Patagonia has always been a company with one foot in the mountains and one in the sea — climbing and skiing one day, surfing and paddling the next. When they introduced wetsuits to their lineup a few years ago, it was a big leap for the company, but not one they were unqualified to make. In fact, their experience building warm, lightweight and bombproof alpine gear transferred well to wetsuits, which we found out recently while testing the R1 wetsuit during a week of diving in Belize.
Gear for the jungle and the reef
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.
Changing the landscape of home lawn care
The Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment ($149-$399) lineup is Lowe’s new family of cordless yard care products. With two lawnmowers, a string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower, pole saw and chainsaw available at launch at affordable price points, their comprehensive collection seems aimed at homeowners who are ready to wholeheartedly embrace the cordless revolution. With a full selection charged, ready and waiting just outside of Jacksonville, we ditched our parkas and went to work.
SET IT AND FORGET IT
Back in 1983, the first Swatch quartz watch had 51 components. For a 30th anniversary celebratory piece, Swatch took up the challenge to make a mechanical watch with the same number of parts. This is the Swatch Sistem51, a revolution in mechanical watches that hasn’t yet come to American shores. We recently got our hands on one.
Gear for the diehard winter rider
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.
Nowadays media streaming devices offer dramatically improved user experiences, access to a wide range of content at 1080p, and price tags easily within anyone’s budget, making it easier than ever to cut the cable company’s iron umbilical cord. We’ve selected the top five that should satiate any media user, aficionado to amateur.
Less Space, More Power
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.
Go For A Spin
For cyclists, both trainers and rollers have their respective pros and cons. When Indiana-based SportCrafters introduced their “best of both worlds” Omnium Trainer ($449), then, we decided to give it a thorough testing during the harshest days of a particularly bad winter.
The Battle of Britain
The three watch companies at the vanguard of the British timekeeping renaissance — Bremont, Christopher Ward and Schofield — represent very different approaches, price points and designs. Yet they share one thing: a distinctively British take on the wristwatch. We spent some time with each to establish a solid cross section of timepieces from across the pond. Put the kettle on and settle in for our impressions.
Anyone who followed CES this year saw the amount of new wireless Bluetooth speakers — an avalanche eclipsed only by the utter horde of new fitness trackers. Still, it’s clear when a winner emerges from the pack. While the fight for the best portable Bluetooth speaker continues, one high-end contender threatens to end the competition: the foxL DASH 7 ($219), produced by Soundmatters, the same company that originally provided components for the best-selling Jambox.
To Russia We Fly
Packing for a trip to Russia for the Sochi Olympics is no small feat. There’s weather, international travel, technology and a desire to stay light on our feet to consider. Gear needs to be tough, functional, lightweight and understated. Here’s a sampling of what we’re packing to use on a normal day in Sochi.
Adventure-ready multifunction watches
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.
Go Forth and Multiply
The Iris Smart Kit ($299) does a fantastic job of keeping our home in check, but a quick survey of the complementary products available for the Iris Home Management System, by Lowe’s, had us feeling like a pot-bellied biker with a bone-stock Harley at home. Accordingly, we tested out an Iris Kit army of great add-ons.
The intersection of leather and rubber
Rule one of motorcycling is to armor yourself from head to toe with the right gear; style comes second, but when done right, it plays its part in your staying in one piece as well. For that extra bit of protection and tasteful flair, we’ve gathered five great leather moto jackets for the upcoming riding season and paired each with a like-minded beauty of a bike.
A Jacket of All Trades
When we stopped by the Aether office and showroom to take a look at the second version of the Alto ($395) jacket, their crew handed us a sample and sent us on to their on-site testing facility — an industrial walk-in freezer — where we got a preview of how it would perform in the wild. Our adventures with the Alto would take us from chilly nights in Los Angeles to face-mashing wind in Detroit to a short stint inside New York’s polar vortex. And Vegas. That set of varying destinations is where the Alto, a true multipurpose jacket, is meant to shine.
Limited Release, 13-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey
Drinking alone gets a bad rap, but there’s having a drink alone and then there’s really drinking alone, getting after it, sitting on a creaky chair the garage with a case of Keystone and no real plans to speak of except to power through it. Be careful with that. But in the first scenario a man reaches beneath his desk around 6:00 p.m., puts The Best of Dean Martin on the phonograph, starts nodding to the music, and pours himself a measure of something good and strong. During a recent six o’clock hour we opened up a bottle of Lock Stock & Barrel ($118) straight rye whiskey — and it’s just about as smooth and rich as Dino’s voice.
A board meeting you want to be part of
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.
These should come in handy
These, the five best winter gloves, will give you free range of motion, excellent grip and reasons to start conversations — all while maintaining a high standard of comfort. So whether you’re into something sporty, stylish, svelte or something else, we’ve found the right fit for you.
What is thy bidding, master
In the past, controlling the various aspects of your home meant micro-managing at individual stations: temperature meant adjustments at the thermometer; lights mean hitting the switch; and setting the alarm, well, that usually gets forgotten (sorry sweetie!). Sure, there are some damn fine products out there to streamline home base operations, but, like your niece’s Christmas choir recital, they lack the cohesion of a singular voice. The Iris Home Management System by Lowe’s puts you in the executive office of macro-management by instantly offering control of your home, from anywhere you please, through a single application.
The best gets better
Audioengine’s original A2 speakers launched in 2008 and were immediately showered with praise. They were sized to feel right at home on a desk but also boasted smart design decisions and spectacular sound quality, both of which were more in line with traditional bookshelf speakers or studio monitors. The newly updated Audioengine A2+ ($249) retains its predecessor’s baseline of quality but builds upon that wide range of usefulness with notable improvements for a variety of audio setups.
Be cool, not cold
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.
Don't lose your head
These days, seeing someone without a helmet on the slopes is a rarity; more than 70 percent of all mountain-goers are donning them, and countless brands are releasing offerings onto the market. With hundreds of brain buckets to choose from, though, the task of finding the right one can be daunting — but, with your IQ and major bodily functions on the line, we beg you to persevere. To help, we’ve rounded up our five favorite snow sports helmets covering the spectrum from high-tech to lightweight.
Deep powder is a religious experience, and it takes just one perfect day of blue skies and bottomless snow to become a pious worshiper. From Alyeska to Taos, powderhounds feverishly monitor weather reports for the next big storm, and after spending a weekend skiing 12,000-foot ridges in Telluride, we know exactly why: powder skiing is as close as man can get to flying in the mountains. The best way to enjoy the fluffy stuff is with the right gear. Here’s what we pack on Powder Day.
Empty Canvases, Waiting to be Filled
We know you love leather bags, and so do we. But there are times, say, when you’re toting your photography gear, that you need a more all-weather, utilitarian alternative. In fact, we’ll say it now — leave the leather for trips and commutes. We’ve rounded up our favorites and put them through their paces to come up with our list of the five best canvas camera bags for the discerning photographer.
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. Today we present two vintage style, military-inspired chronographs, one that gets it right and the other that goes one better — for one tenth the price.
Two Great Loafers, Two Different Prices
There are a few sartorial staples that no man should be without: the navy blazer, the white dress shirt, and of course the classic oxblood penny loafer. We mean the old-school, rounded-toe, brushed burgundy loafer, the kind your grandfather wore to his college graduation and yours. Today we compare a posh pair of loafers for the Harvard grad and a reasonably priced substitute that will produce the same trad effect.
Weatherproof Jackets for the slopes and otherwise
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
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.
Portable, with Power to Spare
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.
Get Above the Action
Drones with GoPro capability have exploded in popularity over the past two or three years and are finally beginning to arrive at price points that might make the budget-minded filmmaker’s ears perk up. With that in mind, we sought to find the best drones for aerial filmmaking; after some worthwhile learning experiences (don’t try and learn to fly one in a New York City office), we’ve arrived at our three favorites.