$500-$999

Have it your way

Face Value: Martenero Watches

Martenero is an affordable new brand based in New York. Founders John Tarantino and Matt O’Dowd met several years back in a chance encounter on a street corner in Madrid, Spain. A friendship followed, and so did a watch brand.

Gear for the jungle and the reef

Kit: Underwater and Underground in Belize

Packing for a tropical getaway usually only involves deciding what color swim trunks to pack. But when your plans include jungle hiking, cave exploration and scuba diving, things get a little more complicated. The key is versatility -- you need gear that works underground or underwater just as well as it does topside. For our week in Belize we made sure everything we took did more than just one thing well. This saved space in our luggage and let us be nimble yet well prepared. Here’s a sampling of what we took.

Gear for the diehard winter rider

Kit: Fat Bike Racing

Fat bikes can effortlessly glide over snowy conditions like a set of snowshoes, and they’re cushy enough for riding in frigid temps without shattering your frozen tuchus. But the bike can only take you so far. Staying warm and dry -- and returning home with all your fingers and toes -- requires the right set of gear for when the weather decides to take a serious turn for the worse. These winter fat biking essentials will help you battle the worst Mother Nature can throw your way.

Less Space, More Power

Kit: The Perfect Machine-Free Home Gym

Twenty years ago a home gym required an entire basement. This was ridiculous. Our ideas about fitness have progressed in breadth and scope -- generally toward functional workouts that have real-world application -- and the equipment required has diminished in size and price. If you’re looking to set up the perfect home gym that gives you the opportunity for a huge variety of exercises, it helps to have a few more tools in your kit.

Adventure-ready multifunction watches

Multifunction Tool Watches for the 21st Century

Mechanical diver's and pilot’s watches may have been indispensable instruments for explorers in decades past, but nowadays, state-of-the-art wristwatches have shifted toward lightweight, battery-powered and largely digital pieces. These are wrist-top computers, designed for wear during mountaineering, skiing, sailing, surfing and flying. We rounded up six of the best for your next adventures.

A board meeting you want to be part of

Best Snowboards of 2014

Nostalgia is an attractive creature, and we often find ourselves getting sentimental over microbrews about our gear of yore and cool vintage finds. But like the skis we came across in Park City, neither the Snurfer nor the Burton Backhill were performance decks. Nobody back in the day was talking about carbon and kevlar layup or cambered medley -- not sober, anyway. Today the construction materials and technology that go into snowboard making produce rides for every body type, terrain and personal preference. These five boards are some of the finest in each category.

Be cool, not cold

Kit: Cold Weather Riding Gear

Warm sunny days are still several weeks away at least -- and yet taking your motorcycle out for a few "pre-season" blasts can be a joyous, refreshing experience. At 55 mph a simple flip of your visor is like downing a triple-shot of your favorite espresso; at eighty-five it's even better. Hell, a simple whiff of spring air mixed with just a touch of exhaust is enough to give you the stamina of Sting -- provided you’ve prepared. We've lined up our own personal arsenal for your cold-weather-riding pleasure.

Heads-Up on the Hill

Tested: Oakley Airwave 1.5

In 2012, Oakley partnered with Recon Instruments, maker of groundbreaking Heads-up Display (HUD) technology, to create the Airwave goggle and bring data and entertainment right into the wearer’s field of view, a la Minority Report. The second generation Oakley Airwave 1.5 ($649) launched at the end of 2013 with improvements across the board. We got our hands on a pair to test while shredding pow in Revelstoke, BC.

Bigger is Better

New Year’s Resolutions: Five 4K Displays You Can Actually Afford

Now that the content is beginning to arrive and prices are right, it’s time for consumers and video professionals to use 4K monitors. A whole crop of 4K displays have been announced by all the big names in electronics (save for one...we're waiting on you, Cupertino), and the variety combined with esoteric naming conventions can lead any well-minded consumer to bouts of madness. We’re here to help. Here are our five favorites that you can actually afford.

Weatherproof Jackets for the slopes and otherwise

Shelling Out: 10 Best Winter Sports Hardshells

There’s no such thing as bad weather -- only bad gear. And in the age of industrial manufacturing and waterproof fabrics, there’s no good excuse for bad gear. Modern hardshell jackets are designed to provide a first layer of defense between you and the elements, whether “the elements” are an alpine whiteout or an afternoon thunderstorm. They’re the crown jewel of any outdoor kit: they’ll keep you warm, they’ll keep you dry, and most of them weigh less than a pair of blue jeans.

Bound for Success

Locked In: 5 Best Ski Bindings

Bindings often go overlooked in favor of the flashiness of a new pair of skis or boots. But as your only contact point for control and power transfer along the 170-180cm boards you’re strapping on, and your final line of safety in a major crash, they’re the most important piece of gear for a successful and safe season. Read on for a breakdown of the best ski bindings for this season.

Two Boards Good

Mountain Chargers: 5 Best Skis of 2014

A new pair of skis is more than just a new piece of expensive gear: it’s an investment in winter stoke. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stone cold powder hound or a retired gate-crashing racer, we’ve got five pairs of skis to cover your needs this season.

Portable, with Power to Spare

No Strings Attached: Best Cordless Power Tool Combo Kits

We tackled a variety of chores, from the simplest deck demolition to re-framing the interior of a house, to help you choose the right path for your cordless cash. Here are our picks for the cordless power tool kits -- including a drill/driver of some sort, a circular saw and a reciprocating saw -- that do it best, along with notes on each individual tool.

Spin City

Cycling Trainers for All Budgets

The end of everyday outdoor cycling weather creates a fork in the road: some choose to move to a winter regimen that builds on the past year; others veer off to partake in holiday cheer and return to riding when the snow melts. While we’re no strangers to mulled wine and a sweater with reindeer on it, we know from experience that breaking for winter makes having a strong race season much more difficult. Rather than risking disaster on icy roads, consider one of these indoor trainers to keep pedaling through the off-season.

Always Be Closing

Kit: Power Lunch

The present state of business prizes efficiency above all else: large outputs from small teams, multitasking, checking email while jogging, jogging while conference calling, working vacations. In this paradigm a leisurely lunch gums up the works. But the reality is that a face-to-face over charred ribeyes and bone-dry martinis can replace a week’s worth of email exchanges. One good single-pump handshake and a knowing smile is good for a billion retweets. The power lunch, like the double-breasted suit, is not back: it never went away. To do it right you’ll need a few accoutrements, which you’ll find right here. We’ll see you at Dorsia.

Deep and Deeper

Want This, Get This: IWC Aquatimer or Steinhart Ocean Two

If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. With IWC's Aquatimer due for a refresh at January's SIHH, we bid it farewell alongside a lookalike, the Steinhart Ocean Two, which costs a tenth of the price.

See My Vest...

Patchwork Season: Stylish Quilted Vests to Layer (or Not)

It seems some folks jump straight from shirtsleeves to parkas when the autumn leaves begin to fall. No, vests are for those in-between days, the time when one extra layer over a thick sweater, a mug of hot cider and the company of a loved one is all we need to keep warm during a stroll through the park. But even when the atmosphere turns up the a/c, a vest beneath your overcoat does wonders; after all, 'tis the season to layer and layer some more. We've rounded up the best quilted vests -- each fashionable and cozy in its own right.

No Phone Booth Needed

Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2: Work Hard, Play Hard

They say it makes Jack a dull boy, the whole single-sided approach to life. We’ll go one further, though, and say that even being able to switch from fun to serious or from any identity to another, for that matter, isn’t all that impressive. Sure, Batman saves lives, fights crime and delivers justice, and sure,...

If you're between a soft and a hard case...

Shell Out: The Best Hard-Shell & Hard-Side Suitcases

In the good old days of train travel a gentleman would have a cavalcade of steamer trunks in tow, housing all manner of wardrobe, knick knacks, accoutrement and what-have-yous. These days, a guy's lucky if his rolling carry-on isn't checked at the gate. Thankfully, weary traveler, technology is on your side. We're pleased to introduce to you the best hard shell suitcases we would find, each a convergence of all the necessary requirements for travel, each unique in its own way.

Easy to Fathom

Want This, Get This: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms or Halios Tropik SS

Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we feature the forebear of all modern dive watches and a young upstart that still holds its own.

Resurfacing

Meet the Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

As a tech-minded individual, you appreciate a solid hands-on experience with any device before you purchase it. You storm your local electronics haunt and play with display models for hours on end before making a decision. But you’re still here reading because you want the deets up front from a reliable (thank you) source. With this in mind, we must first explain that no matter how many of the glorious specifications, design and interface highlights and general accolades we spout over the next page, we simply won’t be able to scratch the surface (huzzah!) of the technological nerdery that makes up Microsoft’s Surface 2 ($449) and Surface Pro 2 ($899) tablets. But are we ever gonna try.

PRECISE TO WITHIN A GNAT’S EYEBROW

Breakdown: Bulova Precisionist Chronograph

We know you competitive types. For timing grocery runs down to a thousandth of a second, the Bulova Precisionist Chronograph ($799) is one of the most impressive timepieces out there. More specifically, the Precisionist is one of the most accurate watches that doesn't receive regular timing signals from a remote atomic clock. We break it down.

The right tools for any of his many jobs

12 Guys of Christmas: The Do-It-Yourselfer

Handyman, craftsman, mister-fix-it, Dad. Call him what you like, but the Do-It-Yourselfer on your list gives his all for you, no matter the task. Be honest: that beautiful new deck that causes envy in the eyes of all your friends would’ve been a creaking pile of splinters were it not for him, and you’d probably be sharing space with Fido out in the yard -- in the K9 condo he designed and built no less -- had he not stepped in to save your recent en suite experiment. Like most men of his ilk, your handyman rarely receives anything more than a hot coffee to start his day and a cold brew to finish it, which is fine by him. Isn’t it about time you gave him something more? Here are a few gift ideas that should ensure your calls for help continue to get answered.

Let's Luxuriate

JetBlue Mint

When it comes to flying, passengers seem to enjoy reflecting on the so-called “golden age of aviation” which, as far as we can tell, just means any time before present day. On any cross-country flight you’ll hear fliers reminisce on days of lax security standards as they’re digitally cavity searched or on the lost glamour of air travel as they’re entombed between the impressive combined girth of 17A and 17C. And it’s true. Flying today sucks. Even first class today sucks. Where’s the $1,000 value in a couple extra inches of legroom and three ounces of booze? Jet Blue tends to agree. The New York-based carrier just introduced an impressive new trans-continental service featuring their totally revamped take on first class: Mint.

Impeccable Silence

Stay: Bulgari Hotel London

It's hard to believe it's been 40 years since London last christened a new luxury hotel. Standing inside the Bulgari Hotel London, though, you'd be hard pressed not to call the wait well worth it. Nestled in London's Knightsbridge neighborhood, home of the wealthiest of London's wealthy, Bulgari's latest hotel has quite clearly taken a different path than its brethren: better design, less bling.

Power to the people

Tested: Stages Power X9

Power was the single metric I was looking to improve during the lead-up to La Ruta. I became power savvy by establishing my baseline watts at lactate threshold and VO2 Max during the F.U.E.L. testing we covered in Part II and then had the next six months to train against these numbers to improve fitness and manage nutrition on long rides. Yet I still had just one gap in my arsenal of gear: a power meter for my mountain bike. The Stages Power X9 ($700) is both new and affordable relative to other power meters, so I decided to give it a test run.

Gear worth its weight in...

Kit: Fool’s Gold 100

Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.

Reflecting on the best

More For (Mirror)less: 6 Best Mirrorless Cameras

When in 2004 Epson released the R-D1, the world’s first mirrorless digital camera, photographers weren’t sure what to make of it. Ten years later every major camera company has thrown their proverbial hat into the mirrorless ring. In fact, with digital sensors equal to those found in DSLRs, interchangeable pro-quality lenses, and magnesium-alloy construction, mirrorless cameras are quickly becoming the choice of many professionals looking to downsize their gear. It's safe to say 2014 will be the year of the mirrorless camera, and we've rounded up our favorites to help you prepare.

Connect to your bike

Double Click: 10 Best Road Bike Shoes

If you’re riding a bike for exercise or hobby, chances are you’re clipping in and experiencing the pleasure of an efficient ride with optimal power transfer. Though we have three contact points with the bike -- pedals, saddle, bars -- the connection to the pedals via the shoes is the only one that’s mechanical, so it's essential that the shoe fits properly. There’s no single good choice -- there are a lot of them, at different budgets, with different materials and closures. We’ve picked out 10 road bike shoes that cover the spectrum, letting you become one with the bike. Namaste.

Size doesn't matter

Don’t Call Them Small: 6 Great Mid-Size Watches

Big watches still rule the timepiece landscape, but, like dinosaurs and SUVs, their days may be numbered. Much to the relief of small arms (and those who don't need to compensate with their wristwear), a growing crop of reasonably sized watches are popping up. While 40mm would have been considered gargantuan 40 years ago, nowadays it suits most wrists well and looks appropriate with a variety of apparel. Here are our favorite six watches with diameters at or below 40 millimeters. Big watches, watch out.

Board meeting

Surf’s Up: 5 Great All-Around Surfboards

Choosing a surfboard is no simple matter. There are lots of factors to consider, like the shape of the board, the size, rocker and rails, tails and fins. There are eggs and fish -- and we’re not talking about breakfast options. The ideal board for beginners is long, wide and thick since it's stable for both paddling and for taking off on a wave. Here are five that fit that description to a T.

Slopes? We'll take our water flat, thanks

Kit: Waterskiing

Sprinkler, fire hydrant, beach or pool: they're all great ways to cool off when the mercury spikes. Then there's waterskiing. Often overshadowed by its alpine brother, waterskiing is a heck of a lot of fun and doesn't require donning a neck warmer. There's nothing like carving a perfect turn and throwing up a 15-foot wall of spray behind you, all under sunny skies and, preferably, with some bikini-clad babes close by. Here's the gear you need to get there.

Bump the bass -- and finish that report

Front Row Seat: 10 Best Desktop Speakers

The majority of us have become extremely comfortable with the mediocre phonics that ooze through the speakers of our laptops and PCs or the less-than-stellar resonance produced from our headphones. This is sad, seeing as how providing a significant audio boost can transform your desk into the ultimate home entertainment console. For those seeking a more potent and louder alternative to their built-in receivers or noise-canceling cans, we assembled this collection of awesome stereo monitors sure to have your ears ringing. No, they don't have to break the bank (though they certainly can, if you're the splurging type). From portable blasters to music studio amplifiers, each is Bona fide audio hardware powerful enough to enliven any Netflix, Spotify, or Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 sessions at the computer counter. Now get jammin'.

Uncomplicated, for your wallet

Buying Guide: Affordable Complications

Watches that simply tell time are a dime a dozen, and sometimes close to a dozen a dime. But start adding more functions and things can get complicated -- and expensive. While we’re just starting to forgive the quartz watch for dealing a near death blow to our beloved mechanical timepieces, there’s no denying that when you want more bang for the buck, battery power is the way to go. You’ll pay dearly for dual time zones, flybacks, alarms and tide trackers on the mechanical side of the fence, but if you’re willing to put up with a tick-tick-tick seconds hand, we’ve found five watches that are happy to complicate your life for under (or around) five hundred dollars.

Just add water

Kit: Diving the Bahamas

While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.

Telling shit from Shinola? That's easy

Time On Our Hands: Shinola Runwell

Here's the thing about Shinola: it gives off the right appearances, the right ethics, just the right amount of chip-on-the-shoulder pride; and then those things end up also being true, rooted in concrete examples like a city and the fingers of idealistic workers (who, outside of watches, also build excellent bikes) or abstract things like the American Dream. So it is with the Shinola Runwell ($600), the brand's flagship watch, which found its way onto my relatively inexperienced wrist with an obvious, immediate question: was this an American watch (the American watch) worth buying?

Attacking the mountain in style

Kit: Ultimate Mountain Challenge

The Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the GoPro Summer Mountain Games is one of the most unique multi-sport events in the world. You'll navigate white water, race up and down the ski slopes of Vail Mountain Resort on your mountain bike and in your running shoes, and finish with a grueling road bike time trial up to 9,500 feet in Vail Pass. Of course, it's also the perfect excuse to update aging gear and even splurge on a great bike or even a paddle board. Here's a look at the gear that got us through the race.

Tick-tick-tick

Five Quartz Watches We Wouldn’t Be Ashamed to Wear

While haute horlogerie is all about insane complications these days, even basic mechanicals are lots of fun when we get to peek under the hood. But quartz watches? They give one the feeling of an absolute black box: no clue what goes on in there. So sure, we'd rather go mechanical, but to overlook quartz watches is to ignore unique performance and a form-follows-function vibe in some pretty cool purpose-built watches. Quartz timepieces are, by their very nature, more accurate and often more comfortable to wear than their mechanical forebears. Sometimes those traits are welcome, like when you're swinging a golf club, marching into battle or just lifting a cold one on a hot afternoon. We take a look at a few electromechanical beasts that would add some much-needed variety to your watch box.

The Gear for Rainier

Kit: Climbing Mount Rainier

To take on our recent ascent of Mount Rainier, we rounded up some of the latest and greatest mountaineering gear. And after two days, 9,000 vertical feet of climbing and weather that ranged from downright scorching to subzero wind chills, we’ve got a thing or two to say about each piece. So whether or not you plan to use any of this gear in your urban, or more rustic, adventures, you can be assured we’ve put it all through rigorous testing in a worse place. Just don’t take an ice axe on the subway.

WELCOME RACE FANS

Breakdown: Tissot T-Race Touch

In this age of touchscreens, electronic this, and digital that, you might be thinking the good old analog timepiece -- you know, actual hour and minute hands pointing to numbers on a dial -- might be in grave danger. This is especially true in racing applications where hundredths of a second are pretty important. As if to reach an accord, the recently released Tissot T-Race Touch ($575) combines the best of the digital and analog worlds. We break it down.

I, Growbot

Breakdown: RoboReel

You know those videos from the 50s promising a future of flying cars and robo-butlers by the year 2010? Well say hello to what we've managed to conjure up in those 60 years: the RoboReel ($649). We break down the "water" iteration of this spherical helper.