In sports and fitness, training plans and pounding the pavement can take you a long way. But sometimes it takes more than a blue collar work ethic: it helps to have bits of wisdom from seasoned vets, deep scientific insight and cleverly-designed products. Since kicking off Limits, we’ve scraped together knowledge about everything from the effect of caffeine on endurance to importance of VO2 max testing. We still fall down at stoplights occasionally, no amount of wisdom can prevent that. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Cheaper Than Tournament Tickets
There’s a time for relaxing with a good craft beer, but this year’s Malted Madness tournament was not one of them. It took a great deal of humility, but we shelved our self-proclaimed beer snobbery for the sake of a single question: what’s the best mass market beer available? It wasn’t easy, but we got an answer, and some other cool articles, besides.
Dive watches are more popular than ever, despite most divers choosing not to wear them. Never mind. We’re all for getting our watches wet. Here’s a selection of our favorite dive watches and some adventures we’ve had with them.
Beg for mercy, prep mercilessly
What’s that bright thing in the sky? Is that…is that the sun? We’re not done with winter’s worst yet, but a look back at some of our cold-weather pieces should help you fill out your much-needed wintry gear set. Only a few more weeks, folks. We’re almost there.
Calling all watch fans
A resurgent interest in the mechanical timepieces has grown a whole new crop of watch enthusiasts, people hungry for not only eye candy (which we happily provide weekly), but also knowledge about wrist-based micro-engineering marvels. We’re here to help. This collection of our best educational articles might just save your precious timepiece from a busted date mechanism or save you from embarrassment the next time someone asks you what a helium release valve is for. We call it Timekeeping 101.
Great Deeds, Great Words
Read enough and you’ll realize good writers are really engineers, philosophers, truth-seekers, liars, aficionados, artists, editors and soothsayers rolled into one. Crafting a singular moment out of independent and dependent clauses, an emotion out of the perfectly placed adverb or semicolon, requires an abstract something beyond skill, a something that, ironically, tends to boggle anyone who couldn’t create that moment out of thin air in the first place. But though we non-writers can’t define it (and we certainly can’t create it like they can), that literary gold is recognizable the instant our eyes parse it. It feels good. It’s a gift for the taking.
Gear Patrol’s writers artfully attack their craft every day, seeking to describe the test of powerful, groundbreaking and outlandish products better than anyone else out there. That’s worth celebrating; we celebrate it all the time. But every once in a while, they take something a little bigger — an impromptu, dangerous, romping journey, say, or an argument they’ve fleshed out fifty times with buddies, or the challenge of defeating a daunting obstacle like a mountain — and create something especially worth reading. They bend, contort, expand all of those skills we mentioned above to new limits on paper. We call it a feature. Here are the best of 2013.
Looking Back on the Absolute Best of 2013's Products
We’re not the sort to grandstand, but this has been a pretty good year: we rolled out Limits, Octane and Timekeeping; we traveled to Cuba, Kenya and Indonesia; we dived with sharks in the Bahamas, drove a tank in Minnesota and ran an ultramarathon in the mountains of Vermont. We drank beer and Irish Whiskey, responsibly.
Each of which, in one way or another, pales in comparison to our GP100, released in October, which honored the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope. It wasn’t not a ranking or a contest. Instead, our selections represented the inspiring and the practical, the groundbreaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that defined or defied their respective categories to better the life of the modern man. Looking back, they’re an excellent inspiration: you’ll buy only the best products in 2014. In the meantime, aren’t you still itching for those few things no one got you for Christmas…?
Technology is constantly reshaping the world, to both our benefit and frustration. From a macro standpoint, the changes wrought during 2013 weren’t surprising at all. Computing increased; pixels were packed closer; connectivity expanded — just like the analysts said they would. We yawned with indifference while promptly pre-ordering, then tossed the pinnacles of 2012′s innovation on Craigslist.
Still, a few trends did stand out amid the churning tech landscape. The actions and unique characteristics of our bodies have officially joined the digital party, providing new forms of interactions, security concerns and data points. Novel careers in the gaming industry button-mashed ever closer to the mainstream while the consoles wars reset for the decade to come. Personal devices like smartphones finally became personalizable and, in some cases, made in America. True to our heritage, we also devoted plenty of man-hours to simplifying your acquisition quests by researching, testing and sharing the best devices available in countless critical tech categories.
Just in case you missed any of it, here you’ll find a retrospective on some of our favorite forays into the world of technology during 2013. Enjoy them now in the pre-obsolescence stages of their lives, and make sure you check back soon. Next year will bring plenty of innovation again, and we’ll be here to cover it like only GP can.
What a wonderful world
This year, we saw a lot of the royal baby, puppy-related lists and Miley Cyrus. All interesting, to be sure, but the cultural equivalent of junk food — enjoyable but unsatisfying. Empty calories.
If culture is the measure of a society, we want substantive culture — the whole grains, fruits and vegetables of life. Over the past year, we sowed the seeds of quality, and now we pick the ten best crops of the harvest. Enjoy the best of booze, food, travel (some of it occupying a legal grey area), architecture, cigars, coffee and more. Eat all you want — we grew them just for you.
Pushing ourselves, and you
The launch of Limits in June was one of those moments when everything seems so logical and inevitable, and then the announcement goes live, you have a sip of coffee, and think: Wait, how did we get so wrapped up in endurance sports? Isn’t it a pretty niche category? Does this mean we have to do an Ironman every year?
The answer to the latter two questions is yes, sort of. The field of competitors and the quantity of staggeringly difficult races grows each year, and you’ll find us in the field reporting, usually wearing some kind of spandex. The answer to the question about how we got so wrapped up in this world helps explain how our sports and adventure coverage has evolved over the past year and where we see it going in 2014.
The soul of endurance sports is finding that point when you don’t want to go any further, when it feels like physically and mentally like you can’t, when all but a fraction of a percent of people quit — and then continuing anyway (with negative splits). As our athlete-adventurers reported back from their journeys, we realized that, in fact, this unites all sports, from rock climbing and mountaineering to surfing and cycling. To thrive in any of these disciplines requires a commitment to raise the middle finger to pain and frustration — and monotony, sometimes — in the hopes of achieving a goal that previously seemed impossible. Maybe we discover something new about ourselves, maybe we just have one hell of a day.
What we ended up with is Limits, a section grounded in enduring and yet inclusive of all adventures that test the will. These are some of our favorite stories — and we can promise that year will be even more exciting.
It's That Time
We picked a good year to formally launch Gear Patrol’s Timekeeping series. We’ve never strived to make it the place for breaking watch news or regurgitated press releases, nor do we limit ourselves to talking about the most prestigious brands. We prefer to cover the horological world that appeals to us — watches as gear for life’s adventures, whether they be rough or genteel. 2013 was the year we rolled out this new vision, and we’re on to something…
It's been a gas
It’s been a great year for wheels at Gear Patrol. Octane, our special section on all things motoring, was launched back in early summer with the goal of bringing together our collective driving experiences, which ranged from driving some of the world’s greatest cars on tantalizing tracks and breathtaking open roads to imparting our two cents worth about the current state of vehicles and their place in the world. And, as always, there was a story to tell behind the videos and images… stories that the boy in each of us has dreamt about telling in our own lives, about the supercar we’ve always wanted to drive or the motorcycle that’s beckoned to us from beyond our office walls.
Click through to read our special retrospective on this year’s best in Octane.
You know the feeling of peeling back the wrapping paper and catching a glance of a the best seller you’ve already received 3 copies of or a “scarf” that might be better tasked trawling for tuna. Whatever it is, you smile, say thanks and quickly divert your eyes to the next gift in the distance…
If your significant other invited the relatives for Thanksgiving, you’re probably praying that there won’t be a repeat of what your cousins still call the Great Turkey Fiasco of 2003. But why not go on the offensive? This is your day, dammit, and just because Aunt Hellen and Cousin Doug have decided to hold a…
The winter. To most cyclists it means eating too much and enjoying earned time off. To some it means hellish 15-hour weeks on the indoor trainer, preparing in earnest for next season. But to all of us it means longing for short-sleeved summer rides, spring classics and stronger legs next year. Luckily, just before the…
Our roundup of the hardest open water swims mentioned that the 100-mile plus swim between Cuba and Florida is nearly impossible, the only successful attempt having been made by a swimmer inside a shark cage. About that. 64-year-old Diana Nyad, one of endurance swimming’s greats, completed the epic slog on September 2 — and it…
Though there’s some debate about who initially proposed the idea of a day to celebrate America’s workforce at the turn of the 20th century, Labor Day’s tenure as a Federal holiday had a rather rocky impetus. During the summer of 1894 employees of the Pullman Railroad company went on strike and impeded train traffic to…
Reliving the Adventure
If we had to pick a favorite communist country (don’t tell Joe McCarthy) it’d probably be Cuba. There’s something incredibly charming about our vision of the place. It might have been dreams of the weather, the Panama hats, the Buena Vista Social Club — or just the time-capsule aura that many of us associate with…
A return to 007
There have been great Bonds and there have been questionable Bonds, but at some point during every one of Ian Fleming’s stories you can’t help but envy 007. We can never decide whether it’s his watches, cars or inimitable coolness that keeps us coming back — so we had to cover them all. Our best…
Beauty After Age
Spend some time on the web or amongst cool guys with well-groomed facial hair and you’ll hear plenty of talk about patina, a seemingly mythical quality that rarely rears its head outside of tumblr feeds. Really though, patina is just how goods are affected by time; the better the item was made, the better it…
Our favorite oat sodas
Selecting our favorite domestic craft beer was rather like selecting a favorite child: really not that hard, but bound to incite debate. Discussion of beer, like children, brings about a certain sentimentality — nostalgia, even — for the dogged unsophistication and everyman appeal of the malted beverage. Pitting our favorite beers against one another in…
Summertime. You talked about it all winter; planning road trips, cookouts and tailgates. Cut to 5 months later and you cant seem to peel yourself off of the couch without taking a breather. It’s time to act on those plans and we’re here to make sure your (carnivorous) guests don’t have to eat the frozen…
At some point during the 96-degree summer workweek we’ve all dreamed of escaping the city and getting lost in some beautiful scenery. If you’re looking for a new hobby (or already addicted), perfecting your fly fishing cast on the river is the perfect excuse. You might even catch something. To make sure you get A…
For the Procrastinating Santa
The Adventurer He shows up at Christmas dinner with new scars and less digits from his latest cage dives and winter Alpine ascents. His tales, most of them true, scare Aunt Betty to tears and enchant the kids. And while the adventurer’s gifts for you usually amount to a carved tribal trinket or a rock…