Our picks for the best gear of last year.
Prepare for the cold! We run done our picks for the best base layers around.
The Paddle Junkie crew spent 4 days wandering the halls of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City to find the coolest gear released at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. This is what we found.
7 Guys, 6 Days, 150+ pieces of Gear... More fun than could be imagined.
Our top picks from all our reviews of 2011.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Overall, these boots would make a great gift for anyone that is looking for a cold weather adventure either in town or on the trail.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
This fleece on the other hand is built to battle the elements. Helly Hansen been one of the top names in rain wear for years. Fans of "The Deadliest Catch" will recognize the HH logo since just about every guy on deck is sporting Helly gear. Braving bone chilling cold and rolling seas is no place for "B" quality gear.
I know there are a million fleece jackets on the market. You will be hard pressed to find one as well built or as up to a challenge as this one though. Helly Hansen build bomber gear. You will never see me on the deck of a crab boat, I may be a little goofy but those guys are NUTS. But if you are looking for a "field test", can you get a more hostile environment? Helly is doing it right and I'm not the only one that thinks so...
Monday, December 19, 2011
Beyond making a lumberjack quality chopping tool, the folks at Best Made Co make axes with style too. Their line-up of painted handles makes these axes just at home in a NYC art gallery as they are in the hands of Paul Bunyan himself. From the nautically inspired to vivid stains, the colors and designs make ordinary extraordinary.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
The race was a lot of fun, and more than half the obstacles involved water-filled trenches. This was no problem, for the soles of these trail shoes have a metallic grid that both functions to let water easily flow out, but prevents rocks and pebbles from getting in. The Baffins did not get water-logged and squishy like the running shoes on the course. The padding in the fabric of the shoe and the rubber-wrapped toes protected my feet as I slammed them against climbing walls, rocky slopes, and the unseen rocks in the murky trenches.
My one issue with these kicks during the race was that I almost lost one of them a couple times wading through waist-deep mud. I pulled over and tightened the laces, which helped, but I think a velcro strap would really do the trick.
|The Baffin Amazons can take a beating|
Thursday, December 15, 2011
MSRP: $119.95 (75 Liter "Medium)
$139.95 (100 Liter "Large")
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I have been using the Eco 2 Go Mug for a few months and I love it. It keep my java hot for hours. I have yet to spill this thing, and trust me that has to be some kind of record. It looks like a normal cup from your local coffee house, and it isn't plastered with advertising so you aren't a walking billboard for anyone. Nothing too fancy, just a great mug that does its job well... MSRP: $8.99
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
As a sprinter (ok, it was a while ago) I tend to run on the balls of my feet more than a traditional distance runner. This made the transition to the Newtons a bit easier for me than others I have talked to. Tailored to the "Land-Lever-Lift" running style where heel strikes are all but eliminated, the Newtons are designed for a mid to fore-foot strike. Initially you can't help but feel like these things are forcing you to walk on your tippy-toes.
The first couple of times I took these out, I kept it under 3 miles and trust me, that was plenty. Day 1 I was about a mile in and I thought my calves were going to burst into flames. After a few more sessions, it was substantially better. I can that feel my lower legs and even my feet seem to be stronger.
Beyond the anatomical differences these shoes offer, they are incredibly well constructed. Built for off-road use, they can manage any trail near my home with ease. Head down the sidewalk and the bright green and yellow mesh will turn heads while keeping the elements at bay. Turn off onto a rocky path and the gnarly traction will keep your feet planted where you put them.
All in all, these shoes changed how I run. It took a little time to transition, but I feel faster and stronger than I have in a pair of trainers in years. When the summer months roll back in, I'm looking forward to putting a few more miles on these...
Here are some videos from Newton to help you navigate this new world of running shoes...
Monday, December 12, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The Bluetooth Tags from Outdoor Technology are the solve to my situation. I can hit play on my iPod, lock the thing up tight, stow it away in my pack and listen "wirelessly" from up to 45 feet from the source. I say "wirelessly" because even thought the ear buds are not tethered to the iPod with a wire, the two buds themselves are connected to each other by a wire. That said, they literally change how you think about headphones. With the wire running around the back of my neck while in use, the odds of getting tangled in it is nearly zero. With controls for volume and playback as well as a microphone and call answering capabilities, taking the actual iPod outta my pocket is almost never necessary.
Whether you are mowing the grass, shredding a mountain or putting miles on your bike, the benefits of being able to stash your phone/iPod anywhere and still use it just plain rules. The sound quality is really good. We are not talking DJ headphone quality, but they will rival just about any buds I have ever tried. They come with three different pairs of pads for the tips of the buds, so you can tailor them to fit your ear. They stay in place well, and add in the over-the-ear sport clips and they are going nowhere.
On the downside, you do kinda look like "Mr. Bluetooth Guy" waiting for the power conference call while you are in line for the chairlift. But once I got past that, I was back in love with these things. When not in use the tags hang around your neck and resemble a pair of dog tags, thus the name. I have to admit, I wear them like this all the time and I never seem to lose them, which is NOT NORMAL.
I get about 5 hours of life out of each charge, I just wish I could find more days to actually get to listen to tunes for 5 straight hours. That'd be nice...
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|Electric's R.I.D.S. Peter Line EG2 Goggles|
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
While roaming the halls of the Outdoor Retailer trade show, I stumbled across a group of folks walking, bouncing and generally having a good time on what looked like a cross between a balance beam and a high wire. The tricks and shear athletic ability of these people were impressive. After a little proding from the group, I gave it a try. Yup, just as I thought, not as easy as it looks. Since that time I have had one strung up between two trees in the back yard and countless hours of fun have been had by many.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Blend in a narrower beam, long water-line and a sharp keel and you have a smooth paddling, long gliding boat that will make any novice paddler feel like a pro. With more rocker than a rec style kayak, tighter turns and generally better handling is immediately noticeable.
So, whether you are fighting your way outta the dog house, or just looking to feed a passion, the new Rip series from Necky will surely put a smile on someone's face. I'm just not sure how the heck you'll fit it under the tree...
Pick up a Rip 10 or 12 between now and December 24th and get a free $50 Visa Giftr Card. Click HERE for details.
Monday, December 5, 2011
The Big Horn Pants from Woolrich bring style and comfort to wool trousers unlike anything you will find from a pair of wool work pants. I have been sporting a pair for a few weeks and they are simply too cool. They are a bit lighter weight than I initially expected, but still cut the cold as you would expect while being comfortable enough for indoor use. They are lined with satin to the knees, so you get no itchy legs.
Available in both "Olive" and "Slate" these are not some boring monochromatic colors. They are varied and have a depth that you don't find in ordinary wools. I am sure these will make an excellent addition to your guy's wardrobe.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Have a hunter on your list? The Mossy Oak's are a winner. They can be comfortable and stealthy at the same time... Brilliant!
Believe me when I say, these are a "can't miss" gift this Holiday Season. I will have several pairs wrapped up under my tree, now let the family start guessing who the lucky ones will be...
Friday, December 2, 2011
Style and performance in a tight package. These shades from Maui Jim may not have been my first choice from an aesthetic perspective, but after wearing them for a while, I realized that they provide EPIC protection. The full shield design of the lens stop any stray light from sneaking in. More than just the light they keep the rest of Mother Nature's assaults at bay as well; wind, rain and snow have been no challenge.
Armed with the Maui HT (High Transmission) lens technology, early mornings on the water and sunset runs are no longer an issue. They were designed for situations where most lenses would be too dark, and put an end to the on-again off-again, back and forth you normally deal with.
Hitting the slopes on an overcast afternoon? These are ready to play. The fit is about as good as it gets. They stay glued to your face thanks to the design of the arms and the super sticky nose pad.
WARNING Highly Scientific Testing: I stuck my head out the window of my truck at 60 MPH to see what would happen. These things didn't wiggle and I could see perfectly. Tears would have been streaming down my face with most normal glasses, if they didn't blow off completely.
It is no secret that I have a sunglass obsession and Maui Jim is on my uber-short list. From the design of the frames to the lens material, you are hard pressed to find anything better.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
If like me, you live in a part of the world where temperatures plummet this time of year, then the term Base Layer is nothing new. Neither is Hot Chilly's. They are the #1 selling base layer in winter sports. I remember having a Hot Chilly's sherpa lined sweatshirt back in the late 1980's and what I remember is it was flat out hot. When I was heading to the local snowboard locale, and it was gonna be freezing, that sweatshirt was the first thing I found.
Fast forward about 20 years and everything I remember about their stuff is still true. Only now the styling and materials of their Second Layer gear is cool enough to be outerwear. I have been testing the Cabo Full Zip Fleece Hoody and it blows most other fleece jackets out of the water. It may not be the lightest or most packable, but that is not what we are going for here. In my experience, most fleeces are comfortable down to about 40-45 degrees, not the Cabo Fleece. Last night I stepped outside at about 11:00pm to investigate the sound of freezing rain hitting the windows. At only 21 degrees I was perfectly comfortable in the Cabo Hoody. This WOULD NOT happen with any other fleece in my closet.
If I had to find a complaint it would be that the two pockets are set back a little too far. I find myself searching for the opening often. As temps drop even further and this jacket goes from outerwear to second layer that will be less of an issue.
I HATE being cold, and this hoody will help me fight that battle this winter. I am betting this will be a regular choice for me from now until the end of May... Plus, the people over at Hot Chilly's are a pretty cool, laid-back bunch. With a motto like "Make life a Fiesta", how can they not be?