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Whether you’re on groomers, knees deep in powder tree skiing/riding or skinning up a peak for a little backcountry -- here are my Top 3 snowboard pants for 2011/12 and beyond. 3. The North Face Women's Skinster Pants When The North Face came out with their Cryptic line I was a bit skeptical, but since most of my fleece and hiking apparel is North Face I thought why not give it a try. The rest is history. The Skinster pants are a new low-rise boot cut fit, which is nice for us snowboarders! The pants are equipped with waterproofing, good breathability and are fully seam sealed to keep you dry. Only bummer -- available in just one color. MSRP: $199 Features:
- Fabricshell: Hyvent® 2l Stretch Twill / Lining: Stretch Taffeta
- Waterproof, Breathable, Fully Seam Sealed
- Recco® Avalanche Rescue Reflector
- Adjustable Waist Tabs
- Handwarmer Zip Pockets
- Inner Thigh Vents With Mesh Gussets
- Stretchvent™ Gaiter With Gripper Elastic
- Reinforced Cuffs
- Chimney Venting™ System
- Pant-A-Lock Compatible
- Buddy Lift Clip
- 10,000/8,000mm Waterproof/Breathable Rating
- Strata Hd Ii™ With DWR - remains waterproof and breathable, even after numerous washings.
- Fully Taped Seams
- 15,000mm Waterproof
- 10,000gm Breathable
- Fully taped seams
- Fleece smarty liner pant with capri length adjustment
- Thigh cargo pocket with flip-up pass pocket
- Zippered side pocket
The snow has stopping falling, resorts have closed and the days of charging steep and deep powder is just a figment of our imagination. Why wait until Fall or the snow to start falling again to get in shape for the ski season. Golden Coast Productions the producers of Surf Stronger -The Surfer's Workout just released their third workout DVD Ski Stronger - The Skier's Workout. Certified trainer, Scott Adams takes you step-by-step through a ski specific training program to help develop the leg strength, core stability, and total body conditioning to make you a better athlete and a better skier. Workout all summer and make your friends jealous when opening day rolls around. About: Golden Coast Productions is the proud maker of Ski Stronger--The Skier’s Workout and the popular Surf Stronger video series. Drawing on research-based principles of exercise science and extensive skiing and surfing experience, these sport-specific workout programs are challenging and effective. It is our belief that the better your fitness for your sport, the better you'll perform and enjoy your sport. Ski Stronger Review Feel the burn. The first time I did the Ski Stronger workout I was so sore. Sore in a good way. Living in Tahoe I thought I was in ski shape, but I guess that wasn't the case. Although I wasn't too sure after the first workout feeling sore I decided to continue. After 3 days a week for a few weeks I started to feel a difference all around. I would like to say my skiing improved, but I'm a boarder. With that said I did start to feel stronger and with my core stability improved powder days became even more enjoyable. Even though the season has now ended I've continued using the Ski Stronger video 2 days a week mixing it up with Surf Stronger, gym workouts, yoga, hiking and my summer favorite mountain biking. What do you do to stay in shape during the summer? MSRP: $34.95 (video), $14.99 (ipod download) 60-Minute Workout Breakdown: 5 Minutes: Pre-ski warm up routine. Focused on building dynamic flexibility. 35 Minutes: The skier’s workout. Building core stability, leg strength, balance and endurance specific to skiing while using movements related to skiing. You might feel like you are skiing in your living room 8 Minutes: The skier’s flexibility routine. A series of stretches and yoga movements geared to enhance and build mobility for your hips, legs and back. 12 Minutes: Express core workout. Focused on back, hip and abdominal muscles for added strength, stability and endurance in your core making you feel stronger on powder days! Pro's:
- Simple, easy to follow
- At home workout
- Feeling Stronger after a few days
- Take it anywhere on your ipod
- Additional purchases may apply: Pair of Dumbbells, Fitness Ball, Yoga Mat (optional)
- Personal motivation to keep going (working out with a partner might be helpful)
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
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
Spring has officially sprung, although in some parts of the country old man winter is still hanging around. When the seasons change typically you'll find me lusting over the latest gear. A good rule of thumb is to go through what you have and donate a few things to make room for a few new pieces. Trying to pare down a Top 3 list for Spring wasn't an easy task, there's a ton of new gear to be had out there. You'll find my picks are everyday life staples for Spring and beyond. 3. Scrunchie Tote from Timbuk2 MSRP: $80
- Because one can never have too many bags. Ladies you can relate, each bag has a different purpose in life and the Scrunchie Tote is one of those GREAT everyday bags. Since it's from Timbuk2 I can guarantee you'll get miles out of this bag. Although, I'm not too keen on the name as it reminds me of the 80's hair scrunchie, it's still a perfect fit for ladies on the go. So what would I use it for you ask? Everything! Work, gym, farmer’s market, carry-on and so much more. It's too new for fun funky colors, but I'm digging on potrero as it's sure to match any outfit.
- A roomy all-around gear bag that cradles your yoga mat and looks good doing it.
- Refined weave ballistic nylon exterior with a stylish printed graphic liner.
- Exterior slash pockets for quick access and hidden zipper pocket for safe keeping.
- Waterproof TPU base so your gear stays dry, even on a damp gym floor.
- Key tether to keep you locked in.
- Zip top closure gives you the option to be super secure or casually closed.
- Living in Tahoe you can’t leave the house without your trusty sunglasses. It’s also handy to have sunglasses for specific occasions. The Smith Aura is more of the fun weekend warrior type. They're also not only functional but fashionable. Remember I usually opt for functional fashion. Wear them on a boat or cruising down the boardwalk with your pals. I'm digging the stone frame with a brown gradient lens for Spring.
- Anti-Reflective and Hydrophobic Lens Coating
- Medium Fit/Medium Coverage
- Techlite Polarized Glass TLT Lenses
- Stainless Steel Spring Hinges
- An oldie but a goodie, the Women's Rain Shadow Jacket is a lightweight jacket every woman should have in their closet. It packets down to a small ball making it easy to throw in your Timbuk2 Scrunchie Tote when weather calls for rain showers. Roomy enough to layer over a sweatshirt on colder days without it being bulky. I purchased this jacket for my trip to Central America with the idea of trekking through rain forests and hanging at beach for three weeks. It kept me dry and warm. Today, I wear my Rain Shadow Jacket around town and while hiking. This is the jacket for you if you're looking for something lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. Make a statement with color, I’m digging on the prickly pear for 2011.
- Lightweight - 10.9 oz
- waterproof/breathable H2No barrier and Deluge DWR
- Roll-down, 2-way-adjustable hood with a laminated visor improves hood structure and visibility
- Microfleece-lined neck and chin for comfort
- All exterior zippers and pit zips are watertight, coated and treated with a Deluge DWR
Hi Tiara here. As the resident Mountainista, I pride myself in finding comfortable, functional, and most importantly stylish outdoor gear. When it comes to shoes I've found women tend to sacrifice either comfort or fashion. Ladies you know what I’m talking about. Well long gone are the days of sacrificing fashion for function. Companies such as Sorel, The North Face, Merrell, Columbia, Keen, and Patagonia have started manufacturing fashionable and functional snow/winter boots for women. Because your feet will love you, here are my top three: 3. ) The North Face - Women's Abby Chukka Face it who doesn’t like a touch of fur? Warm, stylish and functional is the theme, right? The Abby Chukka is here to please your feet and your style. Available in three color options, these cozy and easy to slip on booties are great for running errands or Après drinks after a day on the mountain. The North Face added stylish heel straps and a few snowflake details on the side of the boot. Abby Chukka's are classic, fun and here to stay. MSRP: $135 Abby Chukka Features:
- 200 g PrimaLoft® Eco insulation
- Plush faux fur lining
- Waterproof, pull-on construction for easy on/off
- Northotic™, compression-molded, dual-density, internal midsole with 3/4 length nylon shank
- Durable TNF Winter Grip™ rubber outsole with Ice Pick™ temperature-sensitive snowflake lugs
- Seam-sealed waterproof construction
- Waterproof full-grain leather upper
- 100g Thinsulate™ insulation with 3mm felt lining
- Traction-enhancing multi-directional rubber outsole
The Merrell Tetra Strap Waterproof boot is not only my top pick for your non-traditional snow/winter boot but, my personal go to winter boot when I'm not wearing my Sorel's (used for deep powder days). The stylish, comfortable and functional equestrian-inspired Tetra Strap boot should be a staple in every woman's wardrobe. Wear these boots to the office or out on the town. They will keep your feet cozy, dry, and stylish.[caption id="attachment_103885" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Merrell Tetra Strap "][/caption] MSRP: $170 Tetra Strap Waterproof Features: UPPER/LINING
- Cement construction provides lightweight durability
- Merrell Weather-Tight™ construction provide a water resistant barrier
- Full grain leather upper
- Merrell Weather-Tight™ construction provide a water resistant barrier
- Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
- Microfiber wrapped footbed that’s soft to the touch and treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
- Molded nylon arch shank
- Merrell QForm® Comfort provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning
- Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- Merrell Tetra II Sole/Sticky Rubber
When you live in a ski town it's hard waiting for the next powder day. As anticipation builds you might dream about face shots and pillow drops or do a little snow dance and call on Ullr. Either way when you hear “powder day” you're giddy like a kid on Christmas morning! Of course on those mornings after a good snowfall you wake up anyone and everyone in the house throw on your gear slam back coffee some H2o and any food you can quickly throw together, all while heading out the door. Did I miss anything? Maybe a little shoveling, but that can always wait until you've gotten your powder fix in. Here are a few of my top powder stashes at Heavenly located in South Lake Tahoe CA. 3. Western Perimeter (aka WP) Accessed via Olympic Chair (Nevada Side) WP offers some of the most hidden stashes, steeps, pillow drops and natural features for your shredding pleasure. Head into The Pines (skier’s left) and follow the boundary line as long as you can. If you’re lucky you’ll make the high road reaching the top of the burn where typically a nice cornice drop can be found. From there drop in and have fun. Jump on the Northbowl chair to head back up the mountain. 2. Milkyway Bowl To guarantee fresh POW turns this should be your first run of the day. Milkyway is well worth the traverse or short hike. Plus you can hit Mott Cayon right after, given the gates are open. Access Milkyway Bowl via Dipper Chair on the Nevada side or Skyline Trail coming from Cali Side. If you didn’t know, now you know - Heavenly spans over California and Nevada. 1. Firebreak You’re not a local if Firebreak isn’t on your list of favorite Heavenly spots on a powder day. Technically this “run” is out of bounds. Marked with a skull and crossbones “You May Die” Firebreak can be accessed through the back country gate skier’s left via Olympic Chair (Nevada Side). It will not disappoint from steep trees to scenic views not to mention epic powder turns in every direction. Nothing is off limits. Once you’re down, if that wasn’t enough you can always head back up the gondola for more. Tip: Don’t go alone and if you’re a firebreak virgin take an alumni or you might end up hiking out.If you haven’t caught on powder days equal tree riding to this girl and Heavenly hands down has the best in the basin. Check out Tahoe Stash for other spots any local may or may not share. What are some of your favorite spots on a powder day? Pray for Snow, Tiara... Read more...
But what if I want to haul more than one pair of skis? That's the biggest question I've got for the latest in ski rack designs--the Raxstars ski rack. Simple in design and I'm sure solid in performance, the Raxstars ski rack is portable (it can fit in your glove box), lockable, simple and affordable (so long as you're only carrying one pair of skis). At a mere $24.95, it seems like a great option for on-the-fly ski carrying or slipping a pair of skis onto an otherwise-occupied set of crossbars, but the cost savings and ease-of-use quickly dissipate with each pair you wish to carry. Again, I don't want to discount American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, but this has limited appeal considering the money and effort needed to carry 4 pairs of skis on a regular basis. I'd just fork over $120 and get the Thule Universal Flat-top 4 if it were up to me. Here's a Youtube Video demo of the Raxstars ski rack: Read on for more information from Raxstars on this new ski rack:
Structured Solutions announced the launch of their new Raxstars™ portable sport racks. Establishing a new category of rack systems, Raxstars attaches to any factory auto rack with a crossbar and allows outdoor enthusiasts to mount their skis, snowboards or kayaks in just minutes. Raxstars are quickly removed and are small enough to store in a glove box or under a seat. At $24.95 (MSRP), Raxstars will appeal to families and outdoor addicts who need a safe, secure and affordable transport system for their gear. Traditional rack systems can cost more than $100 with a time consuming installation that stays on the roof year round. The Raxstars innovative locking clamp design secures outdoor gear to the vehicle’s crossbar without tools and provides five times more locking force than standard roof-top carriers. Besides economical, Raxstars is small and versatile so it can serve as a primary carrier system, or a backup system. Skiers with full ski racks or with different sports accessories won’t have to add racks or switch out accessories. When not in use, the Raxstars portable racks does not stay on the roof rack—no added wind drag or noise from your ski carrier being left up all summer. Several Raxstars can fit in the glove box or just about any vehicle’s storage compartment. Raxstars are available for sale on the company website www.raxstars.com and through specialty retailers around the country. About Structured Solutions: Structured Solutions llc has earned global recognition as the leader in the development of innovative, safe and easy-to-use tools. Last fall, Structured Solutions launched two newly designed wheeled snow shovels to compliment the original Wovel®, named one of the best new inventions in 2006 by Time Magazine. The innovative Folding Frame SnoWovel debuted in a new category of hybrid tools, combining safety for the user and the environment together with high-performance.More Info: Visit www.Raxstars.com... Read more...
As Major League Soccer goes, it was an underdog story all the way. In the MLS Cup Final it was the LA Galaxy versus REAL Salt Lake. The fabled David Beckham and Landon Donovan were playing for the LA Galaxy soccer club, by far the favorite over captain Kyle Beckerman and his REAL Salt Lake team. RSL was the last club to make the MLS playoffs, and had arguably not been as strong during the regular season as previous years. But soccer basically has two seasons: regular and playoffs. And it is in post-season play that underdogs can turn out to be a serious threat. In 2009 RSL proved that to be the case. The final against LA did not start well for Salt Lake. They were strong, but after Beckham fouled star RSL player Javier Morales (who was sent to the bench with an injured left leg as a result) things looked a little shaky for REAL. Morales was heart-broken, and his injury kept him from ever returning to the match. The Galaxy then went on to score with Donovan and Beckham setting up Magee for a point right before the half, making it 1-0 in LA's favor as the teams headed to the locker room. But the tide shifted slightly when, not long into the second half, there was a three-way collision between RSL's Findley, and the Galaxy's Gonzalez and Ricketts (goalkeeper). In the collision, Gonzalez's cleated foot appeared to slam into his own keeper's right hand, and Ricketts sustained a serious contusion on his 4th and 5th fingers. Ricketts stayed in the game, but shortly thereafter Findley attacked and got one past Ricketts on a pass from RSL teammate Yura Movsisyan (who unfortunately has now played his last match for RSL and will be moving to Europe to play in Denmark). This tied up the game and breathed that underdog life into the REAL team. Ricketts left the game and was replaced by rookie keeper for the Galaxy, Josh Saunders, who immediately surprised everyone with some great saves and poise for such a big game with high consequences. The score remained tied 1-1 for the remainder of regular play (the full 90 minutes plus 7 minutes of stoppage time). It then went into two 15 minute sessions of overtime. But even after the 30 minutes of extra play it remained tied, with all players absolutely exhausted - especially RSL star Andy Williams, whose aggressiveness is always surprising. Both LA and Salt Lake had used all their substitutions, and seeing Andy and others lag told the entire tale of how taxing this long and hard-fought final had been on both teams. The championship would be decided by penalty kicks. At the end of 5 PKs, the teams were even at 3 each. But when it came time for LA's Edson Buddle to face RSL's star goalkeeper Nick Rimando, in this author's opinion it was obvious that Buddle wished he were ANYWHERE but on the field at that moment. The results showed it. Rimando owned Buddle's attempt, leaving RSL's Robbie Russell a chance to win the cup for Salt Lake. Robbie had started in the final to replace the fluid and tenacious Tony Beltran, who suffered a quadricep injury in the semis. Russell promptly stepped up to the PK and buried it in the lower-left corner past Saunders. The deed was done - the REAL Salt Lake club had won the MLS Championship for the first time in the franchise's history! This Salt Lake "brotherhood of a team" is the real star here, and coach Jason Kreis is now the youngest coach to ever have won the cup. Here's to RSL's captain Kyle Beckerman, MVP goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Robbie Findley, Robbie Russell, and all the rest of the RSL team! Thank you for bringing the MLS Cup to Salt Lake!...Read more...
In recent months, the acquisition market has started buzzing and the outdoor industry is seeing its fair share of it. Just today, Implus Footcare, LLC announced that they acquired Highgear (maker of altimeter and heart rate monitor watches and electronics). While both companies call the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina home and both companies are involved in the outdoors, it seems more like a bailout than a match made in heaven. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but it just seems odd. To be honest, Highgear has been struggling to compete in the high-end market for years. Their watches and technology are good and solid, but not on par with market-leaders Suunto and Polar. My guess is this may be somewhat of a shotgun wedding, but I'm a complete outsider looking at it from outside the fishbowl. I trust that the combined company will now be stronger and more able to deliver high-quality products to the market. And now the release:
Implus Footcare LLC has acquired Highgear, the provider of performance watches, navigation tools and accessories. The acquisition comes as Implus continues its commitment to expanding its current outdoor and sporting goods product offerings. Highgear's products include altimeters, compasses, pedometers and navigational devices, as well as licensed New Balance sports monitors. "Joining the Implus family provides Highgear with a new sense of energy and additional resources to continue our growth and expansion, and to meet the changing needs of the outdoor market," said Mike Hosey, President and Founder of Highgear. "The shared strengths and synergies we have with Implus was obvious from the get go, making this transition a natural fit for the Highgear brand." "The addition of Highgear® to the Implus brand family greatly increases our reach to the growing outdoor consumer segment,” said Todd Vore, President of Implus. "Highgear’s® line of products allows us to meet the many needs of outdoor enthusiasts and complements our other outdoor brands: Yaktrax, Granger’s and Little Hotties Hand & Body Warmers." The acquisition of Highgear comes on the heels of the company's relocation to an expanded facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Boasting over 252,000 square feet, the new Implus location brings all of Implus’ distribution operations under one roof. Over the last two years, the company has successfully acquired and grown three major brand expansions: Yaxtrax, a unique line of winter traction footwear, Sneaker Balls, a line of sports air fresheners, and Little Hotties Warmers, a leading provider of hand, body and toe warmers. Implus also became the North American distribution channel for Grangers, a leading company specializing in performance care treatments for fabrics and leather.More Info: Visit ImplusFootcare.com... Read more...
I just received the following release from Intrawest (owners of Whistler-Blackcomb, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Tremblant, Winter Park and more) about their new helmet policy. I think it makes complete sense... I've worn a ski helmet for nearly 15 years and can't see why anyone wouldn't wear one, but that's just me. Here's the release
SAM Magazine--Vancouver, B.C., October 1, 2009--Intrawest announced that starting this season, the company will recommend that all visitors at all of its North American resorts wear helmets. In addition, there will be mandatory helmet requirements for all youth participants in ski and snowboard school programs, as well as students participating in freestyle terrain park programs, regardless of age. The age span requirements will vary from resort to resort, but will be between three and 12, 13, 14 or 17. A helmet will be included with all kids' rental packages at Intrawest-owned outlets and parents can no longer use an opt-out clause for certain programs and activities. The company will also step up efforts to educate both employees and customers on the importance of helmet use. In fact, much of Intrawest's future marketing visuals will contain helmeted skiers and riders. As for employees, by 2010-2011, Intrawest will require employees to wear a helmet while on-duty in the terrain parks and staff at the ski and snowboard schools will also be required to use a helmet if they are participating in any program that requires mandatory helmet use by the guest. Several resorts will begin these helmet use guidelines this season, with the rest coming on board for next season.Do you think this is going overboard or do you think it's a smart move that more resorts will follow? ... Read more...
I have to admit that I love football season. It means the temps start dropping, rivalries heat up, and old friends start emailing each other again. It means speculation and conspiracy theories about the BCS and all that drama runs rampant. It also means any underdog can triumph so I'm watching my Cougars, Huskies, and Utes with lots of anticipation! And fall always means that you start into that great time of anticipation and gearing up for ski season while the smell of snow is in the air.... Having suffered four major shoulder injuries in my skiing career (not unlike a typical quarterback might suffer) this fall my eye is on some of the good protective gear that's out there. My favorite brand is POC. They make gorgeous and functional helmets, gloves, and gear for ski racers and downhill mountain bikers. But I am shocked at the prices. Over $300 for an armor shirt? Almost $200 bucks if you want a set of elbow pads and knee pads? So this fall I was looking at football gear and I see Reebok making sets of shoulder pads for juniors for sale around $50 (see third pic at right). Sure, it doesn't have the spine guard. But couldn't Reebok integrate some spinal protection, lighten up the structure and profile of the shoulder pads, and still come in under $100 with a bike/ski offering? What about brands like CCM that produce hockey and lacrosse protective gear? I've got to believe they could do it too. And skateboarding is a great example of competitively priced armor -- you can find sets of of knee/elbow pads from Pro-Tec or Triple Eight for under $40. It may not be as full-featured as other brands, but it is half the price. Maybe I'm missing some technological wiz-bang thing that POC and others have, but I'm glad to see Race Face making something that at least approaches that price point: The Rally Body Armor shirt that is currently going for about $120 from JensonUSA (see pic of black armor shirt at right). Maybe I'll have to check it out. And if any of you can guide me into understanding why POC and some others have such high prices, please comment below and point me in the right direction. I guess I just don't know what justifies the prices of some armor brands out there....Read more...
Like most Subaru owners, I've been very loyal over the years. Since 1996, I've owned 5 Subaru wagons--one Legacy wagon and 4 Outbacks. When I consider purchasing another vehicle, I really don't wander much from the Subaru lineup because of the overall value Subaru provides. They are also a very progressive company with environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. Now all that may change with the 2010 Subaru Outback. Not only is it built unnecessarily like a wanna-be SUV with extra plastics and "tough" styling, they've completely missed the mark on one of the most important features--the factory roof rack! Most roof racks are simply an open rail going front-to-back on the vehicle. This allows for easy installation of any aftermarket crossbar from Yakima, Thule or others. Being stuck with the factory crossbars is an extremely limiting factor, in my opinion and here's why:
- Subaru is in the car business, Yakima and Thule are in the roof rack business... 'nuff said
- Genuine Subaru accessories are typically 4-5 years behind in technology
- The factory crossbars typically have lower load ratings
- Factory crossbars are funky shapes, thus limiting the bike and ski rack attachments
- Factory crossbars are limited in width and will only allow 2-3 bikes or a small box and a single bike... aftermarket bars can be set up wider to accept more bikes, skis and a larger box AT THE SAME TIME
So we’ve had several of the Outbacks in our shop now, and I’ve got good news and more bad news.Good news–the Yakima Skybox 16 will work. This will be the biggest box we can go with, and it will hold your 185cm skis. The Thule Atlantis 1800xt is officially too big to clear the hatchback, though. More good news–Thule will let you use the Crossroad 450 setup, and Yakima approved the Railgrab. Bad news now–the crossbar spread for the above options are an almost pointless 21″–less than you will need for boards or boats over 8′, and too narrow for any cargo baskets or boxes. Skis and most bike racks will be OK. Yakima grants you 150lbs capacity, and Thule will only let you slide with 110lbs.Well, that pretty much sums it up from the rack experts at RackAttack.com. As a loyal Subaru owner, this is disappointing, but my disappointment is tempered because my next vehicle will likely be of the 7-passenger variety. Just so long as the Subaru Tribeca doesn't lose its standard roof rails (hint, hint, Subaru!), it may still be in the running against the Volvo XC90 and other similar mid-size SUV's with 3 rows of seating. Look at the pictures to the right... one of these roof rack rails is not like the others. More Info: See the Rack Fail for Yourself at Subaru.com... Read more...
Over the past few years, it seems like both the amount of ski binding manufacturers have decreased while a slew of others are hitting the market as re-badged Tyrolia bindings. I suppose that's not too out-of-the-ordinary given the fact that 1) the manufacturing technology is expensive to develop and tool and 2) Tyrolia makes a solid (but sometimes heavy) binding. The reason this is coming to mind is that after thumbing through the Powder Magazine Buyer's Guide, I kept wondering why half of the ski bindings listed were even on there. Of the 12 bindings listed, 3 of them were Tyrolia (4Frnt Deadbolt 15, Head Mojo 18 and Fischer X17), Two of them were Look (Rossignol Freeski2 180 and Look PX 14 XXL Legend) and two were Salomon (Atomic FFG 16 and Salomon Sth 12 Oversize). So, in reality, there are only 8 ski bindings to feature, not 12. I suppose this is really not much of a surprise or a big deal, just a gee whiz moment on my part. But, just be aware as a consumer when shopping for ski bindings. You may be able to get the exact same binding at a lower price because it's not branded as a Marker, Salomon, Tyrolia or Look. And, another suggestion... if you don't know how old your ski bindings are, it's probably time to pick up some new ones. With surefire killer deals this Winter, now is a great time to shop. Buy Now: Search for Ski Bindings...Read more...
Just 2 ski seasons after the K2's purchase of Karhu Skis, they're rumored to be dropping the Karhu Telemark line. This would include the Karhu Team 100s, Team 130s, and the Karhu Women's Berthas (what I ski on). Karhu, a Finnish brand started in the early 1900s, had an interesting variety of product. From running shoes to nordic skis to alpine skis, Karhu seemed to do it all. Then, in the summer of 2006, K2 bought Karhu telemark, and began marketing and producing Karhu's brand. Now, not 2 ski seasons later, K2 is dropping Karhu, and some sweet skis are no longer going to be available. Despite the loss of some pretty rad planks, K2s dropping of Karhu stings on another level. Right about the same time that K2 acquired Karhu, they also acquired Line skis. So, K2, the variable big bad wolf of the ski industry, comes in, swoops up some pretty sweet, smaller companies, and now, 2 ski seasons later, drops Karhu like the proverbial hot potato. Not cool in my book. Smaller companies have been uprooted, moved their central operations to Vermont, and are now owned by the man of the ski industry, K2. AND! It's not just skis. K2 also now owns Dana Designs (makers of what I maintain is the sweetest backpacking pack on the market), and Tubbs, a snowshoe brand. For each brand that K2 has purchased, that's local jobs (Dana Designs was originally based out of Bozeman, MT, for example) that have now been relocated to VT, all to fall under K2s overly large umbrella. Also not cool in my book. So, k2 acquired a company full of great products, and is dropping them after 2 short ski seasons, effectively ending North American consumer's access to skis such as the Team 130, Storm and Bertha. Not cool, K2....Read more...
They’re often covered up, shoved into ill-fitting shoes or taken for granted as the body’s least-glamorous appendage, but the feet are actually the structural foundation of the human form, supporting an average of 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. In fact, podiatrists say just as much attention should be paid to the feet as the face when it comes to preventative care – from the type of sock we wear to our bathing habits.
Although they’re often treated as such, the feet are not an orphan, insignificant part of the body,” said Dr. Marc A. Brenner, podiatrist, and director and chief executive officer of the Institute for Diabetic Foot Research in Glendale, NY. “They’re typically taken for granted until they hurt, and once you have foot pain, all activities cease – from socializing to sports.According to Dr. Brenner, “extreme foot consciousness” is necessary to ensure this critical part of the body functions without fail. Here, he shares a few simple tips on how to keep feet healthy and free from common ailments and injuries:
Make sure you’re wearing the right sockIn addition to frequently changing your socks to ensure cleanliness, Dr. Brenner encourages people to re-think their use of traditional tube socks. He instead recommends Injinji Performance Toesocks™ as a means to prevent several common foot problems. “The socks’ patented design separates each toe with a thin layer of fabric, which prevents rubbing and hyperhidrosis (excessive moisture),” he said. “This technology eliminates inter-digital fungus and yeast, plantar warts and bromidrosis (stinky feet), while structurally supporting and isolating the digits more than any tube sock possibly can.”
Practice a strict daily foot regimen
- A thorough examination – Look for cuts, scratches, cracks, blisters or other abnormalities, and don’t forget to check between the toes and on the bottoms of the feet
- Good bathing habits – Wash feet daily with soap and warm water, then pat dry, paying special attention to the area between the toes. Trim toenails straight across right after washing feet, then slip on a pair of Injinji Toesocks to keep them clean, dry and protected, even if you’re just padding around the house.
- Pampering your feet as you would your face – In addition to wearing Injinji Toesocks, use foot powder between the toes and apply an emollient to the heels and bottoms of the feet
Be cognizant of season-specific protective measures“During the warmer seasons, like late spring and summer, people are more active than ever, but sometimes neglect to take the proper precautions for their feet,” said Dr. Brenner. He suggests you:
- Choose functional foot gear – Open-toe shoes should have proper arch support. Closed-toe shoes can still be a cool alternative during the warmer months when paired with any of Injinji’s lightweight Performance Series socks, which feature moisture-wicking, breathable CoolMax® fabric. They look great with flip-flops, too!
- Be cautious about going barefoot, even on the beach – Bare feet are a great port of entry for foreign bodies and viruses. The next best thing to being barefoot? Injinji Toesocks, several of which incorporate smart fabrics like X-Static® and NüBamboo™, which are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, respectively.
- Treat yourself or have someone treat you to a foot massage – This activity is not only pleasurable, but also promotes healthy circulation
- See the podiatrist at least once a year – Examination of the feet should be a part of your annual, preventative check-up
"The majority of the cases I see as a podiatrist could have been prevented if people just paid a little more attention to their feet,” said Dr. Brenner. “Just like tires to a car or a foundation to a structure, without the feet, the body simply doesn’t function, so we need to start respecting and protecting them.Injinji is the maker of Performance Toesocks™ (“tsoks”) for sport, outdoor and casual use. A recipient of the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, Injinji’s Performance Series is recognized for its ability to provide superior moisture management and healthy digital alignment. The Injinji Sponsored Team, Team Injinji, is comprised of elite marathoners, ultrarunners, coaches and adventure and endurance athletes who have adopted Injinji's as their tsok of choice. Visit www.Injinji.com. Buy Now: Search for Injinji Toesocks... Read more...
I was reading on the local news about a John's Hopkins study on the affects of energy drinks and the high amounts of caffeine they contain. The findings were truly alarming and got me thinking more about these "energy in a can" drinks. Do they help? Are they dangerous if consumed in excess? What about all the young kids drinking them? My personal belief is that you should not be addicted to any substance--whether that be nicotine, caffeine, drugs or chocolate for that matter. Addictions come in many forms, but the increased addiction to caffeine because of energy drinks is, in my mind, alarming--especially since 1/3 of all energy drink consumption is from teenagers.
Energy Drinks Aren't RegulatedWith hundreds of energy drinks on the market, there's no regulation on the caffeine content, which can vary between 50-505 mg. The problem is that the caffeine is the point of the drink. That alone contributes to the "buzz" and extra "energy" you receive from its consumption. For comparison, you can expect about 160 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. of Starbucks drip coffee--still quite a bit. As a result of all this energy drink consumption, many teenagers are becoming increasingly-addicted to these highly-caffeinated beverages, which can lead to alcohol or drug abuse. Yes, that whole much-debated gateway drug effect that applies to cigarettes and marijuana as well.
Natural Energy is BetterI stated above that I don't believe anyone should be addicted to any chemical or substance. The human body performs best when its well taken care of. Natural, whole foods and healthy drinks (ahem... water) should be the staple of any athlete's diet, not caffeine-packed "energy drinks". I've made that choice for myself and truly believe that to be the optimal energy drink for my body. Having been addicted to caffeine previously, it's a hard habit to break and the withdrawals are awful. That alone makes me never want to consume caffeine again--especially in high quantities like those found in Redline, Spike Shooter and the like. While mountain biking, skiing and participating in other outdoor sports, I prefer to keep myself naturally hydrated with vitamins and minerals (I use nuun tablets) and then supplement that with high-energy natural foods and energy bars that don't have caffeine. Does anyone else see energy drink consumption a potential problem, or am I the only one? Chime in below... Check out www.EnergyFiend.com for details on the caffeine content of many popular drinks. Story from KSL.com: Energy Drinks Part 1 - Energy Drinks Part 2 Photo courtesy KSL.com... Read more...
Over the years I've heard many different formulas and methods for fitting a backpack. Some of it coming from young 20-something's who have 2 weeks experience on the sales floor making their way through college and other bits and pieces from people who have logged miles with a backpack but have little understanding of how to properly fit anyone else based on anatomy. This video from Gregory Backpacks is quite likely the most clear explanation of how to properly fit a backpack that I've ever heard. I'm sure watching it you'll think to yourself, "Well, yea, that's so obvious" as well as a flood of memories like I had of shop rats telling me a myriad of ways to fit a pack. The guy featured in the video is Wayne Gregory, founder of Gregory packs. He's been in the backpack game long enough that along with types like George Lowe, he's considered a father of modern backpacks. Gregory was the first to encorporate different pack sizes based on torso length. After all, if a pack won't fit your frame it won't fit, period. Check it out: Watch for some Gregory pack reviews this winter here on GEAR.com --Check out Gregory Packs selection of packs in the shop section of Gear.com...Read more...
Looks like T-mobile will be carrying google's new "Android" phone, the G1. I just checked out the rock-and-roll demo of the phone and at this point it looks ho-hum. I mean, the music is hot, but the phone looks clunky. Admittedly, I'm a huge Apple fan, but I haven't yet jumped on the iPhone 3G bandwagon. My biggest reason is AT&T... their lackluster customer service and expensive services plans have soured my drive for the iPhone. I do have an iPod Touch and completely enjoy the interface and user-experience. It's so easy to use that I find my 3-year-old writing email and browsing YouTube or watching The Incredibles on it all the time. Her favorite YouTube video to watch is Crazy Horses by the Osmonds (it's bookmarked as it should be). Thanks to the new iPhone/iPod 2.1 software update, I've now disabled YouTube so she can't happen upon someone's soft porn unknowingly... phew! I digress... back to the T-mobile G1. I think it misses the mark and definitely will not be an iPhone killer. I venture that this particular version with be a flop and here's why:
- The form-factor looks HUGE
- Where's the bling? Nothing on this phone breaks new ground
- The design looks like it was built by the miltary
- The upturned button area adds to the awkward form-factor
- Google is not know for their interfaces... these guys are engineering-driven and we all know how well engineers design interfaces
- Full QWERTY keyboard, but the slide-out design may be problematic
- It's not on AT&T
- T-mobile's customer service is great
Almost two years ago I received a message from Kris Kaiyala who was at the time running a cool little online ski journal and essay site called Aspect Journal. Aspect was seeping with the soul and stoke of skiing as it's essays and stories captured the why and the how behind the joy that comes from sliding on millions of frozen water crystals. Kris and a handful of others were starting up a new kind of ski magazine, one that for the lack of comparison or equal would be like the snowboarding magazine Frequency, which with its over abundance of images and a severe diet of advertising had gone from your run of the mill bathroom read to "put it on the mantle for all to see" status. The message? Kris wanted to me to pen a piece for the inaugural issue of a new kind of ski magazine - The Ski Journal. The result of that first issue? SOLD OUT!
The Ski Journal - Volume 2, Number 3If you've read ski magazines for any amount of time, you too have likely become accustomed to reading perhaps one or two good articles in a ski publication along with a half a dozen top notch images while otherwise enduring an endless amount of "bro-brah semi-stoke/semi-puke educing propaganda" (advertising) in the process. Not so with The Ski Journal. It was in the middle of my 3rd solid article when I thumbed through the remaining pages, spying enough reading to keep me up all night, or to keep you on the "throne" long enough for your legs to be well asleep. I was having flashbacks of POWDER Magazine of old, back in the late 80's and early 90's when I started subscribing. When I began using POWDER as a sort of "Zen and the art of ski bumming" as I became indoctrinated into the world of skiing by writers like Steve Casmiro, David Goodman, Chris Noble and David Mo. It was a time when photographers like Scott Markewitz, Bob Woodall and Wade McKoy were cutting their teeth. This issue of The Ski Journal features fresh photographers like Erik Seo and Grant Gunderson with writers like my friend Tim Cartwright or Lisa Richardson and Majka Burhardt, names you may not heard of...yet. But it hasn't forgotten the past and what brought us to this point in skiing. Case in point - the Hexcel and the Honecomb Revolution article. So it feels to me like I've come full circle as The Ski Journal not only brings back the "glory days" of ski publication but also presses forward breaking new ground, uncovering new talent and regaining the Coffee Table status that once was reserved for former times.
Subscribe:Don't miss out on the next issue of The Ski Journal. It's worth the price.... Read more...
Cheap gas. What could be better? Lots and lots of cheap gas. Unfortunately, that's not what you often find lately -- especially during the summer driving season. What's worse, you can't find cheap gas here in Utah at all --- in fact, Nevada has lower gas prices than Utah right now. In fact, most of the US has cheap gas compared to Utah where the price is still upwards of $4.25 per gallon in many places. But I recently picked up an Audi A6 Quattro, silver with a 3.2 liter engine. And I have been very pleased with one particular aspect of it: it doesn't require premium gas. So cheap gas is no longer a pipe dream for someone who wants to drive a luxury all-wheel drive car. What's more, its fuel economy is so good that it gets roughly the same gas mileage as a Subaru Outback wagon. You know, I heard a quote (and I can't remember the reference) that the automobile companies' goal is to make the average guy dissatisfied with his existing car about every 1.5 years so that he'll pick up a shiny new one with a cool new design. I guess I am definitely guilty of succumbing to their strategy sometimes, but this time around I think I've picked up a keeper: the Audi A6 Quattro. I had been driving a Subaru Outback, but decided to be "sensible" and pick up a simple Ford Fusion sedan about 2 years ago when they first came out. But here's the problem: In the winter I do dawn patrol backcountry ski tours at least once or twice a week in the morning before work. And on snowy days, I would take my wife's '05 Toyota 4Runner. But I always felt awful leaving her with the Ford, because then she couldn't really go anywhere that day --- it was just front-wheel drive, and we live right at the bottom of the Cottonwood Canyons in Salt Lake (20 minutes from Snowbird). She would have plenty of snowy, hilly roads to maneuver. So my quest for a good all-wheel drive car began... I went through a lot of choices: Another Subaru? A different wagon like the Volvo XC70? A BMW 325xi? And I even considered an AWD Ford Fusion. But frankly, none of them had the polish and powerful engine I was looking for at the price point I wanted to hit. Plus, many of the luxury brands required premium gas. Then I came across the Audi A6 Quattro. It has a 3.2 liter engine, all-wheel drive, leather seats, built-in turn-by-turn navigation system, etc, etc, etc, etc......I couldn't list all the options. But I found one at roughly the same price as an LL Bean Outback, which doesn't even have all the high-end features of the Audi. Then the kicker --- it didn't need premium gas, it could take mid-grade gas just fine. So here I had found it --- an all-wheel drive car for my wife to drive on snowy days when I take the 4Runner, but at the right price, and it doesn't require premium. Cheap gas was no longer totally out of the question --- compared to the BMW and Volvo cars that all required premium. I've been monitoring the mileage I get too, and even with driving it hard and in the city a lot I am getting just over 25 mpg. That's not bad for an all-wheel drive luxury car with a 3.2 liter engine. I know some will think that's not such great mileage, and others will think it's dumb to go for a luxury car. But for me it was the right combination of top end features, price, and practicality. I certainly think the Audi A6 Quattro is worth a test drive, especially if you live in the Rockies....Read more...
I resisted the 29-er revolution until last fall. I'd seen 29-er fully rigid singlespeeds made from niche manufacturers for years--mostly embraced by the hippie fringe mountain bikers wanting to buck the norm. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that we saw 29-inch wheels popping up on mainstream manufacturers like Gary Fisher and Felt and on botique manufacturers such as Niner Bikes, Ellsworth, Turner and Ventana. Like I said, I hadn't ridden a 29-er until last fall at Interbike 2007's Outdoor Demo at Bootleg Canyon, Nevada. My first lap on a 29-er was on a the Niner RIP 9--hardly a good place to start for a first-timer. I say hardly a good place to start because the RIP 9 sets the bar extremely high as far as versatility and function. I've currently got a Niner RIP 9 in for long-term testing and I continue to be impressed with how well it performs. Not only is it one of the finest 29-ers on the market, it just happens to be one of the best all-around mountain bikes on the market, period. In addition to the Niner, I've also got an Ellsworth Evolve 29-er in for long-term testing. Once again, Ellsworth is proving how amazing their ICT suspension design is. Efficient doesn't even begin to describe how well the ICT suspension performs while climbing and descending. The Evolve, like the RIP 9, is also one of the finest all-mountain bikes on the market today. With each bike, you have to shell out a premium because they are only sold as framesets. The beauty of that is you get to build them up however you like, but the downside is that it ends up costing a bit more. Lessons Learned from 29-er Mountain Bikes Thus far, I've learned a few things about 29-ers in general. Here are a few observations:
- Good 29-er designs will roll over everything and feel just as nimble as their 26-inch brethren. Make sure you find one with the lowest-possible center of gravity
- 29-ers aren't for beginning mountain bikers... you have to be a strong rider to take advantage of the larger wheel's momentum both climbing and descending
- While climbing, you have to stay ahead of the gear's natural cadence, otherwise you can easily lose all momentum when avoiding small obstacles
- You don't need as much suspension because the 29-inch wheels simply smooth everything out
Whenever you cruise through the streets of downtown San Francisco you can't help but see hipsters huffing up hills on fixed gear roadies. Of all the places where fixed gear bikes wouldn't take off, I would have thought it would be San Francisco because of the hills. But despite all odds, it has. And whether or not you are a hipster in SF trying to look cool, FixedGearGallery.com is the place to go drool over the cool bikes others have posted (I've added a couple to this post --- go to FixedGearGallery.com for many, many more). A true fixed gear bike has a direct connection between your legs and the speed of the bike -- no coasting. So if you are going faster, you have to keep your legs turning. If you are going slower, you pedal slower. Slowing down means using your legs to resist the inertia of the back tire --- emergency stops are made by locking your legs to make the back tire skid. In fact, the original fixed gear bikes were strictly for riding track -- no brakes, no gears. So to slow down, you just had to slow it down with the speed of your leg movements. But many say that expert roadies started taking track bikes out on the road because it helped them smooth out their pedaling. And from there who knows how it spiked as a trend in SF, but it has definitely been strong for a few years now. It's become so popular in fact, that Kona came out with a fixed gear road bike this year called the Paddy Wagon --- and it is really pretty cool (I added a pic or two of it to this article). Some of the things to love about fixies are: 1) Fewer parts to break, like derailleurs and such. And easier to repair when they do break. 2) Lighter weight. 3) You can turn any old chromoly road bike frame into a fixed gear bike pretty easily --- which I think is awesome, because it's cheaper and you can make it your own. 4) If your fixie is a thrift store revival, you can feel even more Puritan about your environmentalism -- not only are you biking instead of driving a gas-guzzling car, you are riding a bike that isn't brand new so you didn't put demand out for another bike to be produced. Because that would have meant more coal-powered energy to run welders, etc, to produce them. The carbon waste from the creation of your thrift store bike was sent into the atmosphere loooooong ago, so you really are using the first 2 of the 3 R's: Reduce & Reuse. So many people focus on Recycle, but the first two can make a huge impact too. 5) Some love the purism of it all --- just like telemark skiers won't ever say it's easier, but they will say that freeing the heel makes for a much more enjoyable turn than locking your heel down like with traditional alpine skis. But there are a couple of challenges inherent in riding a track bike: 1) If you get cut off when riding downtown, and don't have any brakes, it can turn into a bit of a challenge (to put it mildly). So lots of folks on fixies who ride them in urban situations have slapped at least a front brake on there. 2) If you are a true urban fixie hipster, you don't wear a helmet. You may wear one of those old school cycling caps with the small bill. But no helmet means that this whole fad could be very short-lived for you. 3) While fixies look cool, once you get on one you realize that going uphill is a real son-of-a-gun without any lower gears. 4) You will definitely smell of ripe BO by the time you get to the office (or to the Academy of Art University, which is where you tend to see whole congregations of these things locked to parking meters). Click here for good deals on inexpensive bike gear on Overstock.com....Read more...
One of the very coolest things about living in Salt Lake is being around tons of other people who moved here because there just isn't another place like it for accessibility to the outdoors. Yeah, Boulder is hip. Portland's got Hood and Hood River. And Seattle...well, it's got it's own world of cool. But if you want to get outdoors LOTS, then there's nothing like being 20-30 mins from Snowbird, Alta, Park City, Deer Valley, Brighton, etc, etc, etc, etc. And that's why lots of outdoorsy people congregate here in good old Utah. Folks like Bruce Tremper -- the guy who knows how to keep you safe in avalanche country. Or Kris Ostness, whose ski films are always the most innovative & immitated. Or the dudes from Backcountry.com, bringing the deals to every gear junkie. I crossed paths with just that type of guy last weekend -- Dave Pacheco, keeper of the Utah canyons. I was at the Venture Outdoors Festival that's in its 3rd year at Canyon Rim Park in Salt Lake. Black Diamond Equipment, Smith Sunglasses, and lots of others had set up tents and huge climbing walls for families to come enjoy. As I was strolling the booths, I walked up to Dave sitting at his table. He is the Founder of Utah Backcountry Volunteers -- an organization whose mission is "to improve the natural state of public lands in Utah by recruiting, organizing, and leading volunteers on work service trips." Utah Backcountry Volunteers leads these work service trips throughout Utah --- making them into excellent getaways where you don't just feel like you're trying to be as low-impact as possible in the wilderness. He takes it further --- while you're out there, take the time and sweat and effort to fix some broken things. Case in point: his trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to remove non-native Russion olive trees. They are pretty decorative trees that people introduced into Utah, and you'll sometimes find them in yards. But down in Escalante they are crowding out all of the young native trees, such as Cottonwood and Box Elder. On this trip you'll get to enjoy Escalante, but you'll also be doing some good with your time -- not just relaxing. And nothing makes you feel more invigorated than accomplishing something that matters. Helping that land remain the prize that it is. And enjoy the outdoors with other outdoorsy people while you're at it. Dave speaks about the needs of the land as though its a prized race horse that has been a little mistreated and neglected, and it's his job to make it a champion again. Like the remote backpacking trip to Dark Canyon Wilderness for trail maintenance. Or the trip to Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch Primitive Area in southeastern Utah to preserve some of the archealogical wonders in that area. The effort & labor required on the trips can vary from Moderate to Difficult or Vigorous. The cost is usually $100 bucks or so, includes food, and either covers a long weekend or can be extended to a full week. Adults only -- when you're scrambling around the wilderness you don't want to worry about entertaining kids (or keeping them out of trouble). Utah Backcountry Volunteers is associated with the Leave No Trace stewardship program, based out of Boulder. You can register for excursions and browse the trip schedule for Utah Backcountry Volunteers at: http://www.utahbackcountry.org/ It's beautiful living in Utah and enjoying these outdoors, and Dave Pacheco is one of those types who is helping us keep it that way....Read more...
I've always been a fan of the little guy. In this case, the "little" guy isn't so little anymore. While SRAM is looking to exceed $400 million in revenue year ending June 30, they are still far behind Shimano who according to the Boss Report is "on pace to sell more than $1 billion in cycling components this year." But at a handsome $400 million in revenue this family owned company is not looking to sell but will be looking to leverage the momentum they have to keep the growth machine going. To do this they've employed JP Morgan to help find an investor who is willing to come along for the ride.
A Little History on SRAMIf you've not been hearing about SRAM in one form or another then you've been living in a vanilla ice-cream world. Welcome to 31 flavors. Well, it's more like 2-3 depending if you're a roadie or a dirt digger. In the world of mountain biking SRAM really became top of its class when in 2001 it introduced X.0 which was touted as revolutionary and visionary. It's taken Shimano years to catch up and honestly I don't think they really have or will. I guess we'll see if the new Saint line can get them a step closer. For the roadie crowd 2006 may go down as the year of years. I'm not talking about the mess with the Tour de France, I'm talking about when SRAM launched its new road line. A short two years later, Alberto Contador wins last month's Giro d'Italia riding on SRAM Red while second place finisher Riccardo Ricco was also riding SRAM. In it's first Grand Tour this is an amazing finish for a product line that is less than two years old. Campagnolo and Shimano may not be shivering in their cleats but they will at least be taking notice of what went down this past week. So riding this momentum which has been building since it's launch in 1987 is exactly what SRAM is looking to do with finding an investor. Will they overtake Shimano one day? Hard to say, but I'm sure it'll be worth someone's money to give it a go.... Read more...
I'm a Subaru fan... have been for years. I love their cars because they are practical and can't be stopped in the snow. The Subaru Outback has been wildly successful in snowbelt areas and with mountain-folks alike. I'm sure most of their sales come from Utah, Colorado and Washington State, but with the release of the Impreza WRX earlier this decade, Subies are all the rage with the rice rocket crowd as well. Because Subaru owners are loyal (I've owned 5 of them), Subaru introduced the B9 Tribeca for the 2006 model year with the intent of wooing Subie owners who have outgrown their Outback wagons. The result has been less-than-stellar for the bottom-line of Subaru corporate. Sales have been sluggish because of the polarizing front-end styling. Some love it... others hate, hate, hate it. I fell into the LOVE IT camp because it was unique and different. I thought it made the B9 Tribeca stand out and it looked much sportier than Subies of the past. This styling was also mated to the last two years of the old Impreza body style. Again, I loved the aviator look on the Impreza. Apparently, the powers that be at Subaru have listened to the haters out there for the 2008 model year because they turned the Tribeca into a Chrysler Pacifica. All you haters... rejoice! Subaru has effectively turned the cool-looking Tribeca front-end into a Chrysler Pacifica. Take a look for yourself... the styling is eerily similar.
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2008 Subaru Tribeca (no more B9 necessary)
2008 Chrysler PacificaSo, all you haters can now be satisfied... you effectively took a unique and cool-looking vehicle and turned it into one of the most vanilla, "me too" vehicles on the road. I wouldn't be surprised if Subaru sells even fewer of the new Tribeca as a result. What are your thoughts? Am I completely off my rocker here? Did you like the old B9 Tribeca's styling or hate it?... Read more...
Apple is simultaneously admired and hated --- sometimes by the same people. On the one hand, their stuff is constantly cool. On the other, they are even less open than Microsoft. But one thing we can now agree on with Apple CEO Steve Jobs --- Teton Gravity Research rocks! At Macworld this year Steve Jobs was demonstrating AppleTV (which is definitely a piece of gear that I want to nab & review) which now allows you to rent movies right over your AppleTV...in HD...Dolby 5.1...all that jazz. No more slogging to the video store, or Redbox, or waiting for dvd's in the mail. And of course, you can watch podcasts....so which one does he pull up? An excerpt from Teton Gravity Research's film "Lost and Found". It's the part where Erik Roner ski-bases off Cajun Coulior. Siiiiiiick crazy base jumping video....and the crowd goes wild. Click here to check it out. You've gotta love Roner, and you've gotta love TGR. Roner did a "jump out of the Snowbird tram" spot this year too. What a classic! The type of guy who loves life, man. There is something sick about the Rockies, the Tetons, the Sierras, and the Cascades. These mountains breed killer riders with a laid back style, and a willingness to dedicate their lives to progressing the sport. Will every athlete be recognized in bright lights at Macworld? No. Will every rider who deserves it have a spot in a TGR film? Probably not. But those who do are hopefully doing it for the right reasons. Hopefully they are not just trying to get attention doing crazy things to make up for lack of recognition and emotional validation when they were kids. This moment where TGR crossed paths with Macworld really stood out to me as a simultaneously ironic and harmonious moment. Lately I've been reading the book "Affluenza" by Oliver James (the famous clinical psychologist from England). His main question in the book is "Why are we getting wealthier but not happier?" Basically, his studies have given some indications that there are much higher rates of depression & addiction among the wealthy English-speaking nations -- and that there is a much higher likelihood of suffering depression and addiction if you are driven to obtain wealth and fame/recognition for the "wrong" reasons. So the TGR/Macworld moment was ironic to me because on the surface you have a bunch of people whom some would call selfish capitalists that were in total awe of the feats of an individual like Erik Roner who was just doing what he loved. On the other hand perhaps the so-called selfish capitalists actually love what they do, and they are doing it for the "right" reasons. And maybe Roner is just doing crazy things because he is craving attention ---- so he's doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe he needs the approval of his peers and his sponsors and to see himself in TGR movies to feel good about himself. I dunno...it has been years since I spoke with Roner, and then it was only on occasional meetings so I can't really speak to his internal reasons for his drive to do what he does. For all I know, Steve Jobs does what he does not because he is a tyrant but because he loves technology. He loves producing beautiful pieces of technology that solve real problems. And perhaps Roner does what he does whether the cameras are rolling or not. If so, the moment was very harmonious...two kindred spirits. Steve Jobs admiring Roner, and maybe Roner also recognizes the art that Jobs produces. So call me naive, but I'm hoping that that's the case. I love TGR, and I confess an admiration for Apple products and for what Steve Jobs has built. So here's to both of them.... :)...Read more...
Depending on who you are, the word "ideal" evokes either thoughts of nobility and striving for good or it evokes thoughts of foolishness and a lack of realism. Frankly, I have to confess that lately I have been more in the latter camp. I guess I've often heard the phrase: "If you're under 30 and you're not a liberal you have no heart...but if you're over 30 and you're not a conservative you have no brain." Honestly I don't remember who that quote is from (Churchill?) and I hate that it seems more & more like reality to me...but I'm over 30 now and I think there's definitely a grain of truth in it. Coming from Seattle I can't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia when I think of hippies and Democrats, but being conservative-leaning I always try to see things through a practical lens. And just to make things more complicated ----- since I grew up spending every weekend in the Cascade mountains, I fell in love with what nature has to offer and I want to support those efforts that will ensure that we don't see it disappear. That's why I love the fact that sustainable, green living appears to be gaining in popularity among conservatives as well as among those sweet, nutty hippies who have always loved it just because it was an "ideal" they promoted. Sustainable living and green products are now becoming practical -- not premium. Case in point: my new favorite clothing company, Portland-based Nau which designs & sells very technical outdoor gear that is made entirely out of recycled materials...and sells for less than equivalent gear from other brands. It is a total win-win (and that's what I call IDEAL!). Check out our review of some of Nau's products to get an idea of the quality of gear they are producing. It is unreal, especially for the price. Sustainable green living used to require lots of effort and cost -- real, monetary cost -- to track down products that worked okay but cost way more than their more effective counterparts at the supermarket. While promoting an "ideal" was inspiring, it wasn't too practical. So it used to come down to what you're willing to sacrifice for. Organic vegetables that go bad in 2 days? Too expensive & annoying. Walking everywhere? Not realistic. Public transportation? Maybe if you live in New York or London where nothing beats the Tube. But when you have to connect 3 buses just to get to work, and it ends up turning a 15 minute drive into a 1 hour bus-connect marathon followed by a 20 minute walk, public transportation is definitely NOT ideal. But things appear to be hitting critical mass -- consumers are able to find green products not just because they are demanding it but because companies are finding it economical to provide the gear. Thank you Nau! I think getting onto a cheap renewable energy source is one of the most critical things facing this generation -- right up there with protecting us against terrorism. I know I'm no expert in political matters, but I just humbly think that we can do this. We can protect ourselves. And we can get ourselves onto renewable energy. Which will help protect ourselves, because we won't be giving a billion dollars a day to oil-producing nations that want to kill us. Which will help us be a beacon of hope in the world, because with cheap renewable energy we can more easily provide fresh water to those who need it --- by using that cheap energy to do saltwater desalination. Personally I think solar energy is one of our best bets. Sunlight is a plentiful and renewable source of energy, if we can just harness it. And I may be naive, but I can't think of significant downsides to it other than the real estate it would take to install & operate solar farms. But those should decrease as performance of solar cells increases. And that's the next piece in the story... I have been pleased to see the Utah-based Wasatch Venture Fund investing in solar energy. One of the companies it has invested in is the New Mexico-based Advent Solar, which manufactures solar cells and modules. My understanding is that solar cells are made mostly from silicone, which is one of the most plentiful resources on the planet. That silicone could capture sunlight (another very plentiful resource) and help us turn saltwater (another very plentiful resource) into fresh water (a very limited resource). I believe the reason solar hasn't really caught on in the past is that it isn't efficient -- it takes a whole roof full of solar cells capturing sunlight all day just to toast some bread. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point. But that's just an efficiency problem. It used to take a whole room full of computer processors (made out of -- you guessed it -- silicone) to run simple processes by today's standards. What changed? Moore's law and Intel. As many of you know, in 1965 Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel) predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double about every 2 years. Intel has delivered on that ever since then --- meaning that the same real estate of processor size was able to pound out more & more performance. Click here to read more about Moore's Law and Intel's application of it. So, my stupid little brain thinks: "Wow. Double the performance very 2 years? While decreasing costs? Using silicone? Isn't that what we need to happen with solar energy? Double the output of energy per square inch of solar cells every 2 years, while using silicone and decreasing the cost of those solar cells. Pretty soon a single solar cell on your roof will capture enough energy during 1 hour of sunlight to power your home & cars for a week." Heck, if you could do that then everyone would drive electric cars with solar panels on the roof, would have homes with solar panels on the roof, and out in the Utah desert you'd have a solar farm with enough panels to power all the public transportation you could want. No more money going to the Middle East for oil. They may have sun & silicone, but we aren't in shortage of that elsewhere. And with all that cheap solar energy you could power water desalination plants to provide fresh water to those who need it. So that's my thinking on green sustainable living. Peace, progress, and water for all. But then again I may just be getting nostalgic for my Washington State roots, so you'll have to forgive me for shooting for an "ideal."...Read more...
Now, on GEAR.com we are all about the gear we love. But sometimes it's tough to separate the gear we love from the sports, athletes, and activities we love. So this article is about Steven Nyman, ski racer for Fischer Skis and an amazing athlete on the US Ski Team. Steven Nyman is a rising US Ski Team star, and even if he never had another podium finish we would still be stoked to call him a real Utah hero. And as it stands, he already has succeeded in getting a lot of folks thrilled with ski racing again. But it doesn't stop there -- there is a BIG runway in front of him in ski racing. Steven Nyman grew up skiing Utah's snowy mountains at Sundance Ski Resort. Steven's parents Scott & Becky ran the ski school at this boutique Utah resort owned by actor Robert Redford. I count my slow butt lucky to have spent some training time on Mt. Hood's racing lanes with Steven, his parents, siblings, and friends when I skied in college. He was a young kid, but he kicked my butt decidedly. And ever since then I have been quite in awe of the Nyman family expertise that has shaped some great American ski racers like Skip Merrick and others. Steven's career has seen a terrific rise over the past few years. He was picked for the Junior Worlds in Italy in 2002 and immediately had two podium finishes (won slalom, 2nd in combined). That got him going on the US Ski Team, and then in 2007 he had his first World Cup win (1st in Downhill, Gardena/Groden). That DH win got EVERYONE's attention in the racing world, and this year he is not disappointing. In the 2007/2008 season Steven has finished in the top 20 in 3 key races -- including a 2nd place finish at the Birds of Prey Downhill in Colorado. Not only that, he is consistent across 4 or 5 different racing disciplines. Many would say that he is a real threat to capture the Overall World Cup Globe in the future. Wow...that would be an amazing achievement for any skier. History-making for a US skier. There is a lot you can say about ski racing for good and for bad. And there is certainly controversy, ego, and some prickly personalities. But one thing I love about Steven Nyman is that he appears to be turning into a real hero that a parent can feel good about his kids emulating. He has been involved in many charitable efforts including A Child's Hope Foundation and has traveled to Haiti to support the charity. He also is a great influence on young children right at home in Utah, and does it all with apparent sincerity. That's a real hero. Since this is GEAR.com, let me list out his main gear sponsors below: - Fischer Skis - POC (optics, armour, and other ski race gear) - Spyder ski gear - Swix...Read more...
Before you head out for your next bike ride, trail run, or backcountry ski tour, be sure and inspect your gear. For some reason, Gremlins seem to really like to mess around with my gear when it sits in my Camelbak or ski pack for a few days. Maybe it's just my curious daughter who pulls the batteries out of my avalanche beacon for her Elmo doll or something, I don't know. And, something you don't think about, but may want to... Ask the liftie if you can inspect the chairlift prior to loading. Not doing so at Aspen Mountain, could subject you to a sudden 10-foot drop that might ruffle your one-piece Bogner. Read News Story Luckily, it sounds as if the deposited skier was sporting twin-tips because he schussed away to safety as his Bogner one-piece cohorts hung on for dear life. So, the next time you board a chairlift, here's some advice:
- Ask the liftie for a chair inspection prior to boarding - you might piss off everyone though, so have a good explanation
- Maybe you should give up chairlifts altogether and just ride in the backcountry
- Buy some twin-tip skis so you can drop that 10-footer like Shane McConkey and keep on riding!