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Embrace your baggage

The 10 Best Daypacks for Every Adventure

While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.

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Proving Big-Brand Isn't Bad

Tested: Under Armour Speedform Apollo

Under Armour takes its first shot at a race-weight running shoe with the Speedform Apollo. We took a pair for a spin to see how they stack up.

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Light shoes, fast hikes

The Best Hiking Shoes for 2014

If you’re traveling light and fast in the mountains or just need something to walk the local trail system, you can skip a full-fledged hiking boot in favor of a hiking shoe. These are our five favorites.

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Davy Jones's (Dive) Locker

Kit: Wreck Diving

For centuries, man has found countless ways to send ships to the bottom of the sea. Since the advent of scuba technology, we’ve found ways to explore them. Whether it’s to search for booty, take eerie photos, or just to pay respects, wreck diving is a not a sport for the timid. Often found in deep, cold water with strong currents and dangerous reefs, wrecks demand expertise, experience, humility and marine-grade bronze balls — not to mention a lot of specialized gear. This isn’t tropical holiday diving, so be prepared to shell out for equipment that can stand up to the conditions the Gunilda, the Thistlegorm or the Doria present.

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Small size, big sound

Tested: Klipsch X11i In-Ear Headphones

The typical beef with earbuds is that they sound worse than similarly priced over- or on-ear headphones. That’s not to say audio engineers haven’t figured out how to squeeze spectacular sound out of a diminutive package, there’s just usually a hefty premium for having your cake and eating it too. Klipsch’s X11i are the company’s top of the line offering in-ear offering. We spent the last few weeks with a pair to see if they were capable of producing the high-end sound worthy of their high-end price.

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Season Openers

5 Bomber Jackets for this Spring

Lightweight bombers are a simple, all-American affair. This spring mainstay has evolved over the past century to include styles with a wide variety of fabrics, slimmer fits and colors beyond the basics. With warm weather finally here, we’ve stowed our parkas and picked our five favorites that range from technical to timeless.

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Less Searching, More Sipping

The 15 Best Bourbons You Can Actually Buy

There’s no denying that bourbon is having a moment. The pride of Kentucky wins out over other whiskies because it’s a little sweeter, a little smoother, and a whole lot easier to mix. It’s also relatively affordable — very good bottles are available at very good prices. But thanks to its newfound popularity, some of the top-tier bottles — Pappy Van Winkle’s family reserve, George T. Stagg — are now shockingly expensive and, increasingly, hard to track down. Luckily, there’s still a wide variety to bourbons at accessible prices that are readily available in nearly every state. Which one to choose? Here’s a list to help you out.

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Kickin' Tunes

5 Sneakers, 5 Tunes: A Stylish Playlist for Spring

Grabbing a pair of classically rad sneakers better suited for trips to the beach than running a 5k personal best is a great way to prepare for warmer weather. Light materials and light colors paired with simple silhouettes make each of these five picks worth wearing for that next sundress encounter; for summer mood optimization, we’ve paired an accompanying soundtrack to each of our picks.

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To and From, safely and in style

Kit: Bicycle Commuter

If you’re thinking about joining the bike commuter set, you’ll need the essentials: bike, helmet, lights, lock and a handsome leather wine bottle carrier. We’ve got it all in this Kit, plus much more.

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Kids ride (almost) free

Tested: Weehoo iGo Bicycle Trailer

If you’re looking to introduce your kids to cycling, the Weehoo iGo Pro bicycle trailer ($400) is just the tool for the job. We got our hands on one and put it to the test with a five-year-old and a 15-month-old in tow.

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Professional grade

Tested: F-Stop Camera Backpacks

F-Stop is a relative newcomer to the camera bag scene, and its St. Louis headquarters is incongruous with its focus on packs for mountain sports photography. But don’t let that fool you. Their packs show a design maturity that could only stem from experience and a smart use of user feedback. We tested both the light-and-fast Kenti ($249) and the sturdier, larger Satori EXP ($379) in conditions as varied as multi-day hikes in New Zealand and peak bagging in New Hampshire.

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Earn Your Turns

Kit: Ski Mountaineering

Ski mountaineering is the ultimate punishment tour in the mountains — moving uphill with heavy gear through deep snow and ice — with a perfect payoff when it’s time to go down. We spent this winter testing the best winter mountaineering and ski gear on some of the biggest peaks in Utah and Colorado as we trained for the Power of 4 Ski Mountaineering Race. If you’re looking to start going further in search of deep powder, look no further for the best extreme-condition gear for any winter climbing mission.

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Two Very Talented Spin Doctors

Want This, Get This: Linn Majik LP12 or Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

Today music lovers are finding more and more of their friends have returned to a beloved 1960s listening form: spinning vinyl. Unfortunately, buying a turntable is daunting. The segment tends to idolize incredibly expensive hi-fi gear, which is all well and good, except that few newcomers or even seasoned vinyl listeners can afford the tippity top of the quality pyramid. Truth is, for the price of an iPod you can be the proud owner of a turntable with great sound and the chops to convey every form of jammery until you yourself are a vinyl aficionado.

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The thrill of the hunt

The GP Guide to eBay Vintage Watch Hunting

What self-respecting watch nerd hasn’t spent countless hours trolling eBay for that elusive vintage treasure that no one has discovered? The Pre-Moon Omega Speedmaster, the MilSub, the Cosmonaute — the names alone are enough to get palms sweating and the heart racing. While the thrill of watch collecting is in the hunt, enough foiled plans and missed auctions will make anyone gun shy. We feel your pain. The best salve is this guide to vintage watches on eBay, featuring a strong mix of underdogs — those timepieces that fly under a lot of collectors’ radars. Not only do you stand a better chance of scoring one of these collectible tickers, once you do make the final bid, you’ll end up with a legitimate piece of horological history.

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Special Watches Under $1000

The Frugal Watch Nerd’s Buying Guide

It’s easy to become numb to the incredible prices of fine watches. But being a watch enthusiast doesn’t mean choosing between a good watch and a decent used car. By looking in the right places, you can avoid bland fashion watches in favor of well-made, unique timepieces that scratch the watch nerd itch while protecting your post-college pledge to never subsist on ramen noodles again. Here are a few examples of what can be found for less than $1,000.

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Armoring up for battle with frigid surf

Kit: Winter Surfing

When it comes time to hit the surf and temps are in the 30s rather than the 70s, the right gear is the difference between channeling Bodhi and becoming intimate with the symptoms of hypothermia. While it’s admittedly tough to be toasty in water less than half your body’s normal temperature, with the right kit you can at least pursue your hobby and live to tell about it. Below are our picks for the gear you’ll need for winter surfing.

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Get wet, stay warm

Tested: Patagonia R1 Wetsuit

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.

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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.

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Changing the landscape of home lawn care

Tested: Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment

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.

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SET IT AND FORGET IT

Testing the Swatch Sistem51, a Horological Landmark

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.

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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.

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Streaming Consciousness

Net Flicks: Cut the Cord With These Great Set-Top Boxes

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.

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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.

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Go For A Spin

Tested: SportCrafters Omnium Trainer

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.

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The Battle of Britain

British Watch Shootout

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.

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Sound Matters

Tested: foxL DASH 7 Bluetooth Speaker

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.

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To Russia We Fly

Kit: Capturing the Olympics

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.

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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.

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Go Forth and Multiply

Life With Iris: Proliferation

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.

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The intersection of leather and rubber

5 Great Leather Motorcycle Jackets, 5 Great Rides

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.