular" Planet Bike Superflash Tail Light. Same body design, same attachment. The main differences come in the LEDs, flash pattern, and reflector. The Superflash Turbo features a one-watt Power LED, twice the wattage of the regular Superflash. The one-watt is bright! It is still paired with two smaller red LEDs for increased visibility. Even with the larger wattage battery life clocks in up to 100 hours, same as the Superflash. I haven't run the batteries out yet! With that in mind, I haven't been able to test to see if the lights begin to dim as you near the end of the battery life. The flash pattern has been changed up from past models. It is still very attention grabbing and will get you noticed. It can best be described as an off-tempo strobe that alternates between super bright and bright flashes with the one-watt bulb. The smaller lights give a more consistent strobe. Video below demonstrates the strobe. The reflector is clear with a red cover over the one-watt bulb. It is clear on the sides, giving you 180 degrees of visibility from the rear. The Superflash Turbo does come with the bike mount along with a clothing clip on the back of the light so you can slide it onto a pack strap or onto your belt. The clip is replaceable, which is a huge plus for me. I've broken clips on similar lights in the past and have to buy whole new lights to because of this small failure. This really showcases to me the thought that Planet Bike puts into their lights. One downfall is the Superflash Turbo doesn't have a battery life indicator. The Good
- Super bright
- Attention getting
- Well thought out design
- No battery life indicator
Bottom Line:Be visible with the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light. Planet Bike makes some of the best lights out there and the Superflash Turbo is no exception. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light [gallery]... Read more...
I've been a fan of Montrail for a number of years. I've been a little let down to not see a minimalist shoe in their line up yet. The Montrail Rogue Racer Trail Running Shoe is a step closer to a true minimalist shoe.
Montrail Rogue Racer Trail Running Shoe Features
- External TPU shank and Trail Shield plate for flexible underfoot protection
- Gryptonite sticky rubber outsole for optimal traction on a variety of trail surfaces
- Micro three-point lug design for extreme lightweight multidirectional traction
- Compression-molded EVA midsole for shock-absorbing cushion
- Low profile midsole for flexibility and a fast responsive feel on the trail
- Horizontal and vertical flex grooves provide forefoot flexibility
- Breathable mesh upper with synthetic support
- Perforated outsole reduces weight
- Ride height: 20 mm heel, 10 mm forefoot
- Fit notes: Secure fit
- Weight: 8.8 oz
- Price: $110
Montrail Rogue Racer Trail Running Shoe ReviewThe Montrail Rogue Racer Trail Running Shoe is an all around good shoe. While it's not truly a "minimalist" shoe, Montrail did cut down on the padding, giving a better feel underfoot. The padding is still enough to absorb most of the irregularities in the trail. You might start to feel it on the rockiest of trails but for the most part you should be good to go. The mesh upper lends itself to helping your feet stay cool on hot days. I didn't notice excessive stretching or movement that you usually get with a lot of mesh shoes. Fit was true to size and secure. I was able to cinch the shoes down enough to keep my foot stable, even on variable trails. Tread is aggressive enough to give good traction on dirt, rocks, and mud. If you run a mix of trails and road the Rogue Racer would be a good shoe. I've spent time on both trails and roads in these shoes and they cross over nicely. Additionally, the lower padding and flexibility of the shoe allow for a forefoot strike that isn't awkward.
Bottom Line:Great all around, low padding shoe. Buy Now: Pick up the Montrail Rogue Racer Trail Running Shoe [gallery]... Read more...
When I pack for a trip, whether it's a backpacking trip, a climbing trip, or a visit home to family, the first thing I dig out is the bag I'm going to take. The second thing I grab is my old pile of Black Diamond climbing harness bags. Yes, you read that right. Old harness bags. You know, those mesh zippy things? I organize my packing inside those climbing harness bags. Or, I should say, I used to. When eBags approached Gear.com and asked us to test out their Bags by eBags Packing Cubes, I realized that the climbing harness bags were out of work. Heard of the eBags website before? These packing cubes are eBags' own brand of packing product.
Bags by eBags Packing Cubes: The Details
- 3 piece set includes 1 small, 1 medium and 1 large packing cube.
- Also available in slim sizes
- Small cube dimensions: 11" x 6.75" x 3"
- Medium cube dimensions: 13.75" x 9.75" x 3"
- Large cube dimensions: 17.5" x 12.75" x 3.25
- Webbing handle and double zippers make accessing and opening a breeze.
- MSRP for 3 Piece Set: $23.99
Bags by eBags Packing Cubes: The ReviewI have always been a fan of organizing my packing, as I explained above. However, I've always made do with old, ratty, and now stinky climbing harness bags. Each time my friends scored a new harness, I would hound them to keep the bag. Now, thanks to Bags by eBags Packing Cubes, I won't have to do that any more. And, I won't have to try and make all of my belongings conform to the single size of a harness bag. For a trip home, I like to keep my pants and shirts in one compartment, socks/underwear/bras in another, and pajamas/sweatshirts in another compartment. Then, well, I naturally have to have a separate compartment for my toiletries. The packing cubes allow me to do all these things, and they stack so nicely on top of each other. It's organization on a whole new level, and it thrills me. Climbing trips can stay organized now, with climbing clothes in one packing cube, climbing shoes in another, and non-climbing, post route layers in yet another. No more digging for hours to find a sweatshirt. For the holiday season, eBags has brought even more organizational joy. Not only are the packing cubes a great packing and organizing tool, but they now come in seven different colors. Now, I know what you're thinking... Color Claire? Really? Who cares? Well, here's where you'll get excited (or at least, where I got excited). The new colors of the eBags packing cubes happen to correspond perfectly with the colors of The North Face BaseCamp Duffle Bags. Peony, Eggplant, Canary, Tangerine and Aquamarine, plus original colors of Black, Blue, Green and Grey and Red. So, if you, for example, have two people going on a trip, one person can take the red TNF duffle, and one person the yellow TNF duffle, and the person with the red duffle can have the red packing cubes, and the person with the yellow duffle the yellow packing cubes. Not just organization, but perfectly color coordinated organization. Don't own a TNF duffle? Don't worry, you'll still love the new colors.
Bottom LineLooking for the perfect gift for the organize-obsessed individual on your list? Check out eBags Packing Cubes, in one of the seven stellar new colors. They'll love these more than their highlighter that dispenses post-its. I know I did. Buy Now: eBags Packing Cubes or eBags Slim Packing Cube... Read more...
A lightweight, compressible shell for those "light-and-fast" days, Mountain Hardwear's new Drystein Jacket offers the waterproof protection of a 3 layer shell with the breathability of a softshell. I had the opportunity to put the Dry-Q Elite fabric to the test up in Southcentral Alaska during our Fall to Winter transition, which is notorious for rain, sleet and snow.
Mountain Hardwear Drystein Details
- Composed of Mountain Hardwear's Dry-Q Elite Waterproof Breathable Fabric (see below for more info)
- Weather-resistant stretch side panels add breathability and replace pit-zips
- Helmet-compatible hood
- 2-way watertight front zipper
- Adjustable cuffs and drawcord hem
- Chest-high hand pockets accommodate a harness or pack
- Interior zip pockets
Mountain Hardwear Drystein ReviewWith Mountain Hardwear's debut of their Dry-Q Elite fabric, they've also debuted a whole new line of shell jackets, including the Women's Drystein Jacket. At 1.4 lbs, this waterproof breathable shell is lightweight, packable, and still highly waterproof. Check out the photos- after hours outside in a downpour, the Dry-Q Elite was still beading and repelling water beautifully.
The Down-Low on Dry-QWhat is Dry-Q Elite? Composed of 3 layers, Dry-Q Elite is a completely waterproof yet completely breathable fabric that essentially “turns on” as soon as you start your activity. According to MH, traditional waterproof-breathable fabrics require that the inside of the jacket (the part touching you) must reach a certain level of humidity before the material will breathe. With Dry-Q Elite, this technology is “always on.” The theory is that as soon as you start to sweat, this fabric begins to breath, eliminating that gross clammy feeling that is usually associated with sweating in a shell jacket. After several ski tours in the Drystein, I can say that this is true. I toured with my Drystein on, and never once got gross and clammy inside.
The DrysteinOverall, I loved the Dry-Q Elite fabric. I'll definitely be purchasing more Dry-Q products in the future. However, the fit and design of the Drystein were not as versatile as I would have hoped. The arms are very narrow for a shell, making layering difficult. I was able to wear a wool zip-up and a t-shirt under the Drystein and that was max capacity. Even my Patagonia NanoPuff wouldn't fit under the Drystein without major shoulder constriction. The problem wouldn't have been solved by sizing up, as the waist and length fit perfectly. A larger size and the shell would have become a dress. So, if you're looking for a light-and-fast waterproof breathable shell that you won't need to worry about wearing multiple layers underneath, you're stoked about the Drystein. If you're a fan of layering, as I am, another Dry-Q Elite shell, such as the Asteria, might be more your speed. I like to be able to get to the top of a peak and toss my insulation later on, and then put my shell on over that, so I can protect my insulation from getting wet. However, if you don't need that room for layers, the Drystein fit is perfect- long enough to provide good coverage, nice motion in the sleeves despite them being narrow, and a great overall width of the jacket. I will definitely reach for my Drystein when I hit the trails for an all day excursion in Fall or Spring and want to know that I'll be protected from the elements, no matter how hard it rains! However, at $425 a shell, I wish the Drystein was a bit more versatile.
- Dry-Q Elite Fabric is unmatched. Waterproof in a monsoon, and the most breathable shell I've worn to date.
- Pliability of Dry-Q Elite makes it very easily packable
- Helmet brim and adjustability are fantastic, and make it easy to keep the water off your face but not lose your peripheral vision.
- Shell design prohibits layering due to constricting shoulder fit
- No pit zips- though the Dry-Q fabric keeps you from getting clammy, there's no way to immediately get a rush of air, which is nice after a big push of activity.
- The pockets aren't waterproof- they're mesh. Open them up mid-monsoon and you'll have a soupy mess inside your jacket. The zippers are watertight, so as long as they're closed, you're good.
Bottom LineA waterproof breathable shell that truly is both waterproof and super breathable. Best used for light-and-fast, minimal layering needs kind of situations. Check out the Mountain Hardwear Drystein Jacket... Read more...
The CamelBak Ultra LR vest is an incredibly lightweight vest that holds a 2.0 liter reservoir pouch for hydration. The pouch is easy to fill thanks to the wide mouth with a screw on cap, and since the pouch holds the water around your waist it feels very comfortable to wear with the weight on your hips instead of in a ball on your back, even when it’s completely full. Since this vest is largely made of mesh it is lightweight and breathable. It also has two zippered hip pockets, two breast pockets and a larger pocket in back that’s large enough to stash a shedded layer --- which I often had to do during the hot hikes I used it on throughout the desert and mountains of Utah last summer. I was a little concerned at first that this vest may not fit me properly because I’m only 5’2” on a good day and have a smaller frame. Otherwise ideal vests and packs haven’t worked because they are just too big on me. But the Ultra LR comes in multiple sizes for different torsos, and once I cinched everything up on the smallest one it fit a little gal like me perfectly. Because of its glove-like fit (two sternum straps and hex-style shoulder padding, thank you!), this vest is the ideal hydration pack for fast day hikes, trail running and ultrathons. Planning to do the North/South route of the Olympic National Park in a single day? This is your pack. Although it’s a small detail, I like that this vest has a 1.5” strip of reflective tape in the back, near the zipper to access the bladder. It also has reflective tape on the front. This vest is going to be the perfect companion when I run my legs of the Wasatch Back this summer. It holds just enough for long distances without being bulky, the mesh keeps it so lightweight and breathable, and if you’re running in the dark you’ve got some reflective tape. This vest would be perfect for marathons, Ragnars, or just about any type of distance sport or race. CamelBak really has thought of every detail for this vest. Some of the items in my “gear closet” come and go, but this one definitely has a permanent home! SHOP: Click here for more CamelBak gear....Read more...
Going on a long road trip but don't have enough room in the car? What about too many kids in the family for the luggage room in your vehicle? Wife (or husband) that packs too much? Take the anxiety out of packing with the Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box.
Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box Features
- Cargo Capacity: 11 cu ft
- Dimension: 89" x 22" x 14"
- Weight: 35 lbs
- Bar Compatibility: Round, Square, most factory crossbars
- Price: $329.00
Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box ReviewOur family car used to be a Toyota Corolla. For any long or gear intensive trips the Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box was a trip saver, especially after we had kids. Long gone are the days of being so crammed in the car with gear. In terms of capacity 11 cu ft doesn't sound like much but I was pleasantly surprised with how much we could fit in the box. A typical trip the Rocketbox will be packed with a climbing pack with a full rack, rope, kid carrier backpack, umbrella stroller, camp chairs, fishing poles, family tent, and a few other smaller items with some room to spare. In the winter time the Rocketbox 11 is great for hauling your planks (single or double) to and from the mountain. The 89 inches of length will fit just about any pair of skis and boards are no problem. It's a great way to keep your boards from getting coated in road salt and grime. I've been able to fit two pairs of skis, a board, and two pairs of poles in the Rocketbox 11. There may have been enough room to fit another pair of skis or another board but I haven't tried. I have the slightly older model of the Rocketbox. Even so, it was extremely easy to install. The updated hardwear is even easier. Just place the box on your rack, slide the clamps until they engage the crossbars, and then tighten the knobs to fit. I have been able to install the box myself (read pick it up off the ground and lift it onto the car) without any issues. The 35 lbs of weight isn't bad, it's just a little awkward with it being so long. Security hasn't been an issue for me. The single lock keeps the box locked down tight. The three latches, one at each end and one in the middle, help prevent the lift from being lifted. I've tested this with just my hands and the lid wouldn't budge. The price could seem daunting but it's really not. We've been rallying our cargo box for almost over 3 years and it still looks and functions like brand new. We will get more than enough use to make up for the cost. The Rocketbox 11 is the most economical choice of the long boxes in the Yakima line. The Good
- Extremely durable
- Easy to install
- Can fit a lot of gear
- If you have a big family or a LOT of gear to carry, get a bigger size
Bottom Line:The Rocketbox 11 is a great value and can give you that extra bit of cargo capacity you need. We've never looked back on our decision to go with the Rocketbox 11. Buy Now: Pick up a Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box today [gallery]... Read more...
As temperatures drop and winter approaches, I need a warmer boot that can handle the ever changing conditions that I like to play outside in- snow, rain, sleet, mud, the works. The Keen Delta Boot has been my go-to boot for my adventures ever since the thermometer started reading below 40. With its waterproof membrane exterior and insulated interior, the Keen Delta has been the natural choice for fall hiking for me.
Keen Delta Boot Specs
- Waterproof nubuck upper
- Thermal heat shield footbed
- TPU stability shank
- 200g KEEN.WARM insulation
- 4mm multi directional lugs
- KEEN.DRY™ waterproof breathable membrane
- Dual climate non-marking rubber outsole
- MSRP: $129.95
Keen Delta Boot ReviewFor winter hiking, Keen has hit the nail on the head with the release of the Keen Delta Boot. Insulated with 200g of Keen.Warm insulation, and protected on the exterior with Keen.Dry material, the Delta makes for a great boot. I've taken them out in the sleet, snow and rain of Southcentral Alaska and haven't been disappointed. The insulation seems to be great for temps below about fourty (warmer than that and my feet were sweating), and has kept my toes warm down into the low teens. The 4mm lug sole is, as always, super impressive in muddy or highly variable terrain. I never feel like I don't have traction with the Deltas. Another one of my favorite features is the "gaiter hook" on the boots, so I can easily attach my gaiters and tromp around in the snow. No need to wriggle the attachment under a shoelace, Keen has added the gaiter hook to truly make these a "winter friendly" boot. Though I've used my Deltas primarily as a hiking boot, I've also used them as an "around town" boot now that the weather has gotten a bit colder. They'd be great for someone looking to invest in a winter hiking boot who'd also like to double their use as snow boots for running out and shoveling the snow off the driveway before work. The insulation and waterproof membrane allows them great flexibility of use for anything in the wintertime. For a great price, you've got yourself a boot with a myriad of uses. A note about sizing- the Keen Website mentions that they are finding that the Delta runs a half size small. For me, that wasn't the case. I am a size 7 across the board, and the size 7 Deltas fit me beautifully.
- Insulation is enough to keep you warm on cold days, but not total overkill.
- As have been my other experiences with Keen boots, there's no nasty "break in" period with the Delta. Open box. Put on boots. Enjoy comfortable feet.
- Shank is stiff enough to provide good support, but doesn't feel so restricting that it becomes cumbersome.
- I don't really have anything negative to say about the Delta. Well done Keen!
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We’ve had a spectacular fall in Tahoe this year. There’s nothing better than hiking, biking, or spending the last days before winter on the Lake. After living in Tahoe for nearly 5 years I’ve learned there are a few key elements that can make or break a day hike – socks, shoes, and H2O. Below are my top picks for these key components. What gear can’t you live without this fall? 3. Smartwool Women's PhD Outdoor Light Micro When it comes to skiing or snowboarding Smartwool is my go to sock, so why not try on a pair for hiking. This sock makes your feet feel good. It’s the blend of a high performance fit and light cushioning that keeps you comfortable during those fall hikes. There’s even a padded achilles tab to offer additional protection. I would recommend the PhD outdoor Light Micro for any gal hiking no more than 5 hours. Available in 3 neutral colors MSRP: $15 Features: • 73% Merino Wool, 25%Nylon, 2% Elastic • 4-Degree Fit System for all-day performance fit • WOW™ technology in high density impact zones to reduce shock and abrasion • Merino wool inside for moisture, temperature and odor control • Duroyarn reinforcement for added comfort and durability • Strategic mesh zones for maximum ventilation 2. Merrell Women's Avian Light Ventilator Your shoes can make or break your day. For day hikes I like to grab my Avian Light Ventilor. On top of being lightweight there's mesh panels built-in for climate control which keeps feet cool and not too sweaty. Support, lightweight and climate control what more could one ask for on a day hike. Best for spring to fall hikes. Available in four fun colors. MSRP: $95 Features: UPPER/LINING • Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort • Waterproof nubuck leather, pig suede and mesh upper • Mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor • Bellows tongue keeps debris out • Ortholite® anatomical footbed MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE • Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort • Merrell QForm® Comfort midsole provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning • Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability 1. CamelBak 2011 L.U.X.E.™ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate... I don't leave home for a bike ride or hike without my Camelbak. Bigger isn't always better, look for something that can carry sunscreen, an extra layer and don't forget lunch. The Camel L.U.X.E. comes with a 3L reservoir which is nice for those longer day hikes. It's nice to pick up a extra 1L or 2L reservoir to swap out for the shorter day hikes. I love stash pockets and think they should be an essential for all gear. It's a nice feature for a multi-tool, phone, ipod or camera. Available in four colors. Don't forget about the CamelBak® Got Your Bak™ lifetime guarantee: "If we built it, we'll Bak it™" MSRP: $89 Features: • Hydration Capacity: 100 oz (3 L) • Total Capacity: 732 cu in (12 L) • Antidote™ Reservoir with Quick Link™ System • Back Panel - Air Director™ • Harness - Women's-fit Independent Suspension • Belt- Removable 1 in/25 mm stability Where are you hiking this fall?...Read more...
enigma [ɪˈnɪgmə], noun a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguousLooking for a shell jacket to protect you from all the elements? Continuing to be true to their mantra "Designed for Adventure," Outdoor Research has cranked out some incredible equipment for Fall 2011, and among that line is the Women's Enigma Jacket. The Enigma truly is an enigma- a lightweight yet durable GoreTex shell jacket at a super reasonable price. How often do you find that combo?
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The Details
- Gore-Tex PacLite main body/Gore-Tex 3L Pro Shell fabric on shoulders and arms
- Entirely seam sealed
- Helmet compatible hood
- TorsoFlo™ double-sliding side zippers open fully from hem to armpits
- Two hand pockets with water-resistant zips and two internal stash pockets
- MSRP: $320
- Check out the Enigma Details on YouTube
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The ReviewThe Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket has been a life saver thus far this fall in Alaska. With rain coming in feet, not inches, I'm always grateful to have good gear so that I can continue my outdoor pursuits, no matter the weather. From daily walks with my dog to ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier, the Enigma has kept me nice and dry. I'm looking forward to making it my primary backcountry shell when ski season gets rolling. A word about sizing- the Enigma seems to be built to accommodate layers underneath, which is a great thing. However, if you were thinking about sizing up from your normal size to have room for a few extra layers, don't. You'll be swimming in GoreTex. The Enigma is built with that extra room already in the width and the sleeves, and I have plenty of room for my R1, Patagonia Micropuff or a mid-weight down jacket, and I ordered the same size I would have had I not been planning to layer.
- The full side zips aren't as weird as you'd think they'd be. I've never had a problem with them coming undone from the bottom up as I was concerned I might. I am not sure how much more ventilation I really need than your average pit zip, but the full zip doesn't seem to take away from the design in any way, so why not? I see where it could be nice to be able to fully unzip your sides while wearing a pack, and really get some ventilation.
- Because of the zippers running all the way down the side, the drawcord for the bottom of the jacket actually only runs through the back half of the jacket. Again, seemed weird at first, but I ended up loving the ability to cinch down the bottom of the jacket without the front of the jacket looking like a rumpled mess.
- The PacLite/ProShell combo makes this jacket lightweight yet bomber.
- A great value at $320. Most other companies are charging in excess of $400 for their GoreTex shells, some even more than $450. For much less, you get a solid jacket with all the features that you need in a shell.
- The pockets are not made of GoreTex material. So, if it's pouring rain and blowing sideways, and you think you'll warm your hands up by putting them in your pockets, well, you'll wish you hadn't. Though the zippers are water resistant, and the direct interior of the pocket has a small strip of GoreTex, the rest of the pocket is mesh. If precipitation is coming in from any direction besides straight down, you'll find the inside of your jacket a bit wet if you've used the pockets. It was never a problem for quick "in and out" trips into the pockets, but the few times I went to stash my hands to avoid moisture and cold temps, the lovely Alaska fall weather (read: feet of rain and blowing wind) found its way right inside my jacket.
Bottom LineA GoreTex Proshell/PacLite hybrid that keeps you dry for a decent price.
Check It OutOutdoor Research Enigma Jacket... Read more...
For years Sierra Designs has been cranking out some amazing gear -- always built for true mountain athletes such as Eric Larsen. I remember lusting after a red Sierra Designs anorak jacket back in college, and being even more impressed after I bought it and put it to use out in the elements. It performed better than my flashier Marmot jacket. Out of everything that Sierra Designs has put out there year after year -- and I've tried a lot of it -- the Cloud 15 sleeping bag is my favorite item yet. In fact, the Cloud 15 may be the best piece of camping gear I've tried this year. In my opinion there is nothing out there like the Cloud 15, visually or functionally. First of all, at one-pound-something it is confirmed to be the lightest 15F degree sleeping bag on the market. Secondly, it is one of the coolest looking pieces of soft goods I've seen from any brand. See the images at right? In the pictures it kind of looks like a white or silver bag with blue accents --- but if you look closely, that's not white or silver. It's transparent material, so you can see the down inside. I can't wait until Sierra Designs makes their Gnar puffy jacket out of this material. I was camping with some buddies up in the Cottonwood Canyons of Utah and had my Cloud 15 lying out to fluff before bed. It made gawkers out of my friends. Like I said, it is unique in the market. And I've used everything from Mont Bell to The North Face and everything in between. The Cloud 15 is precisely 1lb 12oz, has 900-fill down with 10D nylon ripstop (an ultralight nylon material), and is EN-tested for an accurate comfort rating at 15 degrees. That means it even comes in under the weight of the Marmot Plasma ultralight sleeping bag, which is listed 2oz heavier. As you can see in the full length image, the Cloud 15 uses vertical baffles rather than horizontal to save weight. The vertical baffles employ a technology called Insotech Flow, which is a patented approach to keeping down from migrating. If I understand it correctly, it is basically one-way flaps of material in the baffles -- similar to the principle you see at work in the veins of some mammals to reduce the backward flow of blood. Simplicity is elegance, making the Cloud 15 one of the most technologically advanced bags you could find. It comes with a storage bag and a stuff sack, as you might imagine. To save weight, the stuff sack lacks compression straps but is made of the same 10D ripstop nylon. And with 900 fill down, the Cloud 15 is highly compressible to avoid bulk. The bag has some great standard design features. As you can see in the pictures, Sierra Designs has cut the bag with a bit of a jacket-style hood (meaning it fits closer to your ears and comes down in a bit more of a straight angle towards the base of your neck, instead of being a broad triangle shape that drapes from your crown to the outside of your shoulders). As you would expect, it has a drawcord for the collar and draft tubes on both the zipper and the collar. It has a 40" zipper for entry and venting, and a trim but ergonomic foot box. Of course, you can't get every last creature comfort when you cut down the weight so deeply. For example, the 40" zipper doesn't allow for venting just your foot (unless you are under four feet tall). So when I've used this on warmer nights in Southern Utah I just laid out my whole left leg comfortably. This bag also doesn't sport draft tubes at the neck (just the collar and the zipper). And it isn't stitched with heavier flex thread to allow for stretchy movement the way the way some other Sierra Design bags are. But given the extreme light weight of this bag, the few missing features aren't enough to deter me from being thoroughly impressed. Great function, great performance, and very stylistic design. This is not muted earth tones. The performance-minded will be very pleased with this bag in almost all situations except snowy winter camping or extremely hot summer nights. Watch for the Sierra Designs Cloud 15 bag to come out in Spring 2012 at a retail price of $499. SHOP: Click here to see more Sierra Designs gear....Read more...
I'm a versatile guy. I like to do a lot of different activities and I have a lot of different needs. I like packs that are versatile as well. Sure I have some dedicated use packs but for the most part I like a pack that can handle whatever I can throw at it. Enter the Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack. It's an extremely versatile, medium-sized pack that will handle just about anything you can throw in it.
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack Features
- Independently adjustable dual density shoulder straps
- X-Frame Load Dispersion Suspension System
- Compression molded back panel with contoured lumbar support
- Shoulder strap attachment loop for Mountainsmith Camera cases
- Internal hydration bladder sleeve with exit port (bladder not included)
- Pivoting dual density waistbelt for optimal load transfer
- Side Compression straps reconfigure for vertical snowboard/snowshoe carry across Front Panel
- A-Frame and diagonal ski carry
- Trekking pole mounts
- Ice axe & tool loops
- Bottom panel compression straps
- Side panel accessory pockets
- Top mount compression strap for rope or accessory carry
- Front panel expandable sleeve/shovel pocket
- Expansion collar with draw cord closure for increased carry capacity
- Volume: 2,135 cu in (38 L)
- Extended Volume: 2,440 cu in (45 L)
- Fit Range: 17-22"
- Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz
- Price: $138.95
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack ReviewThe Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack is a truly versatile pack. It is packed with enough features that you could do just about anything in it. It can handle day trips to the crag, weekend backpack trips, and it'd also do well on day long ski tours. It is laden (yes I just said laden) with enough features to do a bunch of things well. It is big enough that I was able to tuck away a small but full trad rack, a full sport rack, a couple harnesses, a couple pairs of shoes, helmet, guidebook, water, snacks, and the rope all in or on the pack. The top compression strap held the rope securely in place. It is a good sized pack for a weekend backpack trip. There is more than enough room for 3 season trips. It might do all right for an overnight four season trip, but I wasn't able to test that out yet. The main compartment is large and roomy so it's easy to get all your gear packed away. The Mayhem does feature an expandable collar so you can get an extra 300 cu. in. of room. Just about all packs can carry a bunch of stuff. For me it's the small details that set the Mayhem apart from others. Things that I love about the pack: the front expandable sleeve/shovel pocket. Great option for stashing wet gear or for holding layers without having to get into the pack. The top compression strap is ideal for carrying a rope or for securing oversized loads. The side compression straps reconfigure to carry skis or a board for winter time excursions. Mounts for carrying ice tools and trekking poles. Bottom compression straps for cinching down the load or fitting on extra gear. And there's plenty of daisy chain and other loops for lashing items on the outside. The Mayhem is highly adjustable. Mountainsmith included an adjustment guide stitched to the bottom of the lid to help you get things just right (also good for mid trail adjustments). The shoulder straps were comfortable for a few hours on the trail. I do wish the hip belt pads would have been just a little thicker and maybe and inch or two longer. The seam at the end of the pad sat just on the curve of my hip bones and became uncomfortable at the end of my second day on the trail. Also the way the harness system attaches behind the backpanel was a little bulky. This could have completely been user error, but on my last trip I had a bulge right on my shoulder blades (chances are it was user/adjustment error). With that said though, the Mayhem did a pretty good job of carrying heavier loads. The Mayhem is a good all around pack. It's not too heavy at it's base weight, it's a great size for a wide variety of activities, and it has enough features to make it versatile enough for just about anything you choose to throw at it. The Good
- Highly versatile
- Tons of features to help carry whatever you need
- Great Price
- Adjustment can take awhile
- Hip belt was a little thin and short for heavier/longer trips
- If you are concerned about your pack weight, it might be a little too heavy
Bottom Line:Looking for a versatile pack? Mountainsmith knocked it out of the park with this one. Buy Now: Pick up the Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack [gallery]... Read more...
Looking for a new activity to try to get both you and your dog some exercise? How about Joring? Joring is any sport where your dog essentially pulls you while you are moving as well. While Skijoring is certainly the most common, with the release of the Ruffwear Omnijore Joring Harness system, Ruffwear has opened the doors to all sorts of joring activities. Mountain Bike-joring, skijoring, mountain board-joring, skatejoring... Whatever you want do do, Ruffwear makes it so that your dog can come along, and pull you along the way. While joring of any sort does require some training for both you and your dog, the Ruffwear Omnijore System is a breakthrough in the general joring arena. For many years, the only way you could get a skijoring harness was to order a specifically sized harness for your dog, much like a sled-dog harness. If you wanted a harness for any other sort of joring, your options were limited to modifying a skijoring harness to meet your needs. The Omnijore is a huge leap forward in technology- Ruffwear has taken its great harness design and made it into a functioning joring harness that is adjustable, making the sport much more accessible to the general population. For now, I'm saving my harness for the winter to skijore with my black lab, Baker. While we've attempted bikejoring a couple of times, the cross country ski trails around my house are a perfect training ground for skijoring. Look for a full review after I've had a chance to use it skijoring. For now, check out the details and the Ruffwear website for more information and some great photos.
Ruffwear Omnijore Harness System Details
- System consists of 3 parts- dog harness, towline and human harness
- Dog harness is adjustable at multiple points and available in 3 sizes
- Human harness has a waterbottle holder, snack pouch and removable leg loops to keep the harness in place.
- Towline has color coded attachment ends, and an internal core of shock absorbing material keeps the bouncing to a minimum
- MSRP: $149.95
Check It OutRuffwear Omnijore Harness System... Read more...
I've run the gamut when it comes to water bottles. First it was the original Nalgene. Then it was Nalgene's hard-material, wide-mouth bottles. But then we learned that those bottles leach BPA chemicals into your water. No good. So I moved on to Sigg aluminum bottles, which made for icy sips but raised questions about the health of soaking your water in aluminum. So I've been on the prowl for a replacement. Yes, I'm active in the outdoors ---- raised as the youngest in a family of crazy brothers, I learned when I was young to love hiking and skiing and everything outdoors. And I still love slaying mountains in both summer and winter. But now I'm also a busy mom of 3 young kids. So I don't just use my water bottles for when I'm bagging peaks anymore. Frankly, they often get some of their best testing when I'm trying to keep my soccer kids hydrated and when I'm slamming out a crack-of-dawn workout in the basement before the kids are up. Want to know what I've found over the past couple of months? The CamelBak Groove is the bottle to beat, if you want to go with a plastic bottle (though Thermos and UnderArmour paired up to make a good stainless steel bottle as well, and there is a stainless version of the Groove too, if you want to go that route instead of plastic). Currently scheduled to hit retail shelves in February 2012, I think the Groove Insulated will strike a few good notes with consumers. The current non-insulated Groove (available now) is already a hit. First of all, some of the candy colors that Nalgene made popular are back. And I love my Amethyst-colored Groove Insulated bottle. But this time, the materials used in the bottles are entirely BPA-free (thank you, CamelBak!). But CamelBak has taken things a bit further... The Groove comes in both insulated and non-insulated versions (I have used the insulated version --- the purple one in the attached photos). The insulated will keep your water cooler and reduce condensation (it's basically a purple bottle built inside of a slightly larger clear bottle --- with vacuum space in between the walls). I used my insulated Groove throughout the dog days of summer in the hot Utah afternoons, and I was very impressed. I would expect this type of chill to come out of a metal canteen, but not a plastic water bottle. The Groove Insulated also features CamelBak's Big Bite sipping valve, just as the original Groove does, and CamelBak claims that tests show the valve helps you hydrate with 24% more water. It is effectively the same bite valve used on CamelBak hydration packs. But this time it's on the end of a straw that goes down to the bottom of the bottle. So here's a tip from me: Sip, don't tip. What I mean is, since the Big Bite is attached to a straw, you just bite the valve and sip it like a straw --- you don't tilt the bottle and drink like you would out of a glass or cup or canteen. The rubberized bite valve also folds down flat between sips and helps keep out dust and grime. There's also a gray plastic loop on the lid to hook to a clip on your pack for easily hauling the bottle. But the greatest part is the water filter built into the straw. It's like having a Brita pitcher in your bottle. I can just fill my bottle up with regular potable tap water, and then as I sip it through the straw it passes through the carbon filter and removes chlorine and bad taste and odor. Ingenious! So keep your eye on CamelBak ----- they are turning out some great new innovations. The latest of which is the Groove and Groove Insulated with water filters built into the straws. Pick up the Groove now, and watch for the Groove Insulated in early 2012. SHOP: Click here to browse more CamelBak gear....Read more...
The change in seasons and arrival of the "holiday season" means different things for different people. Some are excited about the possible time off work, some excited about spending time with family and friends, some excited about the change in the weather. Alternatively, if you're a gear geek like me, you know exactly what the change in season means- new toys to play with! As summer fades away and winter arrives, us gear geeks are in heaven, learning about new products, sweet redesigns or innovative ideas. Another thing us gear geeks get excited about with the change in season is the arrival of CLIF Bar Seasonal flavors! Not to be left out of the "oh-my-gosh-I-am-so-excited-about-the-new-(insert new piece of gear here)" frenzy, CLIF takes their tried and true staple, the CLIF Bar, and once a year brings holiday joy in the form of a Spiced Pumpkin Pie Bar, Iced Gingerbread Bar, and, new for this year, Peppermint Stick! Feeling festive? Grab a Spiced Pumpkin Pie bar for your next run, or savor an Iced Gingerbread bar at the top of the next snow covered peak you bag, or celebrate a newly sent route with bite of delicious Peppermint Stick goodness. You'll get the same great snack in a delicious, once a year flavor. My favorite? The Iced Gingerbread. You'll forget that you're eating a mostly organic energy bar and for a fleeting moment, wonder if your grandmother made you cookies and put them in a CLIF bar wrapper. It's that good. Be sure to give them a try while they're available. 'Tis the season for seasonal CLIF bars!
Buy NowCLIF Bar Seasonal Flavors... Read more...
At the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this summer, I had a chance to see a lot of what many companies are cooking up for the coming year. There was a lot of good stuff, but one very practical item caught my attention and recently I had the chance to test it out in the field. It was the Sierra Designs Summit Sack, which will be out in the spring of 2012. The Summit Sack is a bring-along day pack that was built by Sierra Designs for a very practical reason: the same pack you need to carry all your gear into the backcountry is probably too big to use when you summit all the out-n-back peaks tempting you just beyond base camp. You really should be using a day pack for that. But most day packs are too heavy and bulky to pack into your trekking backpack. So you almost always end up just dumping all your junk out of your trekking backpack and then using its full 75 liters just to carry water, snacks, and a first aid kit up and down every peak in sight. Either that or you just end up skipping the out-n-backs, and you hang closer to camp. The Sierra Designs Summit Sack solves that problem by being a day pack that is extremely packable...meaning that you'll rarely leave it at home...meaning that you'll also likely bag more peaks. And seeing those rarefied views are what it's all about, sometimes. The Summit Sack is a top-loading day pack that has a lightly padded back panel and shoulder straps, 1300 cu. in. of storage space, a couple of well-placed organizational pockets, and weighs in at only 12oz. It comes in plenty of candy colors, such as yellow, blue and red. Gray is also available if you're the more subtle, mysterious type. And the pack turns inside out to pack itself into one of its pockets that is only about 4 inches square. Easy to tuck away into a corner of your larger trekking pack, and you'll be glad you have it on-hand once you've set up camp and you want to start exploring. On that self-stuffing pocket it has printed out the essentials you need to bring when doing a short day excursion: hydration, illumination, emergency shelter, etc. One more thing? In a pinch, the Summit Sack can also double as a rudimentary stuff sack for your sleeping bag (but don't expect it to compress the sleeping bag like other stuff sacks might). I tested this pack out on the famous Joint Trail in Utah's Canyonlands after having backpacked in and set up camp in Chesler Park, and the Summit Sack delivered just fine. Plenty of space for all the essentials, and the sternum strap and waist belt held everything in place. I gave it a scar or two, squeezing through some extremely tight slot canyons. But all in all, it held up very well. If you're looking for a day pack for aggressive ski touring or car-to-car pushes, this pack probably lacks the beef and structure you're looking for. But if you're looking for a day pack to stuff into a larger pack and use for exploring beyond camp, the Sierra Designs Summit Sack is just the right thing. I intend to give mine a few more scars, and see a few more peak-top views, before it hits shelves for the general public in the spring. SHOP: Click here to see more gear from Sierra Designs....Read more...
The Kelty Vista 2 tent for Spring 2012 is a 3-season, 2-man tent that does something pretty amazing for a tent -- it actually accommodates two men. Two full-grown, normal-sized men. Comfortably. If you haven't used many tents, you may not think this is very impressive. But those of us who have tried many different styles of 2-man tents will confess that a 2-man tent can work when you're sleeping perhaps. But once you're sitting up side by side, the inward-sloping walls of a normal 2-man tent usually mean that you both end up bumping shoulders and craning your heads sideways. Not so with the Kelty Vista 2 tent. How? At first glance, the Vista 2 appears to be a double-walled tent with a normal X-style pole design. That is, two poles that go corner to corner diagonally and crossing at the apex of the tent. But the tent designers at Kelty realized that this makes the walls unnecessarily sloped. With the degree of slope on normal X-style pole design tents, you lose a lot of headroom. So while a simple X-style tent pole design might have the square footage to sleep two adults comfortably, it wouldn't have the headroom to seat two adults comfortably side by side. So the Kelty tent designers added two horizontal short poles running perpendicular to the doors of the tent (called brow poles), lying on top of the two X poles, and fitted with ball-and-joint connections to stretch out the side walls' fabric, providing much more headroom. Notice the flat, mansard-style roof profile in the picture. That's thanks to the two parallel brow poles across the top, that stretch the ceiling and increase the slope of the door-side walls. Under the vestibules of the rain fly, the walls are practically vertical. Believe me ---- I didn't just test this tent with my pack lying next to me in the tent. Or even with just my son or wife as my backpacking partner. It says it's a two man tent, so I figured it ought to be tested with two men. I took it camping in the backcountry of Canyonlands with a friend who certainly doesn't have narrow shoulders. And we both couldn't stop commenting about how easily it fit both of us, versus other tents we had tried. We hardly bumped into each other at night, or even when packing things up in the morning sitting side-by-side upright in the tent. Usually packing up your sleeping bag requires you to each take turns in the tent. But this time, we could just sit side-by-side and get our bags into their stuff sacks and deflate and roll our sleeping pads without too much bumping. It was quite a bit different from many other tents we had tried. The tent weighs in at 6lbs 1oz in the 2-person Vista with a price tag of $269 when it hits stores in the Spring of 2012. The 3-person version adds a little over a pound more, and the price goes up to $329. At 6lbs, it isn't in the ultra light category of course. But it isn't unreasonable. I should also note that even though this weighs a pound or so more than other 2 man tents, when splitting up the tent and the poles between my backpacking partner and me, it was extremely easy to pack for several miles over rough terrain. Its weight is in part due to the nylon (instead of mesh) that it uses extensively on the inner walls, which also reduces quite a bit of the star visibility on dry nights. But there are large mesh panels on both side doors, and two mesh windows on the front/back of the tent. This allows great ventilation, and you can velcro the mesh windows shut. Between the close-able windows and doors, and the nylon fabric instead of mesh, it helps keep out blowing sand in a desert environment that would surely make itself into a more mesh-covered tent. Poles all come from DAC, the exceptional pole innovator out of Korea, and the tent comes with a great rain fly with a zippered vestibule for each side door, a large gear loft, and is free-standing (though you'll want to stake out the fly if it's raining or if you want the vestibules to cover your packs on the ground outside each door). All in all, the brow poles on this tent are what make it a real unique offering in the tent category and a winner in my book. While I prefer more mesh for stargazing and lighter overall weight, I understand the trade-off of risking sand being blown through the mesh and into the tent. For those who camp in windy, dusty locales you will very much appreciate the close-able windows and nylon walls of the Kelty Vista tent. And mesh or no mesh, the headroom and vertical side walls provided by the unique brow poles will have you enjoying the space of the tent more than other tents. Keep your eyes open for the Kelty Vista tents (2-man and 3-man) to be hitting shelves in Spring 2012. In the meantime, click here to shop for more Kelty gear....Read more...
This coming fall, Ruff Wear will be releasing a newly redesigned version of their Beacon Safety Light, a small LED light that clips to your dog's collar. The Beacon is a daily staple for wintertime in Alaska, since the sun doesn't come out til after 10am and is gone by 3pm and we live in a town with zero street lights. To let my dog out in the mornings and the evenings, I had been putting a headlamp around his neck so that I could be sure to find him amidst the snowbanks and trees. Then, along came the Ruff Wear Beacon Safety Light. When I first found Ruff Wear's Beacon Safety Light I was thrilled- a flashing LED light with multiple flash settings (if you've got 3 dogs, there are 3 different flash settings. Bubba can be solid red, Fido flashing red, and the third a strobe setting. You'll know exactly who is where without actually seeing the hound). Baker, my black lab, never went outside without it on in the early morning and late night hours. However, I ran through several original Beacon lights due to the high-profile nature of the light. The top covering got stuck on branches, in trees or in other dogs mouths, and popped right off. For Fall 2011, Ruff Wear has redesigned the Beacon and has addressed this issue! The newer Beacon is a much lower-profile light, but still features the multiple strobe settings and easy-on clip. The newly redesigned Beacon also features an easy-to-push "on" button and brighter LED lights. The newly redesigned Beacon Safety Light will be available September 30th, 2011, with an MSRP of $16.95. Be sure to check it out at Ruffwear.com or through any of our retailers. ...Read more...
There exists a large amount modified trail running shoes and light hikers on the market. But the Keen Erickson PCT is none of those. It is a proud high top hiking boot for heavier loads, longer treks, and rougher trails. But having put this boot through the paces on a handful of trails in the Wasatch, I can happily say that it will end up replacing at least 3 or 4 lighter-weight shoes and boots I have sitting in my closet. Yes, the Erickson PCT is that versatile. But it doesn't get that way by wimping out. It gets that way by taking a very unique and comfortable fit, and placing it on the sort of sturdy trekking platform that reduces foot fatigue under most sizes of loads. It also has a deep V cutout for the Achilles tendon, making it surprisingly good at scrambling, steep slopes and quick paces. On top of that, it does so within an upper that is almost entirely full grain leather -- not much canvas or Cordura-style material in the upper. Not only is that simply a much cooler look than mixed material, coupled with Keen Dry waterproof membrane it gives a lot more confidence in the weather-proof nature of the boot. Having hiked the Erickson PCT boot over several trails here in the Wasatch already, in heat and dust as well as surprise rain showers and muddy streams, I can say that it holds up its end of the burliness equation. It's built with metal lace loops, the upper three of which are hook style. The toe is of course the distinctive Keen rubber toe bumper, which is awesome -- I love it. I must admit that in other Keen shoes I have felt the toe bumper to be too much, and the feel of the fit to be too short and wide. So I usually have to size up a half size, as I do with skate shoes like Vans and Emerica, but then sometimes it becomes a bit wide for my average feet. Not with the Erickson PCT. I ordered right on a 9.5 instead of the size 10 I thought I would need, and the 9.5 is a perfect fit -- even with a pretty thick Teko hiking sock. The boot also has an aggressive rubber outsole, and what they call a TPU stability shank. What this does is reduce the flex of the sole very significantly, which is absolutely the right thing for a hiking boot intended for heavy loads and long treks. The inflexibility of the sole reduces foot fatigue from bumps and rocks in the trail, which I can attest to from experience. I've taken them on steep trail-less scrambles and up the gut of washed out rocky ravines and screes, and I never suffered from the foot fatigue that is an inevitability with lighter-duty hiking shoes. At the same time, I have also worn these boots to the office with jeans and never wanted to take them off. That's why I find them so unique, and why I say that they will replace 3 or 4 other shoes in my closet. They have the lightweight feel of a light hiker, but the sturdy sole flex holds up to nasty trails and ankle-twisting rocks without transmitting the shocks to your foot to cause fatigue. The Erickson PCT boot has that rare balance of both sturdiness and wearability. Many others that try to strike that note end up feeling wimpy or clunky. The Ericksons are neither. And in the all-black color, they look great as well. The more I punished these boots, the more I realized that I only had one major complaint: I wish that they were lined on the inside and along the tongue with calfskin instead of fabric material. That would make sliding them on and off easier, without making your socks bunch. And it would feel nicer to have calfskin around the ankle instead of grippy fabric. That of course might push the price up above $170, but it would make the boot close to flawless in my opinion --- and I've owned everything from Merrell to Asolo and everything in between. In the end, the Keen Erickson PCT Mens boot is a very solid mid-to-heavy hiking boot. But I've found that doesn't mean it can't easily kick around town and on lighter hikes, too. If you're in the market for a good solid hiker, or even for a lighter hiker, and you want versatility and burl, I recommend taking a long look at the Keen Erickson PCT. SHOP: Search for more Keen gear....Read more...
I normally enjoy cooking, and spending lots of time procuring gourmet meals at my home in Alaska. But when I'm on extended trips, my food priorities change. I want food fast, and with minimal cleanup. I could care less what it tastes like, so long as it's got some calories in it. Now, I understand that there is a sect of people out there who enjoy their gourmet meals while in the backcountry (like those of you who have perfected how to bake muffins on a single burner stove. You know who you are...), but that's not my thing. If someone else wants to cook Eggs Benedict for me, by all means, do it up. However, when I'm in charge of the mess hall (or mess picnic table, or mess-rock-near-the-river, as the case may be), I want a product that gets the job done fast and doesn't require a lot of time to clean or space to store in my pack/panniers/drybag. For part of my summer adventures, I used the Jetboil Group Cooking System for my cooking needs.
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The Specs
- Group Cooking System includes pot, stove, the pot support device and a stabilizer tripod (all of which store inside the pot)
- Equipped with Jetboil's Flux Ring technology
- Comes with insulating lid and bottom cover (which can double as plates)
- Weight: 20 oz
- MSRP: $119.95
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The ReviewOverall, the CGS is an efficient system for backcountry travel. It boils water quickly (when I say quickly, we're talking sub-4 minutes). The stove has the capability to integrate with other pans, such as the Jetboil Frying Pan. All parts fit inside the 1.5 L pot. The GCS is best suited for those looking to really save weight and look at cooking with a minimalist approach. The GCS is great for boiling water quickly. However, I also own a Jetboil Flash PCS, and I found myself leaning more towards my Jetboil Flash in many situations. The times when I found the Jetboil system most valuable was when I wanted boiling water. The Flash boils water even quicker than the GCS, and the handle and pour spout made it very easy to pour that water into my french press, Mountain House meal, etc. However, it's tough to cook anything besides soups and dehydrated meals in the Flash. Pasta, mac and cheese and Rice A Roni were also easy in the GCS, after learning how to finesse the fuel dial and not burn dinner.
- The boil time is unbeatable. Before you can find the pasta to toss in the pot, it's up to a rolling boil.
- The Pot Stabilizer, a small metal attachment that sits on the stove portion, makes it very easy to convert from using the pot to the frying pan.
- Single push igniter makes for easy starting. After a summer's worth of use, the igniter is still in great shape, which is more than most people can say about their backyard barbeque grills. Also, my 3 year old Jetboil Flash also starts up no problem. Though the rain would occasionally dampen things a bit, 2 or 3 clicks of the button later, even the Flash was up and going.
- Pouring boiling water out of the pot proves to be a challenge. The Jetboil Flash has a lid that has a small hole in it, functioning as a pour spout. The GCS would be far more versatile if the lid had that same hole.
- Similar cooking setups from other companies come with a dinnerware set of sorts. For example, for around the same price, you can get a MSR Dragonfly Stove, which fits inside an MSR Bugaboo Cookset, which comes with pot, pan, 2 cups, 2 bowls and a lid that functions as a plate. Granted, that system certainly won't boil your water in 4 minutes. But it would be nice to see Jetboil start selling the GCS with a few cups/bowls/utensils, all of which integrated inside the 1.5L pot.
- The handle on both the 1.5L pot and Frying Pan were not the most stable things I've seen. I never had an problems with them "falling off" per say, but they would wobble and move around enough to where I was nervous if I had to pick up a pot full of boiling anything and move it anywhere.
Bottom LineA lightweight, fuel efficient stove best suited for backpacking trips with one to two people.
Check It OutJetboil Group Cooking System and Jetboil Flux Ring Frying Pan... Read more...
The Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp packs a lot of light in a little package. Princeton Tec gave me the opportunity to test the Byte this summer and it has been one of the best lightweight headlamps I've used so far.
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp Features
- Lamp: Maxbright LED & Red Ultrabright LED
- Power: 35 lumens
- Burn Time: 96 hours (low)
- Batteries: 2 AAA (included)
- Battery Location: Front
- Headband Type: Elastic Strap
- Weight: 2.5 oz
- Price: $19.95
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp ReviewEach year headlamps seem to get smaller and more powerful. The Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp is no exception. It truly is a powerful light in such a small package. The Maxbright LED gives a lot of light. The specs put it at 30m on high, 15m on low, and 4m on red. It gives enough light for on the trail and around camp use. I found it to be great for hiking, it would be good for climbing, but it was a little hard with running. Battery life is pretty short on high and low didn't quite give as much light as I like when running. Battery life pretty good. On low the tech spec says 96 hours which is decent for 2 AAAs. On high it only says 2 hours which is problematic if you're out on a trip. I found for most everything low was sufficient for my needs. The Byte comes with a red ultrabright LED. The selling point behind this is that the red light preserves your night vision better than the white light. This is good for small tasks close at hand but even so I found it hard to see by the red light, even for the tasks while in the tent. The part about preserving night vision seems to be true. It was nice not to be blinded when turning it on. The weight is awesome. At 2.5 ounces it's hard to complain. It's easy on the head and easy on the pack. The elastic band is comfortable and didn't give any irritation or discomfort after long periods of wear. One of my favorite features, while small, is the battery door. It's easy to access, easy to open. I've had a number of headlamps where changing out the batteries was a bit of pain, that isn't the case with the Byte. The Good
- Battery life on high is very short
Bottom Line:Looking for a lightweight headlamp that's bright and won't break the bank? You'll get that with the Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp. Buy Now: Pick up the Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp[gallery]... Read more...
Spring and Fall are some of my favorite seasons for one specific reason- new gear! The shoulder seasons always signal a plethora of new equipment coming out from my favorite companies, and Keen is no exception. This Fall, I'll be testing out a pair of Keen Women's Delta Boots.
- Waterproof, insulated hiking boot
- 4mm lug soles with dual climate rubber
- MSRP: $130
First ImpressionsThe Delta looks like a solid boot! Specifically, the multidirectional lug sole looks burly. Might be enough to tackle the mud season up here in Alaska, which is in full force right now. Looks like it will make a great mid-range boot. You know those hikes you go on where you want something more than a trail runner, but definitely don't need to bust out your steel shank ice climbing/mountaineering boots? The Delta seems to bridge that gap in my shoe collection (Gasp. Yes. There is a gap in my shoe collection). I'm stoked to take the Delta out in the ever-cooling temps up here in Alaska, and see how it holds up in the mud and rain!
Check it OutKeen Women's Delta Hiking Boot... Read more...
On May 22, 2011, a massive tornado struck the town of Joplin, Missouri causing dozens of deaths and untold millions in damage. Many would call it a crippling event, if it weren't for the moving resilience of the people there who have begun re-building and even started the school year on time. To aid with the relief, recently Sierra Designs joined with Terramar to provide more than 750 jackets to families affected by the tornados in Joplin and in Tuscaloosa, AL earlier this year. The project is called the "Community Rebuilding...From the Inside Out" project. The project included a huge tractor trailer with goods from brands such as Sierra Designs, Clif Bar, Chacos, Outdoor Research and Merrell. From the press release:
“There are a lot of people still suffering in the aftermath of these tornados, so when Terramar asked us to join this project, we were in a position to help and we jumped on board,” said Sue Timbo, marketing director with Sierra Designs. “The combination of a worthy cause and a trusted partner made is easy for us to help out. Hats off to Terramar for spearheading this project.”Kudos to Sierra Designs and the others who are participating in this project, and good luck to the folks recovering from these tragic circumstances. ... Read more...
A surfing backpack, a lightweight dry bag that doubles as a backpack on summit bid morning, or just a daypack on the rainy days, the Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack is a versatile, well constructed dry bag with all the bells and whistles added on. My favorite type of gear is that which is simple, durable, durable and even more durable. The beauty of the Drycomp is in it's simplicity. It's a dry bag that is also a backpack. Add a sweet mesh storage compartment, the ability to strap on an ice axe, and that's the final product. Sometimes it's nice not to have six bazillion features- less to break out in the field. The crew at Outdoor Research has hit another home run with the Drycomp Ridge Sack (I don't actually watch baseball. But what's the equivalent in outdoorsy lingo? The crew at OR has sent another 5.13? Shredded another gnarly descent of backpack design? Somehow, the baseball analogy sounds better). Sometimes less is more, and that's definitely true of the Drycomp Ridge Sack. Just the right amount of features to make a great product, but not so many that you're wondering if you should wear the pack on your back, or ask it to cook you breakfast.
Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack Details
- 34 L drysack/backpack combo
- External Mesh pocket and elastic cord allow for extra layers/gear/h2o storage, ice axe loops allow you to toss your favorite piolet on as well
- Roll top/buckle closure
- $125 MSRP
Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack ReviewUsually, when you purchase a dry bag of any sorts, you're looking to keep water out of the things you put inside it. In my case, I was looking for a way to keep water inside the bag, and not anywhere else. I needed a bag to use for wetsuit transport on my bike/surf trip this past summer. Something that I could toss wet wetsuits in, and then hike back out from the beach without the wetsuits dripping through my pack and soaking my bum as I hiked out. A reverse dry bag, if you will. Instead of keeping things out, I wanted to keep them in. However backwards my approach to dry bag use may seem, the principal behind it is the same, and I can report that the Drycomp Ridge Sack did in fact keep the water (and the rather unsavory smell of damp wetsuit booties) inside the bag, just as I had hoped. With bomber radio-welded seams, I had no leaks in 6 weeks of wetsuit storage. I kept the bag on the back rack of my bicycle, bungee corded down until it was time to head down to the beach. Then, I'd undo the cords, and in an instant, I had myself a great backpack, with the wetsuits already packed. The mesh pocket on the outside allowed for a towel, snacks or a few tasty beverages to be stowed with ease.
- Keeps water in or out, depending on what your goal is
- Carries comfortably for short adventures
- Constructed of a lightweight and pliable material. Don't think of your typical hypalon drybag. Much lighter. And still as waterproof.
- Durable durable durable!
- Elastic cording on mesh pocket stretches out fast
Bottom LineSometimes less is more. Meet all your dry bag/backpack needs with the Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack.
Buy NowOutdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack... Read more...
What's barefoot without actually being barefoot? The New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Running Shoes. The right nomenclature is "minimalist" and the Minimus is New Balance's answer to the growing minimalist running movement. New Balance gave me the opportunity this summer to test a pair of the Minimus MT10 shoes.
New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Running Shoes Features
- Deconstructed ACTEVA midsole provides great flexibility and a featherweight cushion
- Minimal Vibram outsole for lightweight traction and durability
- Synthetic/Mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
- Odor Resistant
- 4 mm drop (9 mm heel/5 mm forefoot)
- D width
- Price: $99.95
New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Running Shoes ReviewOverall, the New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Running Shoes impressed me. It's a fairly lightweight shoe that is well constructed, fits nicely, performs well, and looks good (come on admit it, you want your running shoes to look good). Performance: The Minimus MT10 is a good performing shoe. The most notable feature I thought, was the 4mm drop. For those who are unfamiliar with drop, it is the height different between the forefoot and heel (in this case the forefoot is 5mm thick and the heel is 9mm thick). The reason this was so pronounced for me is I've running in a zero drop shoe for the entire year so far. If you are coming from a typical shoe you might not notice this as much. There are a few benefits of a 4mm drop shoe over a zero drop. First, if you are making the transition from regular shoes to minimalist, this will help. It's not as dramatic as going to zero and the transition will be a little less dramatic (and painful, depending on if you push it too much in the beginning). Second, I found the 4mm drop effective in having an almost flat foot strike. With a zero drop there was a more pronounced forefoot strike to heel movement. With the 4mm I almost always have a near flat strike. This can be more comfortable. Some proponents will argue that a zero drop shoe is more 'pure' but I think you need to try both. One feature that New Balance included that I really like is the wide rubber strap that spans the toe box. This helps provide stability and structure to all the mesh in the shoe. With a lot of mesh shoes I've experienced a lot of side to side play which isn't good on the trails and can lead to instability and blisters. The toe strap, as I've come to call it, helps keep your foot stable and minimizes the side to side sliding. Lastly the soles. I have both positive and negative comments about the soles. Starting with the positive, the Miminal Vibram outsole is fairly sticky and provides good traction on rocks/hard surfaces. It is a little softer which helps with the traction and is nice if you have to run on paved surfaces. Now for the negative: if you run on very rocky or gravelly trails, you can feel even the smallest rocks. The dot pattern is nice, however, the gaps between the dots are soft and if you happen to land on a rock or other hard/pointy surface you definitely feel it. Most of the trails I am running on are either rocky (think big rocks) or gravelly. After a few miles the bottoms of my feet get very sore. This is an issue with a lot of minimalist shoes, however, I noticed it more with the Minimus MT10. Now, if you spend most of your time running buff trails, you have no worries. If you split your time between roads and trails, it's less of a worry. It would be nice to have something a little more stiff to help minimize the soreness. One of the photos to the right gives a close up of the soles. You can see the tread wear along with the gaps in the dot pattern. Fit: I have what I'd call a typical sized foot. I wear an 11 in trail running shoes as it gives me a little bit of room and the Minimus MT10 fit true to size. Width wise, the fit is also good. It is narrow enough that you can dial in the fit with the lacing without having to cinch it all the way down, yet wide enough that your foot won't feel scrunched. Construction: after 40 years of so of making shoes, you'd expect just that. Out of the box the stitching, glue, materials all looked good on basic inspection. After a couple months of testing construction has held up and I haven't noticed any loose threads or flaps. Two of the photos on the right show the shoes after a couple months of use. My final, very minor comment is this: The Minimus MT10 comes in an awesome orange color which is always worth extra points in my book. The Good
- Well made, high performing shoe
- Toe strap minimizes side-to-side play
- 4mm helps ease into minimalist running & provides a more flat footed strike
- Sole is soft & gaps in sole provide a lot of soreness when running rocky/gravelling trails
- 4mm drop (depends on your stance) if you want a more 'pure' minimalist experience
Bottom Line:The New Balance Minimus MT10 is a great shoe for both new entrants into the minimalist running scene and veterans. It performs well, is built to last, and is a great shoe to run in. Just be weary of rocky trails. Buy Now: Pick up some New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Running Shoes[gallery]... Read more...
Eugene Buchanan (no relation) explains it best in Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids about how to overcome the anxiety of taking the little ones outside. It's scary. It's cold. What if they throw up? What if we run out of diapers? What if we lose their binky? What if we have the most amazing time ever?Black Diamond Icon? The Kids Bot by Princeton is simple, kid-like, and inexpensive: $15. I would have said cheap, but that would imply it's cheaply made, which isn't the case. The Bot takes 2 AAA batteries and provides up to 9 hours on low and 4 hours on high beam. The only setback with the battery case is having to use a screwdriver to get into the batteries. But who doesn't carry around a pocket knife? It isn't the strongest beam I've ever experience but I doubt your 5 yr. old is going to truck up Mt. Rainier anytime soon.
About the Princeton Tec Kids Bot LampThe headlamp is easy to use. Duh, it's for kids. The design is super snazzy and kids love it. And at such a good price you can buy a couple so everyone can have their own. The lamp only has high and low beam, no strobe. I wish they would have thrown on a strobe because kids love bright flashy disco dancing type stuff. At 2.2 oz with batteries this would be a great addition to the kids pack to help them feel like hiking champions. It also resists water so they can have fun and not get yapped at every 10 seconds. I love using this headlamp for my own kids because they genuinely like playing with it. BUY NOW:The Princeton Tec Kids Bot Headlamp at Gear.com. [gallery]... Read more...
Get your sticks out because there are more jackets on the market then you can shake said stick at. Man there is a lot of jackets out there. "How many jackets Adam?" Well there are so many jackets, pants are starting to have affairs!Ok lame joke is out of the way, let's get into the Stoic Vaporshell Rain Shell.
Stoic Vaporshell JacketPlainly: It's all the jacket you need for $130. The Stoic factory is made up of people who have been annoyed with inconsistent sizes. These guys know about lame bells and whistles. When you wear the Vaporshell you can tell quickly this jacket was built not only by smart designers but advocates for the outdoor warrior. The design is in ready position. The arms are in a bear hug position and the abdomen area doesn't puff out when sitting. Remember that tank top Helen Hunt wore in the movie Twister? This jacket basically fits the same, except less dirt and tornados. When I used this backpacking I didn't feel like I was having to fight the pack and jacket. The slim athletic fit was easy to work with and highly waterproof.
What The Shell?Ok so how does this shell differ from other shells? The price for the weight. You're packing 14oz. for $130. The next step up is the Arcteryx SL models which are 11 oz. and $250. So how crazy do you want to get? You know me, weight doesn't mean anything, to a point. I just don't lose sleep over 5 oz. here or 3 oz. there. It's all about the Benjamins in my opinion. The material used also seems to have the Arcteryx Alpha LT feel to it. That rough and tough do-it-all don't pass go make me a turkey sandwich take two call me in the morning material. Once again, without the $350 price tag and bulky fit, the Stoic Vaporshell is a strong contender in the saturated rain jacket carnival.
SummaryThe Stoic Vaporshell packs well and has a great hood. I do which it had hand pockets. Once again, I'm not a weight junky and it's nice to jam my hands in my rain jacket. Even if they didn't put zippers in the pockets. Zippers are lame anyway, they cut up your hands and junk. Why don't they do an embedded magnet hand pocket? When that idea makes a million bucks you know who posted it first on the interwebs - Mr. Adam Buchanan from Gear.com. BUY NOW:The Stoic Vaporshell Rain Jacket on Gear.com.
Fun FactThe models for Stoic gear on their website actually design the jackets. Betcha didn't know that! [gallery] ... Read more...
The Trekr washcloth and Scrubr dishcloth are made of a coarse Nylon and Nylon Poly material respectively that cleans, dries quickly, is low maintenance and super durable. These cloths are also odor resistant and compact. Although they are said to be perfect for use in the outdoors and at home, I have to say I’ll reserve use for camping and hiking trips, but I won’t be using them at home. Sure, it’s great to have a more coarse washcloth that will remove a few layers of grit and grime after a day of camping, hiking, or mountain biking, but I find the Trekr to be too abrasive for every day use, when I’m not covered in dirt. The same goes for my dishes. I think I’ll stick with dish soap and a gentler dish sponge when I’m at home. But, when looking for a fast-drying scrubbing cloth that compacts easily for camping or traveling light, the Scrubr really does the trick to get things clean. And that's always a welcome change to the typical way camping dinnerware ends up -- that is, your pasta never quite washes out so when you cook up some dessert it has that taste of dinner mixed in. Not ideal. The Scrubr is coarse and scrubs dishes especially well without much risk of scratching finishes. Weighing in at only 9 grams for the washcloth and 7.5 grams for the dishcloth, and taking up as much space as a piece of facial tissue, they certainly are incredibly easy to stash. The bottom line: -Dries in only a few minutes -No funky smell after several days of use -Ultra compact -Super lightweight -They really do scrub! The dirt and grime from your camp stove, dutch oven, body and face will be scrubbed away. While the Scrubr is a no-brainer to take camping, I think the Trekr makes me pause a bit more. I used it several times and for my taste, it was just a bit too abrasive for scrubbing my face. While camping, you do miss the exfoliation that you get from your nightly routine at home. But this was just a bit too much for me. As a body washcloth, it is a good fast-drying option for when you're especially dirty. But you can't really scrub your face without risking some redness. I'm not saying it doesn't work...just remember to use a soft touch when you get to your face. Regardless of my sensitive skin, if you’re going to be outdoors for any extended period of time the Trekr and Scrubr will both make a nice addition to your pack. SHOP: Search for more camping gear. ...Read more...
When you spend 6 weeks with anything, using it daily, be it a bike, a backpack, or a boyfriend, you really get to know it. I mean really get to know it. After spending 6 weeks living in the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 tent, I almost feel like I have a relationship with the tent. The Skyledge kept me dry and comfortable all the way from Seattle to Eureka, CA on my bike trip, and then from Seattle all the way back to AK. As I go back to work in August, it will be a sad day when I have to pack the Skyledge away, knowing that the summer’s adventures are wrapping up. But, enough with my sappy relationship with my tent. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of things, so you can understand why I have this new-found love for my tent.
Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent Details
- 3 season superlight backpacking tent
- 2 doors
- 2 vestibules
- 3 pole assembly
- 38 square foot interior
- MSRP $425
Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent ReviewFirst, lets talk about the size, specifically this 3 person idea. My boyfriend (who is 6’1) and I lived out of this tent with all our gear for 6 weeks. If you asked us to fit another person in there, I would have killed you even for asking. For extended trips, especially in locations where you need lots of gear due to the weather (read: the rainy Pacific Northwest Coast), this is NOT a 3 person tent. Could you do it for an overnight backpacking trip? Absolutely. Could you do it if you had no extra equipment, wet clothing or other things that needed to be in the tent? Sure. Do I recommend you and your 2 6’ tall buddies take this for a 6 month excursion? No. For us, it was the perfect size. Just enough room for 1 larger Thermarest and one Women’s ProLite Plus Thermarest, sleeping bags, and then some extra space on either side for clothes, maps, books, whatever we needed access to while we were in the tent. On our drive back to Alaska, the tent was perfect sized for the two of us and our 65lb black lab, who could curl up at our feet as we slept. So, bottom line about size- perfect for 2 people for longer trips with more gear, or 3 people with minimal equipment, minimal height and minimal trip time. Looking for a smaller version? Check out the Skyledge 2.1. Same features with less overall space, intended for 2 people. Now, on to the functionality of the tent. The Skyledge is, hands down, the quickest assembling tent I’ve ever worked with. I love the clip system. With no help, I could have the footprint laid out, tent up and clipped, and fly draped over it within 5 minutes. With a second person, setup was a sub 90-second endeavor. With two large poles and one shorter pole cross pole, you have plenty of room inside the tent, plus added stability from the additional shorter pole. The rain fly functioned excellently throughout the entire trip. The best squalls that the Pacific Northwest could brew up were nothing for the Skyledge Rainfly. Never once was the inside of our tent wet on the entire trip, and when staked out appropriately, the fly allowed for exceptional ventilation. The only time we ran into any troubles was when we didn’t have the opportunity to put the fly away dry- sometimes the weather just doesn’t allow that. Even with days like that, if we took the fly out to air while we were having lunch, it would dry completely within 10 minutes and was good to go for the next downpour. The rain fly also provides 2 full sized vestibules, another crucial feature for my specific trip. We needed a place to store and access wet gear from the road, and to keep it from getting more wet into the night as the rain continued to pound. The vestibules provided ample space for 2 size large panniers plus shoes, and other miscellaneous items. The option to sleep without the vestibule on nice nights is also great. Since the Skyledge is mainly mesh, you have a beautiful view of the stars! A word about the craftsmanship of the tent. Like I said, I used it every day for 6 weeks. I had brought along a mini-tent repair kit, anticipating some sort of problem with poles, tears in the mesh, stuck zippers, anything. I can happily report that I had no such issues. The Skyledge is solid, no matter what you do to it.
- Quick, easy setup
- 2 vestibules creates additional dry storage space
- Dry! Even in the wettest of climates
- Superlight- the Skyledge comes in at 4 lbs 7 oz when packed, an impressively light weight for a complete dry shelter for 2 people plus all their gear. This is an 11 oz downgrade (upgrade? whatever you want to call it, it's 11 ounces less) than older versions due to new material. I know 11 oz doesn't seem like a lot, but the little things add up fast, and as I was in my granny gear cranking up 1,000 ft+ hills, I would have given my left arm for every piece of gear I had brought with me to weigh 11ozs less.
- The gutters on the rainfly vestibule zippers are a pain. They get caught up in the zipper when you zip the fly closed from the inside or the outside with decent regularity.
- The top cross pole is a bit difficult to insert due to the tension between the two points. However, this tension and pole provides additional interior space, making the Skyledge very roomy inside. It also gives the tent greater integrity than your standard 2 pole design. Worth the occasional frustration.
Bottom LineThis. Tent. Is. Awesome. Lightweight, super easy setup, and it withstands the worst of storms that I’d ever want to be outside in.
Buy NowMountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent... Read more...
Sugoi Firewall LT Glove ReviewThe Sugoi Firewall LT Gloves are a running/aerobic glove meant for cool weather. The outer is wind resistant and slightly water resistant. While it's made for running, the wind resistance made for warm hands while bike commuting. The inners are a nice brushed fleece which is comfortable. Reflective accents on the index finger and pinky side of the back of the glove help give a little additional visibility in low-light conditions. The thumb features the a "super absorbing" nose wipe which is easy on the cold nose. A velcro closure helps keep the glove on. The drawbacks on this glove for me are sizing and the inter-finger fabric. First and not really important, the fabric used to wrap in between the fingers is sparkly and makes me feel a little bit like Michael Jackson (no bueno). On a more serious note, the sizing seems a little small. I do have big hands with long fingers so take this with a little bit of a grain of salt. The overall length is a little short but not too bad. The fingers aren't cut deep enough. In between the fingers ends up about 1/2-3/4 of an inch short. The width of the glove was a little tight...it's on the verge of being too tight. Overall, this glove provided good hand protection and warmth on cold weather runs. Just be sure to check the fit and keep in mind they run a little small.
Sugoi Firewall GT Glove ReviewThe Sugoi Firewall GT Gloves is the cold weather version of the Firewall LT. The GT has many of the same features as the LT: reflective accents, nose wipe, velcro closure, soft fleece inner, wind resistance. The difference come with more insulation (slightly more), padding in the palm, a nice pull tab, and leather palms. This glove is truly at home at the bike and on the run. The padded palms help with comfort on the bike, sticky logos on the palm help give additional grip for the bike. Fit is a little better than the LT. The width is a little wider but is still a touch on the tight side. The fingers still aren't long enough, about 1/2 in too shallow for me. I did use the gloves in 20 degree temps on the bike and my hands were plenty warm. Aside from the fit, these gloves performed very well and I'll be using them again next winter.
Bottom Line:I think both of these gloves are on their way out or are being updated so now's a good time to pick some up. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Firewall LT GLoves Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Firewall GT GLoves[gallery]... Read more...
This gear review goes out to all my minimalist hipsters. You know who you are. You cringe at the thought of a strap too long. Carrying duct tape doesn't make sense because you can construct a substitute from mud, leaves, and saliva. People often mistake your 13 day backpack for a daypack filled with an afternoon picnic. You don't carry a tent because you think you are waterproof. Chill out and get with the times. If you can't handle carrying the Sierra Designs Vapor Light tent, then maybe it's time we have a little talk out back.
It weighs how much?3 pounds 5 ounces. And when this thing packs down, it looks like a large rain jacket/pant cocktail in a compression sack. What does that weight get you in the backcountry? 32 sq feet of home sweet home and 38 inches of ceiling space for that battery fan you've always wanted to bring. Upgrading the to Vapor XL would be wise. When I first set up the Vapor Light my first thought was, "Dang that is small." But hey, it beats a bivy sack. Oh and don't even get me started on bivy sacks. Claustrophobic much?
Using the Sierra Designs Vapor Light TentI took this tent on a 5 day backpacking trip a couple weeks ago. We got rained on here and there but the last night was the hurricane. The thing I thought stood out about the Vapor Light was how well the fly performed when staked out. It rained from probably 9pm to 4am and this thing was a champ. Sometimes with these small tents you feel like you're bringing a knife to a gun fight but this design is not the case. The pole design is slick to. It helps to have more head room near the door and keeps water away from the tent. It's tight. Really tight. I'm just glad the design excels to hopefully get some of these tree hugger minimalist hipsters into a tent this year.
Final ThoughtsI don't care if a company comes out with the lightest tent ever. If it can't handle the rain it fails. Comfort is also a high consideration in my opinion. If I'm backpacking for a couple days I don't mind carrying some extra weight to have a bit more luxury. For a solo trip I would definitely use this again. But I wouldn't mind bringing something larger to get some breathing room. The Vapor Light is well built. I would really look at how tall you are and what your comfort level is. The Vapor XL would be a great alternative to a beautifully designed tent. BUY NOW:The Sierra Designs Vapor Light Tent 2 on gear.com. [gallery orderby="ID"] ... Read more...
Hiking boots are totally out. Like Air Jordan, Pop Rocks, Hypercolor, sipping soda behind the bleachers, scrunchies - OUT. I'm at the point now where no gear salesman can tell me otherwise. The best thing to do with your old boots is go down to your local framing store, mount them in a glass frame, put a picture of you hiking when you were twelve next to them, and hang them on the wall. That is all they are good for. As for the Oboz Firebrand II shoes? They are the hottest thing since Justin Bieber and Coke Zero.Keen Targhee. The traction and movement is very similar to a Keen actually but the Oboz feels like you can get around a lot easier. The Keen Targhee in my opinion feels like a clown shoe at the circus - super wide and super ugly. The leather design for the Firebrand is well done. Treatable with Nikwax and has a good rubber toe for mud. The venting on the shoe could be done better. I constantly had to take off the shoes about every 1.5 miles to air out my feet. I was using a lightweight Lorpen hiking sock so I don't think it was a sock issue. That is a trade off for a burly weatherproof outer leather though, which I was ok with. At the end of the day, I love taking off my shoes anyway on the trail and relaxing. Especially when I'm backpacking with grapefruits.
Oboz Firebrand FitThis shoe can best be described as a well done Keen. I know I'm giving Keen a hard time in this article but the truth is, Oboz did it better. The toe box has a little space but not much. To me that is the right amount. The tread on the Firebrand gives it quite a bit of weight which I think could have been trimmed down a tad. The lacing system may be a culprit to the venting problem. You'd think the leather near the laces would have gotten more of the mesh design.
Hiking in the Oboz Firebrand IITwo weeks ago I took these on a 5 day backpacking trip. I had worn them for 4-5 months beforehand and really got them broken in. Now remember, this isn't 1992 so breaking in a pair of these low rise trail shoes isn't a 5 month process. When you hike in this style of shoe I like to get my feet use to the shoe to prevent sore and blistered feet. I can't say my prep-work really paid off. I think these either fit you or they don't. That may come off negative but honestly it's a positive. I'd like to now welcome Oboz into the big players VIP shoe box seats. What shoe brand isn't like this? Scarpa fits some but not all. Same with Garmont. Same with Salomon. And who knows about Keen. At the end of the hike I asked myself if I would've hiked in these shoes again for the trip. The answer is no. Why? Because my Scarpa Epics would have been a lot better. However, they did the job and didn't completely destroy my feet. Why no? Because I'm a selfish jerk when it comes to hiking. I covet my comfort. I hike with a pillow. I bring a solar shower. But that doesn't mean the Oboz Firebrand won't work for you.
Final ThoughtsEvery company is different. It's actually refreshing that Oboz is starting to move into a fitting niche. One size does not fit all in trail shoes. But these Oboz Firebrand have the design and quality that will rock the trail, in a good way. Give em' a try. BUY NOW: The Oboz Firebrand II Hiking Shoes on gear.com. ... Read more...
With camping season in full-swing, maybe it's time to look at your sleeping bag? Yeah, that old thing could possibly use replacing. The tattered edges and permanent campfire smell is a sign that you should look for a new one. But, with everyone looking to pinch every penny, the options become limited. If you're in that boat, check out what the Eureka! Casper 15 sleeping bag has to offer. I've been impressed with it since it arrived a few months ago and will be taking it out for a few tests in the coming weeks. At a $109 MSRP (as low as $65 at some retailers), the Casper 15 is quite the bargain. Lets dive into some of the features. Eureka! Capser 15 Sleeping Bag Features:
- Rteq Insulation
- Internal stash pocket
- Adjustable, contoured hood
- Draft tube
- External pillow pocket
- Trapezoidal foot box
- Lining Material: 210T polyester taffeta
- Shell Material: 210 T polyester diamond ripstop
- Stuffed Size: 9 x 16"
- Zipper: Right
- Total Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz
- Temperature: Rated to 15 degrees
- MSRP: $109
Eureka! Casper 15 Sleeping Bag OverviewThe Casper 15 arrived in its own compression-style stuff sack and I was very surprised by how compact it was. It is very small and light for being a low-price 15-degree bag. Often-times you'll get quite a bulky bag at this kind of price, but Eureka! stuffs a ton of value into the Casper 15. The construction quality is very high on this... I'd have no problems tossing this into my backpack and heading out into the backcountry. Another great feature is the trapezoidal footbox -- not something that's always included in a mummy-style bag. This one will help provide extra space for your feet while you saw logs in your tent. Speaking of sawing logs, the peached polyester lining provides soft next-to-skin feel that's much better than straight-up nylon or polyester. My plan is to take this bag out over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for updates. Buy Now: Casper 15 from Eureka! ... Read more...
The new Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a solid offering in the recreational camping category, and the suggested retail price point for this tent is definitely attractive at $129.90. I doubt you'll find a comparable tent at such a price. Eureka! is a long-time producer of expedition-grade and military-grade shelters, so it's a brand with a pedigree behind it. The Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a 2-person tent built for 3 seasons. This tent doesn't have the burliness of a 4 season tent that can withstand bitter winters, but it doesn't have the weight or price either. For most recreational campers, this tent will work quite well for when the snow isn't flying. And with the money you save, you'll be able to afford a bit more luxury in your sleeping bag purchase (oh yeah --- down, here we come!). When I first set up the Apex 2XT tent, I immediately noticed that many of the major seams are double-stitched and taped -- good for inclement weather, as is the 75D StormShield Polyester material. Also, it has a bathtub construction for the floor of the tent, which is a big plus in this author's opinion as well. The tent measures 7'4" x 4'11" and comfortably sleeps 2 adults. And the pleasant surprises just kept coming: it has an included gear loft (sweet), plenty of no-see-um mesh ventilation, and massive D-shaped doors on either side (for a cross-breeze and so that no one has to climb over their buddy to exit in the middle of the night for a bio break). I loved these features in the tent -- especially the size of the doors. The Apex 2XT tent also boasts a simple, straightforward 2-pole setup with snaps (not sleeves). The pole design is a simple X design with identical poles that fit corner to corner, crossing each other at the apex (pun intended, of course). Extremely simple -- my six year old boy has now become the named tent-setter-upper when we use the Apex 2XT. It is a free-standing 2-wall tent, and as mentioned the ventilation is good. But on those hot nights in the backcountry when you know it won't rain, one of the greatest moments in a camping trip is lying in a tent that is zipped up against the bugs but has a wide open view of the night sky through a mesh ceiling (sans rain fly). As you lie down in this tent, the fabric above the gear loft is not mesh -- and it sometimes seems to sit right smack in the middle of your night sky view. You still get that good experience with the mesh on the head/toe areas and the large mesh doors. But why not just go all the way and make the zenith out of mesh as well? When it rains, you'll be covering that mesh with the rain fly anyway, so I hope a future iteration goes all mesh. As mentioned, this 2-wall tent is accompanied by a good rain fly (making the 2nd wall) that can be staked out to provide 2 vestibules for coverage for each camper's backpack just outside his or her door. The vestibules measure 13 square feet each. A quick downside of the fly: the head/toe region has a big arc cut out of it (presumably to save weight). I never got dripped on, but it makes me worry about the rain effectiveness in that area. One thing I wish this tent came with is a footprint cut to size for it. I know that the low price point of $129.90 doesn't really allow for an inclusion like that, but nowadays I think that a footprint is not a luxury. But with all of this, given that it is a recreational tent, I was very impressed for the price point. The weight is 5lbs 6oz, which isn't much more than my Marmot Twilight tent (which retails for twice the price). Of course, the Marmot Twilight comes with a matching footprint, a more robust rain fly, and a massive expanse of uninterrupted mesh over the sleepers' heads. But that's why tents are made at different price points -- life is all about deciding on the trade-offs. With two small design changes, the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent could even become extremely competitive against higher-priced tents: 1) more rain fly in the toe/foot area, and 2) more mesh in the ceiling. All in all, the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a great value for the price and isn't as heavy as I was expecting for a recreational tent. It's very, very simple to set up and I love the doors and the construction. Aside from my qualms with the rain fly and the night sky visibility, I think it is very well suited to recreational campers. SHOP: Search for more Eureka! gear....Read more...
Just got back to the Rockies from another week of work meetings on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Every time I've gone out there in the past year or two, I'm reminded that hipsters (of the same ilk that flood the streets of San Francisco) love to look like they are lumberjack camping aficionados from the 60s. High lace-up leather boots, plaid flannel shirts...and skinny, skinny jeans. Don't forget the thick-framed Ray Bans. This style is all over middle America now, too, of course. Not bad-looking, to be honest. Beats several other styles by a country mile. But you know what's missing from the usual camper look you see? A vintage day pack backpack that is true to the period. None of this fake or new-fangled stuff. I mean the real deal. I mean the Kelty Vintage line. Kelty is a true brand from the heart of the golden age of American camping in the 60s and 70s. Founded in 1952, they turned out some of the original daypacks and other backpacks that defined the era. And Kelty is bringing back their vintage line of original daypack designs ---- and I love it. I grew up in the 80s in Seattle near the tail end of 8 boys. With that many older brothers (all of whom went camping in the Cascades or the San Juan Islands at least once a month), I had many of the original 70s-era Kelty packs sitting in the family gear closet. I distinctly remember the Kelty Daypack -- a pyramid-shaped, simple pack for car camping or day hikes. Now Kelty has brought it back, in all it's simple glory (even in the original red), to haul the iPads and Macbook Pros of hipsters born in the 80s and 90s. And I love the thing as much now as I did then. Next in the Vintage line from Kelty is the Mockingbird. In olive, this pack is destined to be a classic. Frankly, in my opinion it already is --- in high school, Kelty re-did this original Mockingbird in a black nylon and my friends and I used it repeatedly as our go-to day pack for backcountry skiing. Many-a-time it hauled the video camera up Mt. Rainier to Camp Muir with us to document the turns on the way back down. Functional then, and fashionable now. The Mockingbird has side bags that are removable, and is a top-loading pack with a cinch string. It has shoulder straps that are fastened to the pack with removable pins, making it versatile to convert from daypack into canoe-friendly gear bag. And did I mention how cool it looks with the olive with red and metal zippers with leather accents? Oh yes, this bag is classic. So keep your eye out for the Kelty Vintage packs in 2011. They are authentic and nostalgic, for sure. But that authenticity is also what makes them oh-so-hip in the second decade of the 21st century. SHOP: Search for more Kelty gear....Read more...
Here at Gear.com we tend to get a little fanatical about our insoles -- in particular, custom insoles. But this time around, we're not looking at a pair of custom orthotics or Surefoot or cork or moldable insoles --- we're looking at a non-orthotic insole from Thinsulate that has one purpose: keep your foot warmer inside your snow boots than a stock insole can. Thinsulate has built the insoles with a series of layers intended to serve unique functions. The top layer is an abrasion-resistant fabric, as you might imagine. It is antimicrobial and is a wicking fabric to help keep feet drier and reduce odors (perhaps would be good for Thinsulate to consider a partnership with Agion Active for this material). The second layer below the top layer is what Thinsulate calls the comfort layer. This is a foot-conforming foam to provide some additional comfort. However, I would not put this on par with a custom moldable insole. This is merely a memory foam type of material to give a bit of cushion. Below the comfort layer is the thermal layer, and I believe this is where the insole differentiates from stock footbeds you'll find in most snow boots. The thermal layer is Thinsulate insulation to provide warmth without bulk. There's a reason the Thinsulate brand tends to get recommended from friend to friend. It appears to work. It's the Gore-tex of insulation. And that's what these insoles are for -- provide better warmth for snow boots and other winter shoes that don't require orthotic support insoles. The final base of the insoles is the bottom layer that is a shock absorbing foam. I swapped out my stock insoles in my snow boots from The North Face with the Thinsulate insoles, and I can say that they are comfortable on first try. They certainly beat the stock insole for warmth -- but that's not much of a hurdle, since the stock footbeds were basically a thin and floppy piece of foam. Nevertheless, I would venture a guess that the thermal layer is doing its job. For those who aren't picky about arch support or custom toe bridges as you might get from a moldable insole, this may be a good and inexpensive replacement for your stock footbeds in your snow boots. I can see these being particularly useful for non-aerobic winter activities, such as ice fishing. So if you are still using worthless stock footbeds in your snow boots, spring for a Thinsulate replacement and see for yourself if it turns up the heat for you. Shop: Search for more Thinsulate items....Read more...
I've had a number of base layers in my day -- most of which haven't survived, because of a few rips or sometimes just their general grunginess after a fair amount of usage. And there are more than a few of those that were tossed after having been loaned to a friend, whose B.O. unwittingly sped the item along its path towards the rubbish heap. For those of us in this camp that is constantly searching for base layers that treat us right, a new material is in town: Agion Active. As eVent fabric opened the doors to a world beyond Gore-Tex in the outerwear category, perhaps Agion Active will do the same to move us beyond some of the age-old options we've lived with in base layers (Capilene, anyone?). Agion Active is built to be anti-microbial to fight the stink of normal base layers. It's secret sauce? A fabric finish technology that Agion claims is capable of making gear and materials that never smell. Agion says the cornerstone of this technology is silver, which doesn't surprise me -- for years silver has been considered a home remedy for killing microbes. That's where the term "silver spoon" comes from -- some claim that during the terrible infections and plagues that spread throughout Europe years ago, the wealthy would give their children a spoon made of sterling silver to suck on and it would help kill any germs they might incidentally ingest. As a result, to this day many individuals looking for natural alternatives to antibiotics, etc, will take a bit of colloidal silver (sometimes to unusual effect). So it makes sense that this same approach could be used to kill smelly microbes in materials, namely base layers in this case. Having used the shirt in a number of quite sweaty situations such as skinning into the backcountry in mid-winter or skiing hard all day at Snowbird in mid-June (yes, the lifts are still open!), I can say that this shirt is not nearly as stinky as most of my other base layers. I'm pretty stunned, in fact. I even loaned the shirt to a few friends who tried their best to stink it up -- and the shirt has not come close to reaching the stink level of other materials. At first impression, I would say that Agion Active has some good potential. What's more, it's a finish that can easily be applied at the end of the manufacturing process -- meaning that it could possibly be used to promising effect for products other than outdoor gear, such as carpets and pet products. Seems like Agion may have taken some old medicine and put it to creative new use. SHOP: Search for more base layer gear....Read more...
Are you a filtered water junkie? But feeling guilty about the massive amounts of plastic that get wasted each year, a fact that goes hand in hand with a bottled water habit? Camelbak has the solution for you. The Groove bottle has a filter integrated into the straw, so you can have one bottle that is reusable, and still get filtered freshness with each sip. The Groove is available in multiple bottle sizes, and follows the design of The Better Bottle. Personally, I do not have a discriminate taste when it comes to water. 15 years of competitive swimming has deadened my taste buds to chlorine, so I'll drink just about anything, pool water included. I do, however, acknowledge, that there are tiny things living in my water that make it smell funky, and it might be nice if they were gone. But I despise plastic water bottles, and have the same 3 water bottles that I've used for years, so I just tote those along and fill them wherever, ignoring any stench or unusual taste that came with it. Until now. Why not filter it? The Groove has made it simple enough and environmentally friendly to drink filtered water on demand.
Camelbak Groove Bottle- How does it work?The Groove has an integrated charcoal filter within the straw, with replaceable cartridges costing around $5. The filter is inserted into the straw, and you're good to go. Then, the Groove acts much like a smaller version of a Brita water filter- as the water goes through the straw, unwanted odors and tastes are filtered out. By the time it reaches your mouth, you've lost the chlorine, and most bad tastes and bad odors. The difference between the Groove and a traditional water filter is the speed. You can get water up the Groove straw at the same speed as you'd be able to with a regular straw; no waiting for filtration to take place. An important note- this is NOT a filtration device for non-potable water. Don't take this into the backcountry and expect it to remove bacteria and viruses commonly found in streams. Don't take this to foreign countries and expect it to keep you from getting a gnarly case of the runs. Don't put Gatorade in your Groove. All of these things will throw of both yours and your Groove's groove.
- Much more eco-friendly and economical way to consume filtered water. The Groove costs $25. Bottled water costs $1.49 at the last gas station I stopped at. If you buy a bottle a day, the Groove has paid for itself in 17 days. You still get filtered water, and aren't filling landfills with your plastic waste.
- The newly designed flip top on the bottle has a gel/plastic covered part that makes it a bit harder to open than the original design of The Better Bottle that just contains the hard plastic. While it might feel a bit nicer, it's harder to open.
- This particular design of bottle from CamelBak (The lid on any Better Bottle), whether Groove enabled or not, leaks if you tip it sideways. It has to do with the straw and bite valve integration. I have a few of these bottles, and if they're left sideways for a long period of time, you'll have a few drips. Not a flood, but enough to want to ensure you don't leave it in the same bag as your laptop.
Bottom LineThe perfect solution for the filtered water junkie. Am I going to convert immediately and only drink filtered water. Nope. But the Groove will go into my multi-bottle lineup of reusables that I reach for as I'm heading out the door.
Buy NowCheck out the CamelBak Groove or other great CamelBak Products on Gear.com... Read more...
Looking for a way to protect your hound's paws from the elements? Cold temps, scree slopes and long distances are no match for the Ruffwear Grip Trex Bark'n Boots.
Ruffwear Grip Trex Bark'n Boots Details
- Non-marking Vibram® outsole with a new, multi-directional, flexible lug design
- Adjustable closure strap
- A one-piece mud guard enhances the fit and long-term durability of the boot
- 3M™ reflective details provide low-light visibility from multiple angles
- Tightly woven air mesh keeps dirt and debris out while providing superior ventilation
- Knew-tec synthetic pigskin interior grip cuff helps keep boot on paw
Ruffwear Grip Trex Bark'n Boots ReviewI will be the first person to admit that I am skeptical of the idea of dogs wearing boots. I love the idea behind keeping a dog comfortable, but Baker, my black lab/cattle dog cross, is oblivious to pain. He will hike for hours, unfazed by fatigue, varied terrain, snow, or anything else that comes along. The idea of putting boots on him almost seemed silly. And, it certainly looked stilly. Then, last summer, when we were living on the beach, Baker was running along some rocks and snagged his toenail, ripping the majority of it off. After some intense first aid, Baker was officially on activity restriction, meaning "no getting his foot wet" for 3 weeks. The idea of keeping him away from the beach for 3 whole weeks was crushing, and I began to wish that I owned a set of dog booties so that he could keep his paw dry and still have a good time. However, I lost track of that idea and forgot to pick up a set. Then, winter set in up in AK, and we had a month of single digit high temps, with lows well below -25. Baker's cut off point seems to be about -10. He's fine to head outside until it's below -10, but after that he starts pulling the "flamingo" maneuver, where he runs outside, discovers how cold it is, and then pulls one leg up away from the ice, attempting to warm it. The following spring, Ruffwear redesigned their Grip Trex Bark'n Boots and I decided to give them a try. The newly designed boots have added traction and a new design to help them stay on better, which seems to work. I did have a few incidents of loosing a boot, but fortunately, it was in the middle of the trail and I snagged it before we biked/skied/walked past it. Overall, a great design and idea. However, there's a fine line between keeping your dog comfortable and looking just plain ridiculous. If you live in the city, and take your dog on short walks on mellow terrain, you run the risk of looking like a total bafoon if you put booties on your dog (at least in my book). Extreme cold temps, long hikes over rocky terrain, sure, that makes sense. Older dogs who need traction on hardwood floors to help them stand up? Go for it. Just to look stylish and match the sweater you just purchased for your pooch? Please don't. Just keep that in mind as you toss shoes on your hound.
- Protects your pooches paws in a variety of terrain
- Improved fit helps boots to stay on your dogs legs, instead of on the trail
- Ruffwear realizes that you'll have a "break-in" period with your dog and the boots. They've posted a great blog posting about how to deal with "The Break-In Dance," be sure to check it out here!
- Ruffwear also sells single boots. Rejoice, those of us who frequently lose things!
- Boots can still slip off occasionally. New design helps them stay on better, but they still wiggle their way off on occasion.
Bottom LineThe fit of the newly redesigned Bark'n Boots is better, and the idea behind them is great. Will I toss the boots on every single time I head on a hike with my dog? Probably not. Will I be super stoked that I own a pair come next January when we have 4 consecutive weeks of temps that don't get above zero? Absolutely.
Buy NowCheck out the Ruffwear Grip Trex Bark'n Boots... Read more...
Companies are puking new shirt designs out of their think shops daily claiming to be the best in non-stink and no-moisture technology. Before you get lost in the tricked out outdoor gear carnival of madness see what the team over at Backcountry.com has been up to with their Stoic Breathe 90 tee. Oh and who doesn't need new socks? Their Merino Comp Trail sock ain't bad either.
Stoic Breathe 90 TeeRemember your first nap on a warm Sunday afternoon in a big fluffy down blanket? The soft comfy feathers were indescribable. The fabric was on soft steroids. The nap lasted 14 hours. So take that experience and multiply it by 20 and you get the Stoic Breathe 90 Tee. The material is described as a nylon/poly blend (63.5 polyester, 36.5 nylon ) but I think the Stoic Oompa Loompas are keeping a top secret recipe for serious comfyness.
Using the Breathe 90 Tee by StoicA while back Icebreaker wanted me to wear their shirt for 12 days to take some no-stink challenge. Well my main problem was the shirt was drab. The style looked like I worked for the forest service and was on my way to lecture 12-yr olds on 'leave no trace'. I made it about 3 days and got bored. Sure it was techy, but I looked like a toolbox. The Breathe 90 by Stoic makes you look like you are sort of outdoorsy but a cool person to talk to while waiting for the barista to work her espresso magic. I made it about 8 days with the Breathe 90 and could not believe the odor resistance and moisture wicking capability during my runs and all around use.
- Running - You honestly don't feel the shirt. It's like running with your shirt off without showing your embarrassing unicorn tattoos.
- Backpacking - Perfect. Once again, the comfort doesn't create friction between you and the pack.
- Everyday Use - It's highly technical but doesn't look like it. Great for buzzing around town and shopping for expensive cars. There is something to be said for logo placement and not being a poster child for a brand.
Stoic Breathe 90 DesignThey made this funky fold V-neck collar that is absolute genius. Sure the shirt is $50 but the collar was the first thing I noticed. It provides a lot of movement without looking dorky. Stoic - whatever amount of Red Bull you are drinking to dream up this madness, keep the crazy juice flowing. BUY NOW: The Stoic Breathe 90 Tee on Gear.com.
Is this the end of Merino tees?I wouldn't say so. But I'd sure rather wear the Breathe 90 than a semi-thick nasty merino tee. Which brings me to my next exciting piece of gear...
Stoic Comp Trail Sock DesignThe thickness is perfect since using Merino can tend to be warm. Compared to your old pair of wool socks Merino is drastically lower in temperature but don't get cocky. If you are doing multi-day mixed terrain you may want a sock a tad thicker for more support. Stoic offers a ski sock and other trail running socks currently so stay tuned from the boys in Park City. BUY NOW: The Stoic Comp Trail Merino sock on Gear.com. [gallery]... Read more...
Merrell has always been in the business of making great shoes. Recently, they've delved into the world of apparel as well, but that doesn't mean they've left behind their first love, footwear. They've continued to crank out quality footwear, including the new Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Shoes.
Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Specs
- Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution keeps the stink at bay
- Merrell QForm® Comfort midsole provides women's specific stride-sequenced cushioning
- Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- 4.5mm sole lug depth
- Vibram® Chameleon Arc 2 Sole / TC5+ Rubber
- MSRP: $110
Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch ReviewThe Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch (whew... That's a mouthful! Think I'm just going to call them the Chameleons for now) function great as a crossover shoe from hiking to trail running. Though intended as a light hiker, you can blast off for a few miles of running along the trail and feel comfortable knowing that the Chameleons will provide you enough support, breathability and flexibility to get the job done. I've also taken them on a few "hike and bike" epics, and I enjoyed the lugged sole for use on my platform pedals on the mountain bike. A great feature of the Chameleons is the Q-form mid sole. This provides a different type of cushioning in the midsole of the shoe, based on the idea that a woman's strides is different than a man's, therefore necessitating a different cushion pattern. Rather than me trying to explain it and floundering, here's Megan from Merrell giving you the QForm run down.
- "Toothy" 4.5mm lug sole provides lots of traction.
- Transition easily from running to hiking in these shoes and don't worry about not having enough support or about them being too heavy. Perhaps this ease of transition is where the Chameleon name came from?
- Not stinky yet!
- Comfortable right out of the box- no break in time required for me! The QForm midsole really does provide a cushioned stride pattern, keeping your feet happy throughout your whole hike.
- The elastic lacing system takes some finessing. Because it is elastic, it's really easy to over or under tighten. After you've got it maneuvered within the eyelets, it's not too bad, but it does require some initial patience and occasional readjusting.
- Because of the give in the elastic, varied terrain becomes a challenge. To tighten them up enough to stay on, you're essentially cutting off circulation to your feet. However, loosen them, and they become like a pair of hiking Danskos, where your heel slips out or the side of your foot moves around as your on varied terrain.
Bottom lineThe Chameleons are great for light hiking or light running. Highly varied terrain (steep, scree-filled or mild scrambling) is out due to the elastic lacing and how much your foot moves. Use these guys for the lighter hiking days when you know you've got consistent terrain and you're stoked. Check 'em out: Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Ventilator Stretch Shoes... Read more...
The Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is just the jacket to help take the chill off a morning ride or to help increase your visibility while commuting home from work. It's lightweight, breathable, and visible. Sugoi gave me the opportunity to test and review the Zap.
Brand Item Name Features
- Full separating zip with guard
- Sleek invisible zip chest pocket
- 1 invisible zip back pocket
- Contrast elastic bound cuff
- Hemline finished with dual adjustable shockcord
- Engineered collar detailed with shaped back neck and soft brushed inside surface for comfort
- Perforated for ventilation
- 3M Scotchlite reflective accents for added visibility
- MSRP: $99.95
Brand Item Name ReviewThe Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is good jacket to have on hand. The Zap is lightweight and is just enough to help take the chill away on a cool ride. It can roll up small enough to fit into a jersey pocket or in your pack. While it doesn't specifically claim this, the jacket helps block a light wind as well. To help with ventilation there are two mesh screens that are under the arms and wrap a little towards the back. The Zap is also a great jacket for urban rides. It is highly visible, espeically if you get the yellow color. The Zap features reflective striping along the zipper, reflective accents on the chest, sleeves, hips, and back, and a long reflective piping down the back. In terms of being seen, the Zap in yellow is one the best jackets I've worn. There is a single chest pocket and rear pocket at the bottom of the jacket. The chest pocket is big enough for a cell phone or an iPod (if you ride with one). The rear pocket is larger...big enough for a small water bottle (for context). The Zap is extremely comfortable. The collar is lined with what feels like a microfleece that is soft on the skin. The cut helps keep it out of the way of the helmet as well. The cut is just right for the bike. The front of the jacket is a little short to help keep it out of the way and back is cut long for extra coverage. I typically wear a large jacket and the body fits nicely. It's slim but not snug so there's no flapping in the wind. The sleeves would be the perfect length for me if I was just wearing the jacket around. I have a positive ape index (my arms are long than I am tall) and I usually have issues with sleeve length. Like I said, if I was just wearing the jacket they'd be perfect. But when I ride in the hoods the sleeves pull up some. If I ride on the flat bars they only pull up a little. The Zap will also shed a light drizzle as well. I haven't had it out in heavier rains, but I'm fairly certain it would soak through. For light drizzles though, it's good. At $99.95 it's affordable as well. The Good
- Extremely Visible
- Fits well & comfortable
- If you have long arms, the sleeves can be a little short
Bottom Line:If you need a cycling jacket to help cut the chill and make you more visible, the Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is a sure bet. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
Like many women I love shoes but most of all I love slip-ons. So, when Patagonia deemed the Advocate as the ultimate travel shoe I knew they were a must have. Once they arrived, I eagerly opened the box cut off the tags and slipped them on. The first time I tried on the Advocate I struggled a bit, but once they were on they felt nice and snug around my feet. They're extremely lightweight at only 4 oz and feel as though you're not wearing shoes. The one thing that didn't feel right was the extra room in the toe box. Although, I wasn't stoked on the extra room I figured it was something I could live with as it wasn't too bad. A few months later it seemed as though the toe box became even roomier. One could contribute the roomy toe box to the fact the shoe isn't available in half sizes. So unless you're a true 7, 8, 9 etc you'll most likely experience some extra toe space. Patagonia's ultra lightweight Advocate could have been this girl’s favorite travel, camping or just around town slip-on shoe but today the shoes live in my gym bag and only see the light of day after yoga. Patagonia Women’s Advocate Shoe Details
- Durable, super soft synthetic leather upper
- 20% EVA anatomical footbed provides cushioning, comfort and support; 2 mm 15% recycled EVA insole provides extra cushioning
- Lateral and medial elastic stretch bands provide comfort and easy on-off
- Rear pull loop provides easy on and off
- Armadillo sole provides traction and durability
- Available in six colors
- MSRP - $55
- Not smelly after an 8 hour day
- Partnered with 1% For The Planet®
- The Fit
- Not available in half sizes ( I’m either 6 ½ or 7, depending on the brand, and opted for the 7)
Looking for a jacket to keep the chill out on your run that you can also wear out to dinner? The Merrell Phoebe meshes a functional Merrell OptiWick-treated liner with a stylish cotton "burnout" style pattern exterior, keeping you dry and stylin' while doing it. A lightweight zip-up jacket, the Merrell Phoebe will surely find a spot in your closet in one of the four stylish colors that it's available in!
Merrell Phoebe Jacket Specs
- Polyester interior treated with Merrell OptiWick
- UPF fabric on exterior
- Side hand pockets
- "Burnout" pattern and smocking add style
- MSRP: $89
Merrell Phoebe Jacket ReviewFor after yoga, during a quick run, or just to run to the grocery store, the Phoebe is a lightweight cotton/poly blend jacket that has you covered. The Phoebe has 2 layers- an inner, polyester interior treated with Merrell OptiWick technology. This functions as a "wicking" layer, which draws moisture away from your skin as you sweat. The outer layer is a soft cotton/poly blend that comes in a variety of colors in a "burnout" pattern, so you don't have to look like you've just finished a run, even if you have. My favorite color? The charcoal. Matches everything I own and isn't too bright for my style. The inner/outer layer hybrid makes the jacket warmer than your average cotton zip-up, but it's still fairly lightweight. I like it as a layering piece on the cooler days, or for some lightweight insulation as I bike to the gym in the mornings. A comment about sizing: I'm normally a size small in Merrell's jackets, but I almost could have gone with an extra small in the Phoebe. It was a little bigger than I was expecting in every area but the sleeves. Keep that in mind when ordering- it's a relatively loose fitting zip up.
- OptiWick fabric does a great job of keeping you dry if you wear this during activity or just after.
- Available in 4 stylish patterns
- Big front pockets allow room for keys, cell phone, whatever you need!
- No hood, which makes the Phoebe classy enough for me to wear to work on cooler days without looking like I'm wearing a piece of technical clothing.
- Sleeves are a bit short, and much bigger than I was expecting. The cuff is tight but the sleeves are loose, creating an unexpected poofy feeling.
Buy NowMerrell Phoebe Jacket... Read more...
For a long time, if you said you were going to grab a CLIF Bar, that had one meaning- the original CLIF bar that Gary Erickson created in his family's kitchen 20+ years ago. These days, CLIF makes a variety of bars, shots, shot bloks and other energy replacing products to fit a variety of activity and taste bud needs. Below is a selection of my favorite CLIF bars and products, divided into "bars" and "non-bars."
CLIF OriginalCLIF still makes the original CLIF bar that started the whole company, although now it comes in several flavors. My personal favorites include Mint Chocolate Chip and Maple Nut. New for this year is a Coconut Chocolate Chip, which I've yet to try, mainly because I hate coconut. Someone else will have to report back on that one! Each original CLIF bar is made of 70% organic ingredients and comes with 23 vitamins and minerals. Buy Now: CLIF Bars
CLIF CrunchThe CLIF crunch is a granola bar. Crunchier than the original energy bar and the Mojo, a trail mix bar, the Crunch completes the texture variety triumvirate. CLIF now has the energy bar, with the chewiest texture, the Mojo, with pretzels and nuts adding a little crunch, and now the CLIF Crunch, a granola bar that packs a punch and requires a solid munch. The CLIF Crunch is intended to be a lighter snack. Not quite as heavy and protein laden as an energy bar, but still "not your ordinary snack," as CLIF would say. The Crunch is available in 6 flavors, 2 of which have a low glycemic index, so you're bound to find something that suits your fancy. Buy Now: CLIF Crunch
CLIF MojoThe CLIF Mojo bar is an all natural trail mix bar. Full of nuts and pretzel chunks, the Mojo offers some great texture for an energy bar. It's also free of high fructose corn syrup, and has no artificial sweeteners, which is something you don't find in your average trail mix bar. A CLIF Mojo makes a tasty snack and still provides 8-9 grams of protein in each bar. A nice addition to the CLIF bar line that offers a different texture than your standard bar. This year, the Mojo is available in 3 new flavors- Chocolate Almond Coconut, which I have not tried (see earlier coconut comments), White Chocolate Macadamia and Dipped S'mores. In addition to the original flavors, this makes 8 different choices for your trail mix bar enjoyment. Buy Now: CLIF Mojo
CLIF ShotsMy discovery of the CLIF shot forever changed how I eat while I recreate. With a condition that makes my blood sugar fluctuate more than the stock market, I was constantly battling to keep my body happy while exercising for long periods of time. I felt like I was stopping to pull out a sandwich, a bar or another snack every 30 seconds. Then, I discovered CLIF shots, a tiny little dose of energy in gel form. No more stopping to eat- 5 seconds to suck down a shot and I was good to go. I am a huge fan of all the flavors, but this year CLIF outdid themselves. The CLIF shot is now available in a Chocolate Cherry flavor, which comes with 100mg of caffeine. Ever eaten a chocolate covered cherry? This is what the Chocolate Cherry shot tastes like. I'd eat one of these suckers for dessert. Not wanting to buzz yourself? Here's the caffeine breakdown: No Caffeine (Chocolate, Vanilla and Razz flavors), 25 mg caffeine (Strawberry and citrus), 50 mg caffeine (Mocha) and the mother of all caffeine filled shots, the 100mg, which you can get in either Chocolate Cherry or Double Espresso. Added bonus of the CLIF shot- the top rips off, but doesn't fly away thanks to the Litter Leash. Toss the whole thing in one go, and never have to worry about the microtrash you might be leaving behind. Buy Now: CLIF Shots
CLIF Shot BloksWhat, you may ask, is a shot blok? Looking at the packaging, you might assume you've grabbed your kids lunch instead of your snack when you headed out the door. At first glance, shot bloks look much like fruit snacks. Small, chewy and fruit flavored, shot bloks are like fruit snacks for active adults! Hate the texture of CLIF shots? Here's your solution. When CLIF originally released the Shot Blok, I was interested, but they didn't become an immediate weekly running staple. However, when they redesigned the packaging to make it a tube that allowed for hands free consumption, I was sold (read my original review here). The FastPak fits in running shorts or a bike jersey, and can easily be opened and consumed with one hand. With 8 flavor choices, you're bound to find one you love. My personal favorites? Margarita, which comes with 3x the sodium, or Black Cherry, which comes with 25 mg caffeine. Also available are orange and tropical punch (with caffeine), lemon lime, mountain berry, cran-razz and strawberry. Buy Now: CLIF Shot Bloks
Bottom LineI'll be packing CLIF bars, CLIF Mojos, CLIF Crunch bars, and a myriad of Shots and Shot Bloks for my bike trip this summer. I know they'll provide me with the energy I need in the saddle.... Read more...
As the summer starts and I pack up for my bike trip, I'm also getting together all the things the dog will need for his multi-week vacation with the "grandparents," down in Idaho. On my list of things to pack for Baker, my 70 lb black lab/cattle dog mix is his new Ruffwear Hoopie Collar and Flat Out Leash.
Hoopie Collar Details
- 4 New Pacific Northwest inspired designs for Summer 2011
- Separate ID tag attachment point + included tag silencer = a quiet collar, even with tags on it
- Constructed of tubular webbing- soft yet strong
- Aluminum D-ring attachment point for leash
- MSRP: $14.95
Flat Out Leash Details
- 4 New Pacific Northwest inspired designs for Summer 2011
- Side buckle handle allows for 3 different leashes within 1.
- Traffic Handle- perfect for those situations when you need a bit more control. Just grab the doubled section close to the end of the leash, and you've got a 1 foot leash instead of a 6 foot.
- Talon Clip allows for easy, one handed clipping to collar
- 6 foot length
- MSRP: $29.95
Ruffwear Hoopie Collar and Flat Out Leash ReviewThe Hoopie Collar has long been a staple of the Ruffwear Collar line. Made of tubular webbing, it is strong enough to do the job yet still lightweight for your hound. This year, the Hoopie features a new D-ring attachment for a a leash, which integrates well with the Talon Clip of the Flat Out Leash. It also features a silicon tag silencer, which is nice if you don't want the noise. I live in Alaska, where the bears and moose almost outnumber the people, so I've taken off the tag silencer and added an extra bell: up here, we're happy when the dog makes some noise and alerts the wildlife, as opposed to startling them! However, the tag silencer is a nice feature if the jingling drives you crazy when your pooch is wandering the house at 5am, wondering when breakfast will be served. Now, on to the Flat Out Leash. You'd think there wouldn't be that many details that would go into a dog leash- which is why I've never owned one. I've always grabbed an old piece of climbing rope and a carabiner, and just used that. It made lots of sense when my dog was a puppy; this way if he chewed his leash to shreds, I could toss a new section of climbing rope onto the carabiner, and, voile, new leash. So, for years, I've never actually owned a dog leash. Then, I got the Flat Out Leash and saw all the things I was missing out on. First, the leash is significantly lighter than my rope/'biner combo. Second, the Flat Out Leash has some pretty sweet features, from the Talon Clip (which you really can attach with one hand, no trouble) to the "traffic handle," to my favorite, the side buckle handle. The side buckle effectively makes the Flat Out Leash function as 3 different leashes. Wear it around your waist for hands free fun with Fido, use the leash as a hand-held leash for a regular walk, or buckle the leash to a tree or post and use it as a fixed leash as you run inside to grab a cup of coffee or drop off the mail. Last sweet feature? You can coordinate the colors with the Hoopie collar and your 4 legged friend will look all sorts of steezy.
Buy NowCheck out the Ruffwear Hoopie Collar and the Ruffwear Flat Out Leash... Read more...
Outdoor Research continues to design and produce products that are "designed by adventure" with their new line of Echo Synthetic T-Shirts. Available in a long sleeve or short sleeve version, the Echo is a great lightweight, wicking piece that can be worn independently in warm weather or layered on those chillier days. I wore the Echo L/S on a few runs and bike rides around AK, and it was great in 45-50 degree temps while I was active. After about a month of use, the Echo doesn't stink yet! I'm still biased towards wool when it comes to the stench argument (which is why I love the Outdoor Research Essence Tee so much- the wool mix keeps it stink free), but the Echo is holding its own thus far.
Outdoor Research Echo L/S Tee Specs
- Lightweight polyester AirVent fabric with polygiene odor controls keeps you dry and relatively stink free.
- Hidden pocket with "media port" on side of shirt
- Flatlock stitching
- MSRP $39.95
- Super lightweight. Feels like you're wearing nothing.
- Offers some UV protection (UPF 15) while still being very thin.
- Flatlock stitching keeps chafing to a minimum for those long, active days.
- The media pocket is a nice idea, but I find that for running, my iPod wiggles around and eventually worked its way out of it. For more low impact activities, it sat right where the hip belt for my pack wanted to sit. I didn't end up using it too much, except for biking, where it was nice to have.
Buy NowOutdoor Research Echo L/S Shirt... Read more...
Practicing yoga is a great way to strengthen your body, gain flexibility and center your mind. I understand sometimes it's hard to stretch after a long day, but joining a yoga class might just do the trick. You can't deny the powers of yoga and the zen you feel after an hour class. After a year plus hiatus, I recently started practicing yoga again and I feel great. We buy specific mats, straps, and blocks for yoga so why not yoga inspired apparel? When buying yoga apparel, keep in mind the style of yoga you plan to practice. Unsure brush up on your Yoga 101. Three things to keep in mind when choosing yoga apparel:
- You'll want quick dry or moisture wicking items, especially for hot or bikram yoga
- Nothing TOO baggy, look for snug to loose fits
- Fabrics that stretch allowing you to easily move from pose to pose.
- dyed cotton jersey
- Novelty wash treatment
- Center front zipper
- Shirring at front neckline
- 92 Organic Cotton / 8 Spandex
- Organic cotton/Tencel fabric with a touch of spandex for stretch and performance
- Racerback tank with a feminine twist at center front
- Full shelf bra for active support
- Wide waistband sits snugly on hips
- 6.1-oz 54% organic cotton/41% Tencel®/5% spandex jersey. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- The ultimate medium rise, slim fit crop - ideal for yoga, gym, bootcamp, or Pilates
- Luon®, our signature fabric: breathable with coverage, cotton-feel, 4-way stretch providing support and allowing freedom of movement
- Smooth, flat waistband
- Gusset designed for greater range of movement & comfort
- Waistband inner stash pocket to secure $ & keys
- Flat seamed for chafe resistance & comfort
In search for a replacement bag for my older TimBuk2 classic messenger bag, I thought I'd branch out and try a Merrell Aerobat Messenger bag. Yes, that's right, Merrell makes bags, too. I was surprised when I found out that they made jackets (and was quite impressed by the Falconry TriTherm), and even more surprised to discovered they have a whole line of totes, messenger bags and luggage. If you hear "Merrell" and think only shoes, it's time to re-adjust your Merrell paradigm. Bags, jackets, shorts, skirts, tops, hats, and oh, yes, their stellar line of shoes as well; Merrell seems to be doing it all these days. The Merrell Aerobat messenger bag caught my eye as I began to search for a new "business bag," to replace my tattered, many seasons old TimBuk2. This time around, I was looking for something a bit more compact, with a better organization/pocket system, so I didn't have to spend hours searching for my phone within the abyss of one large pocket. I also wanted something with an integrated laptop sleeve, or at least a partition to keep my laptop away from the other things in my bag, which range from running shoes to preschool toys for the kids I work with to extra snacks. I figure the more padding, the better chance I have of not annihilating the laptop. The Aerobat met all of these needs, so I went ahead and gave it a try!
Merrell Aerobat Messenger Bag: The Details
- 15 Liter capacity
- 15"wide x 13"high x 4"deep
- 840 Denier nylon twill material
- Tarpaulin underside of flap (think TNF Base Camp Duffles. Similar to that material). Flap is reversible so you can have the top of the bag be waterproof in the event of some April showers.
- Magnetic closure on 2 smaller pockets and large flap.
- MSRP: $99.00
Merrell Aerobat Messenger Bag: The ReviewOverall, a great messenger bag. It's compact, but still large enough to fit my regular MacBook. I can fit the charger, some snacks and a few other books, papers or materials for work within the main zippered compartment of the bag. Running shoes are a stretch, but if I stack them just right, I can get them in there too for my mid-day run at work! The bag has a shoulder strap that is adjustable, but also has a small handle directly attached to the bag, so I can grab it quickly using that as well, which is nice. I also like the reversible front flap. The whole flap zips off, and can be turned upside down to reveal a more durable tarpaulin material. Good for the rainier days. I also like the 3 separate outside compartments for organization. No more reaching my hand into the abyss to locate my phone or my granola bar- they can each have their own exterior pocket.
Merrell Aerobat: The Good
- Compact, but still has enough storage for your day to day activities.
- Integrated laptop sleeve keeps your computer safe while you're on the run.
- Multiple, separate pockets allow for easy organization.
- Zippered top in addition to the flap closure. Double the protection, less chance I'm going to accidentally dump stuff out everywhere.
- Functions well as a briefcase, but doesn't come with the old-man-wearing-suspenders-carrying-the-leather-briefcase-with-a-lock-on-the-side stigma.
Merrell Aerobat: The Bad
- The cam buckle on the shoulder strap is in a funny location- on the strap as opposed to integrated into the bag. If you loosen the strap significantly, the cam buckle can rest funny on your back. Avoidable if you leave the strap fairly small.
- Less bike-friendly that my older messenger bag- no waist strap. However, not a fatal flaw. I use it for my "business bag," on days that I can't bike to work.
Buy NowMerrell Aerobat Messenger Bag... Read more...
If you emulate Matthew McConaughey then Sanuk is your shoe...I mean sandal. And when I mean emulate I'm talking spill expensive margaritas on mink suits in Cabo repeatedly while surrounded by ladies who are fighting over the one and only shirt you own. Kick back, quit stressing, ditch the cubicle, and slip into the Sanuk Donny Primo.
My First Sanuk ExperienceAt this last OR, Sanuk PR queen Rachel won me over with her contagious enthusiasm for comfortable footwear. Immediately she ordered me to take off the shoes I was wearing (a tester pair for another company) and had me slip into the 100% recycled Sanuk sandal. I would have had a camera rolling to record my response if I could have predicted how epic my face was. Amazing. Unreal. Like no other. All of the above. Incredible. Remember, on a monthly basis my closet has about 5 new pairs of the latest footwear in the industy. Psst...Sanuk slays them all. If only they were crampon compatible.
Sanuk: Shoe or Sandal?Honestly, who cares? All I know is if you have lunch with the Sanuk CEO or kick it with a crew of hipsters at the Wake and Bake Cafe in Moab you better call them sandals. I call them shoes but after a couple months of doing EVERYTHING in them, I see why they call them sandals. Because their not shoes, their sandals. Get over it already.
When to Sanuk?Oh gracious did I just make a new verb? And you thought Google was a catchy verb, wait till people start Sanuking. The Donny Primo model in particular handles water and dirty really well. Compared to the other models I peeked at this is a great all around. The Donny Primo works great for the office. I actually wear these to a weekly business meeting, without socks, and people pretty much worship me. My main concern at first was stink. I have a gnarly stinky foot disease and Sanuk eliminates my insecurities. There are four 'air holes' on the inside of each shoe that make all the difference. No sweat and no stink. The fabric makes a big difference compared to other comfy slip-on shoes. Not sure the exact remedy to this ageless frustration but the Wonka factory at Sanuk resolved it.
Usually I say start these type of letters nice, then move to sarcastic, flat out critical and rude, then build you up again. In your case, I'm speechless. I mean, you took a shoe or sandal, or whatever and made it non-stinky, comfortable, and durable. I don't want to tell you what I've used these for in fear that you'd restrict me from future purchases, but I'll say they have been through it. Guys and gals at Sanuk - you not only have a customer for life, but a bona fide influencer. I've told everyone I know about your epic brand and will continue to do so. -Adam from Gear.com
Sanuk Wrap-upI'd whine about the $50-80 pricetag but the quality of these shoes will out last the abuse you put them through. They collapse small making it the ultimate backpacking base camp shoe. They slip on effortlessly for after skiing or kayaking. And my all time favorite: for some reason dirt doesn't stay in the shoe, it completely washes out. BOTTOM LINE:If I wasn't married I'd probably take Sanuk to dinner. You may think that's awkward but wait until you try these amazing shoes....SHOOT! I mean sandals. BUY NOW: Find the Sanuk that matches your personality on Gear.com. ... Read more...
April showers bring May flowers and it’s raining jackets here at Gear.com. Like a good pair of snow boots a good rain jacket is another staple every woman should have. Rain jackets have come a long way and there are various styles and colors to pick from. First things first, figure out what you’ll be doing the majority of the time wearing the jacket (i.e. shopping, traveling, trekking, etc). Once you have it narrowed down you'll be able to find a style which works best for you. If you’re an around town type of gal then I recommend the trench style. However, if you’re planning on trekking through the rain forest then maybe a classic style is up your alley. I'm practical and go for the classic style. Just because classic is very functional doesn't mean you can’t be fashionable by playing up the color. Check out my Top 3 picks and stay dry this Spring. 3. Women’s Precip Jacket by Marmot The Precip Jacket is affordable, stylish, and packs down into the pocket. Who doesn't want a jacket that packs down to nothing?! Take this classic jacket from everyday life to the backcountry. Pit zips are a must if you plan on trekking or hiking and the Precip wont disappoint. Since it’s available in sixteen colors no need to worry about your BFF sporting the same color! Sport either a two tone or solid color this season, I’m diggin the ultra violet/light violet and everglade. MSRP: $99 Jacket Features
- PreCip® Dry Touch Technology, Waterproof/Breathable - Waterproof / Breathable
- 100% Seam Taped - For Full Waterproofness
- Full Visibility Roll-Up Hood with Integral Collar
- PitZips™ - Underarm Zip That Extends Into the Body for Aggressive Venting
- Pack Pockets™ - Slanted Chests Pockets That Can Be Accessed While Wearing a Pack
- Double Storm Flap Over Zipper with Snap/Velcro® Closure
- Elastic Draw Cord Hem - For Adjustability in Serious Weather
- DriClime® Lined Chin Guard - Moisture Wicking Fabric Protects Your Face From the Zipper
- Angel-Wing Movement™ - Allows Full Range of Motion in Arms so Jacket Doesn't Ride Up
- Waterproof, breathable, seam sealed
- Adjustable, removable hood
- Center front two-way zip
- Two flap-closure chest pockets
- Two hand pockets
- Removable waist belt
- Internal media pocket
- Zip sleeve gussets
- 2.5-layer nylon ripstop shell with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- 2-way-adjustable hood with laminated visor rolls down and stows
- Microfleece-lined neck for comfort and enhanced protection of waterproof/breathable barrier
- Center-front zipper has exterior and interior storm flaps to keep water out; pit zips with storm flaps and Deluge DWR-treated zippers
- Self-fabric hook-and-loop cuff closures
- Pockets: two handwarmers, one internal mesh drop-in
- Drawcord hem; packs into zippered self-storage pocket
- 2.5-layer, 2.6-oz 50-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
Is it a hat? Is it a face mask? Neck warmer? The balaclava is kind of weird piece of gear, but it's extremely versatile and well worth having. The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is about as straight forward as it gets. I picked mine up for bike commuting this winter and I won't get another winter without it.
Patagonia R1 Balaclava Features
- R1® stretch fabric (made from 41% recycled polyester) provides wicking warmth, breathable comfort
- Lightweight and very compact
- Face opening can be worn above mouth or under chin
- Fit is smooth and clean without being restrictive
- R1: 6.8-oz 93% polyester (41% recycled)/7% spandex. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- 56 g (2 oz)
- Price: $35.00
Patagonia R1 Balaclava ReviewOut of all the balaclavas I researched the Patagonia R1 Balaclava was about as simple as they get. There's a ton of options with a lot of "specialized" uses, depending on what you want it to do. I was looking for something that I could use mainly for bike commuting but could also work for other cold weather pursuits. I liked the simplicity. The R1 fabric is a lightweight fleece with a small waffle pattern on the inside. It's extremely soft to the touch and didn't irritate my face at all. The face mask is big enough and stretchy enough that I could wear it either under my chin or pulled up to my eyes. It was very warm and yet slim enough to fit underneath my bike helmet. With that in mind it would also fit under a ski helmet, sled helmet, or even a climbing helmet. It was warm enough that on my coldest commute day (-7 degrees F) it kept my head and face warm. The extra bonus is when you wear it, you feel like a ninja. The Good
- Face mask could fit under your chin or pulled up to your eyes
- Looks really cool
- I couldn't find anything bad