Our Favorite Gear From OR, Part 2

Here’s our second batch of favs from the recent OR show in Salt Lake City.

goTenna

goTenna

The goTenna ($150 for two) was probably the most innovative device we saw at OR and we suspect lots of people will be using them outdoors very soon.

GoTenna pairs with your iPhone or Android via Bluetooth and allows users to communicate with other goTenna users via text even if there's no cell service or wifi.

To do this, goTenna uses long-range radio waves. The company says the range depends greatly on the surrounding terrain, but in ideal conditions they can work up to 50 miles apart.

To be clear, goTenna does not allow a user to communicate with a regular cell phone. But they're affordable, so the expectation is that if you need to communicate, you make sure the person you want to talk to has one of the devices as well.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX

Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX

Kilian Jornet hepled designed the new S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX ($300) mountaineering shoe from Salomon. That says a lot right there.

Jornet is famous for taking just a couple hours to run up mountains that take normal people days to climb. The bar he sets is silly high.

He wants The S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX on his feet because they're super lightweight but can take a crampon. They also have a Gore-Tex liner to keep him dry, an integrated gaiter, and enough insulation to keep him comfy all the way down to 20 degrees.

We're not Kilian Jornet. But we very much look forward to testing these to see just how fast we can move when we're not being held back by a heavy pair of mountaineering boots.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Big Agnes mtnGLO tent lights

Big Agnes mtnGLO tent lights

Big Agnes's mtnGLO line of tents ($200-$600) made us have one of those "why the heck didn't we think of that" moments.

What they've done is sew a lightweight string of LEDs into the lining of various tent, so instead of having to turn on your headlamp, you just turn on your tent. The lights weigh almost nothing, give off enough light so you can get ready for bed, and have a super long running time on just two double A batteries.

Big Agnes is also selling a string of lights that you can add to your normal tent, pictured here.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Osprey Aura AG

Osprey Aura AG

"Revolutionize" is a word we like to stay away from. But it's appropriate here because Osprey has indeed revolutionized the pack with their new Anti-Gravity Suspension system, featured in the Atmos AG and Aura AG ($260 for the 65L version).

What the company has done is build a suspension system that literally wraps around your body like someone hugging you. Instead of having to make tons of adjustments to get the pack to conform to your body, this suspension system does it for you. You still have to adjust some straps for the perfect fit, but we've never used a pack that felt so comfortable, right from the start.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Black Diamond Ember Power Light

Black Diamond Ember Power Light

The Ember Power Light from Black Diamond will permanently live in our hiking and backpacking kits. Permanently.

There's nothing groundbreaking here, but BD has smartly mashed a flashlight with a USB charger, combining two of the most important things we rely on out in the woods.

And knowing BD, this thing will be reliable and last forever.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Therm-a-Rest EvoLite

Therm-a-Rest EvoLite

The EvoLite mattress ($120) from Therm-a-Rest caught our attention because it's a hybrid. It uses alternating foam and air channels to reduce the weight of traditional foam mattresses while amplifying loft. All told there are two inches of loft, which means you'll have an extra-comfy pad that's also plenty light (1 lb. 1 oz) and plenty packable.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Salewa Speed Ascents

Salewa Speed Ascents

As you can see from the photo, the Salewa Speed Ascents ($140) have camber. Or put more plainly, they're bent in the toe and heal.

This curved, or rockered design, is for people who are running up or down hills because it helps the shoe meet the angle of the hill more head on, ensuring better traction.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly


Our Favorite Gear From OR, Part 1

OR Summer Market

OR Summer Market

Dentists have conventions. Tech geeks have conventions. Gun lovers have lots of conventions.

None of these other conventions, however, can hold a candle to Outdoor Retailer, the twice-annual outdoor industry gathering at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. That's because no one knows how to have fun like outdoor lovers. The people who show up to OR throw themselves off cliffs or freeze their asses off in the mountains for fun, so when they get together it goes off.

We recently spent a couple days at OR drinking beer, not sleeping enough and looking at the products brands will be releasing for next summer. There were thousands of new gadgets being pitched, but here's a gallery featuring the products we're most excited about and look forward to testing when the prototypes become production models.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Smith Overtake

Smith Overtake

Here's why we love the new $250 Overtake road helmet from Smith.

It uses Koroyd (those tubular things you see in the vents), a breathable material the company claims offers 30 percent more impact protection than traditional EPS.

It's super aerodynamic. Almost as aerodynamic as the Specialized Evade, which is a big deal because the Evade is considered an industry leader in aerodynamics.

It's beautiful.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Mio FUSE

Mio FUSE

The $179 Mio FUSE does a lot of things that we care about. Most importantly, it's a heart rate monitor on your wrist that's ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible so it will sync with devices like the Garmin 1000. Be gone annoying heart rate monitor across your chest.

The FUSE is also a performance monitor that will track your steps, calories, pace, speed and distance, so you can get rid of your other, inferior fitness tracker.

We appreciate it when companies find a way to combine multiple devices into one and look forward to riding, running and living with the FUSE on our wrist.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Arc'teryx Alpha2 FL

Arc'teryx Alpha2 FL

Arc'teryx makes bad ass jackets, packs and harnesses. Now they make hella nice shoes as well.

They'll be rolling out eight models next year, but the crème de la crème is the low-cut approach Alpha2 FL ($270), which works a lot like a ski boot, with a shell and a swappable Gore-Tex liner. The shoe comes standard with a low-cut spring/summer liner that’s more breathable, but people can also buy a high-cut winter liner that's insulated.

In addition to swapability, liners are also a smart feature because they offer better waterproofing, are washable, and dry faster.

The shell of the shoe is made using lamination, which means there's no stitching. No stitching means you can beat the shoe up even more than your regular pair of hikers and they'll be just fine.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Eddie Bauer BC Cubed Jacket

Eddie Bauer BC Cubed Jacket

Light is definitely right in the outdoor industry these days. Everyone is making a super feathery shell that packs down to nothing but offers plenty of protection for when the winds start whipping or the rain starts falling.

What sets the Eddie Bauer BC Cubed ($499) apart is that it's more durable. So you get an ultra lightweight jacket that you beat the crap out of.

It's tough because it's built with Cuben Fiber Laminate, a non-woven material made of Dyneema fibers. And Dyneema, by weight, is much stronger than steel.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Hydro Flask Beer Pint

Hydro Flask Beer Pint

Hydro Flask has taken its double wall vacuum insulated technology and applied it to the beer pint ($21.99).

Hell yes.

If you've ever used one of their other products, you know just how well they work, so we look forward to enjoying icy-cold beers all the way to the last sip.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Nau Acoustic Short

Nau Acoustic Short

Nau makes some of the nicest commuter stuff on the market and we can't wait to pedal around in the new Acoustic short ($130).

The shorts are made from a softshell material with a DWR finish, which means they're comfortable, have a nice range of motion, and won't soak out when the rain starts falling.

In terms of design, the Acoustic shorts are clean and understated, which is exactly what we want when we're out cruising around on our way to the local pub.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

adidas Outdoor X King

adidas Outdoor X King

The Outdoor X King mountain running shoes from adidas are just prototypes and in possible development for Spring 16.

They grabbed our attention because outsole is made from Continental's well-known and well-loved X King mountain bike tires. The shoe also features seamless welding, which insures durability.

If these shoes perform under our feet like the tires perform on a bike, they could quickly become a cult favorite.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly


Adventures With Lulu: Osprey Poco Premium Child Carrier

Photo by: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly
Photo by: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

I’ve told myself I won’t be one of those dads. You know, the pushy kind where I expect my kids to love my hobbies with the same passion. That said, I’m not going to shy away from encouraging them to tag along, either.

At the moment my daughter Lulu is about a year old and I’ve started taking her out on some of my more mellow adventures. Last  month we went up to the Sandia Mountains, which sit just outside Albuquerque where I live, and went for a hike. She can’t walk so I carried her in the Poco Premium child carrier from Osprey, which is about as plush as child carriers come. She gets a safe and comfy ride thanks to a smart and well-padded child “pocket,” and I can carry her in comfort thanks to a well-designed yoke that makes sure most of her weight sits on my hips instead of my back.

There are a plethora of pockets, plus a zip off pack which will hold a myriad of necessary child accessories, like bottles, binkies and bags of Cheerios.

This pack aint cheap, but you should be able to get a couple of solid years of use out of it. Making it a good investment for both you and your little one. And the bag is rated for a not so little one approaching the 30 and 40 pound range.

The best part is that Lulu loved it. She cooed and laughed the whole time and we have already planned more adventures.

The Scoop:

  • Carries well
  • Plenty of pockets for all the baby essentials
  • Lulu loved it
Photo by: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

Alpinestars CR-4 Gore-Tex XCR Motorcycle Boots

Tackling the Bolivian Death Road wearing the CR4 boot from Alpinestars.
Photo: Alex Washburn/Element.ly

My boyfriend and I recently rode our motorcycles from California to Ushuaia, Argentina. Our route was roughly 15,000 miles through every kind of terrain and environment imaginable.

For the trip I had a lot of gear choices to make, but one of the most important was what boots I was going to use. I needed something that would stand up to every possible weather condition and thousands of miles of wear and tear.

After weeks of reading online reviews and consulting with more experienced riders, I found and bought the Alpinestars CR-4 Gore-Tex XCR Boots. Alpinestars classifies the CR-4 as a ‘tech touring’ boot, with a slightly more flexible sole and a shorter shaft. Meaning they don’t provide as much protection as a motocross boot.

This suited me just fine because I figure I needed something that offered some protection but would also allow me to hop off the bike and go for a walk without my feet being reduced to a bloody mess of blisters.

During the trip these boots were with me as I scaled a volcano in Nicaragua, navigated rivers in Costa Rica and crashed while off roading in Colombia. They kept me dry in rainstorms and dried out quickly after each river crossing. What I really appreciated, though, was their performance in the Andes during the late fall.

The ride through the Andes was one of, if not the coldest experience of my life. I wore every layer of clothing I had under my riding suit, doubled up on gloves, and kept my hand grip warmers turned on high the entire time. Even then, I couldn’t ride more than 10 minutes without loosing feeling in my hands. My feet, however, were a different story. On the coldest days there was a slight discomfort, but for the most part my toes stayed happy with the minimal addition of ski socks.

The Elements

  • Great riding boots, but you can also climb volcanoes in them as well
  • They keep the water out and the heat in
  • Held up over 15,000 miles of abuse on a motorcycle
Boot_CR4_001
Photo: Alex Washburn/Element.ly

Chamonix, France is a Trip

Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo
Kitsbow Ride T-Topo

I say Chamonix is a “trip” because you need to vist. It’s one of the most beautiful spots on earth. The town itself is lovely, and it’s surrounded by the towering Alps.

I also say it’s a trip, as in “what a crazy place, man,” because it’s unlike any other city I’ve ever visited. At times it seems like there are more people walking around in glacier boots than tennis shoes. Bright-colored Gore-Tex jackets are the standard uniform.

That’s because the town is an outdoor Mecca. A cable car leaves straight from town and in just a few minutes hauls passengers several thousand feet to an expansive glacier right below the 15,781 ft Mont Blanc. Up top, people have access to all sorts of world-class climbing and skiing routes and thousands of people take advantage of the easy access each year. If skiing or climbing isn’t your thing, the area has also become a favorite for trail runners.

There are several towns here in the United States that are known for attracting an outdoor crowd; Boulder, Salt Lake City, Bend, etc., but none of these towns can hold a candle to the pure density of outdoor enthusiasts that you’ll find in Chamonix.


The Goatheads of Albuquerque

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Photo by: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

I like to sneak away for a lunch ride once or twice a week. It clears my head and makes me feel better about the occasional cervesa. The rides always end up rushed, though, because I need to get out, put in 20, and get back to the grind.

Hurrying tends to causes problems. For example, in my rush to kit up last week I forgot to throw my pump in my back pocket. And as you would expect I got five miles into my ride and flatted, thanks to one of Albuquerque’s notorious goatheads.

These ultra-tough, multi-barded stickers are a huge nuisance for riders here in the Land of Enchantment. They’re everywhere. They grow on a weed that likes the dry, hot climate. They will go through almost anything if you hit em just right. Even the Stan’s in my tube was no match for this thorn.

My first stop was the local Albuquerque police substation just a few hundred feet up the road. I was hoping there were bike cops. Unfortunately, I ran head-long into a grouchy secretary who claimed all the bike cops were gone.

I then called my mother-in-law for a ride, but she was at tennis. I called my father-in-law, but he didn’t answer. My regular riding partner was in the middle of a photo shoot and my brother (I’ll remember this bro) said he was busy.

Running out of time, and losing my patience, I called a cab. They arrived in 10 minutes and shuttled me and my poor bike back to the house.

It was a $15 dollar mistake I’ll never make again.

Finger crossed.

JAKOB_FLAT
Photo by: Jakob Schiller/Element.ly

From SFO to Italy With a Thule Bike Bag

20140721_thule-pro_0025

Wheeling your whip up to the airport check-in counter seems more harrowing than any mountain pass. I feel less in control of my bike than at any other time in my cycling life. How much are they going to charge me? Did I pack securely enough? Will my ride arrive in one piece or fifty?

Of all the things that could go wrong, trusting my two-wheel to the Thule RoundTrip Pro 100501 does not seem to be one of them. Their new soft sided, airport-approved, wheel-equipped wonder bag seems to be just enough and not too much at the same time.

I recently put it to best kind of test during a trip from San Francisco to Italy and still can’t believe how smoothly the whole thing went. It was a breeze to pack up because Thule includes a mobile “repair stand,” which you use to take apart and reassemble the bike. The stand is not a place I would want to do anything but the most simple of tasks, but it came in super handy for a last minute derailleur adjustment. It packs nicely into the rest of the bag for transport and gets the job done.

Beyond the fact that the bag kept my ride safe, I also like it because it rolls up and can be stuffed into a corner of the garage when not in use. That’s a real asset for someone who loves bikes, biking, travel and travel biking, but has a limited amount of space.

Just remember, although the Thule worked flawlessly for me on my international trip, and even though those lovely baggage folks went through the bag like a pack of gorillas and got grease on things which were not intended to be lubed, this thing is not ready for the riggers of actual shipping via UPS or FedEx. So don’t try.

The Elements:

  • Soft-sided bike case that gets your whip to where you are going with minimal hassle
  • Everything is thought out, from how the zippers allow one side to flop open to how the legs of the repair stand help add strength to the sides of the bag
  • Roll on up to the ticket counter and try your luck
Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.lt
Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

My Love Affair with Campagnolo

Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
I can’t stop wearing their logos, even though I haven’t ridden a Campagnolo gruppo in years.

I have a love-hate relationship with Campagnolo.

I haven’t ridden a Campy-equipped bicycle since I gave my Eddy Merckx Century TSX to my brother over 15 years ago. That beautiful piece of history had Delta Brakes, Record downtube shifters and Campagnolo’s aero seatpost. I loved that bike, but it shifted like ass, those brakes took their sweet ass time to slow you down and was heavier than a huffy beach cruiser.

I still long for the days when Campy dominated the tour and outpaced Shimano on just about every riders lust list. But alas, now they are a distant third behind Shimano and SRAM in market share. Hell, it is almost impossible to find a bike shop these days with a Record or Super Record-equipped bike on the showroom floor. Which is sad, considering they are back in the game on all fronts but availablity.

Campagnolo’s newest offerings are bejeweled and, by all accounts, work flawlessly. But I wouldn’t know. Haven’t ridden the new grouppos. I’ve had the pleasure of holding them in my hand, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I still buy Campagnolo t-shirts and for the brief period of time they tried to get into the apparel market, I bought some of their kit. And I cheer for Vincenzo  Nibali, not because I am fan of the horribly ugly kit he wears, or because he is stunningly good looking, or because I am tired of the Froome/Contador story, but because he rides Campagnolo like the great Tour riders of old.