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Board optional, shorts required

Short Sell: This Summer’s 5 Best Board Shorts

Some of the best days of summer are spent out on the water — or at least relaxing, sipping beers and socializing near it. But what to wear? Board shorts are the safest (and best) bet in our book, providing the rugged construction necessary for water sports with a look and form — thanks to a rigid waistband, fly, snaps, ties and quick-drying, stretchy material — that also lends itself to an inland hike for boardwalk pizza. We’ve herded our five favorite board shorts of the year for your wearing pleasure here.

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A Hard Shell for the Hard Charger

Tested: Westcomb Focus Hoody

Traveling fast and light on a backpacking or climbing trip is a worthy goal. But while less junk stuffed in your pack means easier miles of trail, sometimes what’s left behind would otherwise keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Westcomb’s Focus Hoody claims to provide excellent protection in an ultralight form. We took it into the elements to see how it would fare.

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Kicking It Old School

100 Years On the Pitch: Nike’s Centennial U.S. Soccer Kit

Soccer has never held our collective national attention like other sports — with Landon Donovan’s goal in extra time against Algeria during the 2010 world cup and Brandi Chastain’s sports bra celebration being the two possible exceptions. So who knew that 2013 represents the 100-year anniversary of the birth of U.S. soccer, originally established as the United States Football Association, a not-for-profit, governing body of soccer in America? Nike’s Centennial kit celebrates this notable milestone with throwback duds for players and fans alike.

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Look Like a Local

Mountain Style: 10 Items to Try Above the Treeline

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Whistler for early spring powder turns or Fort Lander for the summer climbing festival; mountain style is a little different than your garden variety runway fare. Put the moonboots and sweat pants down. You’re not fooling anyone. We’ve put together a few indispensable mountain style standards, chock full of storied, quality brands, to help you blend in with the locals — unless you’re heading to any ski resort in Montana. In that case, it’s time to stock up on Wrangler and Carhartt.

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Ride hard, look sharp

Giro New Road Apparel

If you’re going to climb on a bicycle and tear up some terrain you’re going to want to first don appropriate gear — the best, most protective and comfortable out there (this has been, and will always be, our concern, dude). Only problem is that high-tech performance cycling clothing isn’t always up to snuff for wearing around the office after your commute (showoff). Giro’s New Road apparel blends the worlds of performance and fashion in a big way.

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Shoes for the year-round runner

10 Best Winter Running Shoes

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere lasts four months, but for all intents and purposes the conditions it imposes on runners — cold winds, snow, ice, mud and generally unpredictable terrain — are good for another two. That’s half a year on a treadmill or cross-training in another discipline. That won’t do for most runners. Aside from the functional pre-race advantages of running on roads and trails, exercising in the cold has been associated with all kinds of health benefits, from increased calorie burn to improved stress-coping capacity.

Fortunately, there’s a battery of winter running shoes that perform and protect, many of them incorporating positive design elements from the minimalist running movement — shoes that are, in other words, more than glorified lightweight hikers. We’ve got the 10 best here. Lace up, put the law offices of Jim Sokolove on speed-dial, and get outside.

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Who needs a bike to look cool?

Aether Skyline Motorcycle Jacket

Aether shook up the outerwear market by blending the technical chops of today’s most advanced outerwear with the clean lines and styles of the city. The newly revealed Aether Skyline Motorcycle Jacket ($650) looks poised to do the same thing for a niche most fashion brands ignore.

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Survival on, brother

Survivalon Contrast Jacket

If it was good enough for downed British pilots during WWII, so the saying goes, it should be good enough for you. Though that adage is entirely fabricated, the Survivalon Contrast Jacket ($398) was indeed made to protect Limey pilots; it is also easily good enough for you.

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Get more pep from your step

Adidas Boost: What’s It All About?

In the age of smartphones and tablets, sports companies have scrambled to embrace technology as a new vehicle for pushing the limits of athletic performance. Even so, the Adidas Boost Running Shoe ($150) hopes to prove that re-thinking existing footwear construction still offers plenty of game-changing potential. Its padding stores and unleashes energy more efficiently than existing material.

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Wear your heart on your chest

Under Armour Armour39 System

It’s apparently no longer enough to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve — or wrist. Under Armour’s new Armour39 system attacks the digital performance monitoring question with a new “bug” device, which comes with a special sleeve that straps to the chest; like other bluetooth-enabled fitness computers, it records exercise data and stores it in the cloud.

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Protect your hide

Alpinestars Atem Leather Jacket

We’re always huge advocates of motorcycle riding safety, and you can’t scrimp when it comes to protection on the mean streets or on the tarmac. The Alpinestars Atem Leather Jacket ($700) boasts the kind of materials and design that make it one of the most complete riding jackets available today.

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Down With It

5 Best Lightweight Down Jackets

Depending on your activities of preference, winter is either your joyous playground or whitewashed personal hell. No matter what, staying warm is critical. Down jackets have been a preferred winter option for many years, and for good reason — they’re super warm (when dry), wick moisture away from your body, are packable down to small sizes for travel and have yet to be matched by any synthetic fibers. Here are our five favorite goose-based options to beat the winter freeze.

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New winter gear

Best Gear of Outdoor Retailer 2013

Every six months all the major players in outdoor sports get together to show off their latest and greatest wares for the season. It’s like Comic Con, except cool: Outdoor Retailer has been the launch platform for just about every groundbreaking piece of skiing, climbing, backpacking and paddling gear that’s come to market. We were on the ground at this year’s winter show, and here are the fruits of our efforts: the best gear of Outdoor Retailer 2013.

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Now we're really piste off

Kit: Backcountry Skiing Essentials

With record storms dumping fresh powder in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, we couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than celebrating with a trip to the nearest ski hill. What fun would a resort trip be without ducking under the safety ropes to sneak a few turns in the untouched backcountry? With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of gear that will be equally useful bombing through 20 inches of fresh powder and charging lines of freshly groomed corduroy snow inbounds.

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Aquaman's Walkman

Sony Sports W Series Waterproof MP3

It’s widely known that swimmers and rainy weather joggers (and really all audiophiles hindered by humidity) are more than a little jealous of the ease with which their fellow athletes can take in tunes while exercising. Sony’s whipped up the next in their line of wet-weather answers: the Sports W Series Waterproof MP3 Player, a…

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Slope style, sans slope

Ecco Roxton GTX Snowboard Boots

Your back isn’t what it used to be, but simply being old an adult shouldn’t condemn you to losing that “king-of-the-slopes” hipness you once exuded. The snowboard-inspired ECCO Roxton GTX Snowboard boot ($200) helps you look the part (without disclosing how many times you’ve really hit the mountain this winter). Oiled leather and textile uppers…

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Minimalist footwear, meet winter weather

Vibram FiveFingers Lontra

Vibram’s middle-of-the-road FiveFingers minimalist footwear works well for runners in moderate environments, but if you’ve still got cold feet about running “barefoot”, you’re not alone: those who lodge in colder climes are justifiably apprehensive about taking to the streets with only thin rubber separating feet from frigid elements. The Lontra ($150) answers our wintry wishes…

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Never stop riding

Rapha Neoprene Cycling Overshoes

There’s a reason the term “cold feet” is synonymous with apprehension and doubt in our vernacular. It’s a miserable physical experience that will drive even the most dedicated to question moving forward.

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12 gifts for the adventure seeker

12 Guys of Christmas: 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 from a…

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Rarefied air

Nike Air Max+ 2013

When Nike released the first Air Max in 1987, its Tinker Hatfield design became an instant icon. The first set of sneaks to visibly feature Nike’s synonymous air bubble had kids of all ages clamoring to walk on clouds (and others poking them with pins for proof). The Nike Air Max+ 2013 (available in January)…

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12 gift ideas for the fitness obsessed

12 Guys of Christmas: The Athlete

The fitness fanatic is the man that puts in a quick 5K before the rest of us have even tossed the beans in the burr grinder. His body fat is measured in fractions, and biceps in feet. His dinner conversations involve things like basal metabolic rate; his pecs flex, noticeably, when he passes the pepper….

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12 gift ideas for the active adventurer

12 Guys of Christmas: The Outdoorsman

The outdoorsman on your list is easily identifiable: he’s rarely home and smells faintly of man sweat and wood smoke when you do catch him between excursions. His particular passion falls within an extensive of range possible pursuits (noodling for catfish, anyone?), but one thing is for certain — he does them outside. His look…

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Be sensitive

Outdoor Research Stormsensor Gloves

There aren’t many situations or locations that preclude pulling out your smartphone. Your anniversary dinner with your wife should probably be at the top of that list. Out on the ski slopes the phone also doesn’t see much daylight, but because of the chore it requires versus the acrimonious stink eye. Outdoor Research Stormsensor Gloves…

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Full Mettle Jacket

Eddie Bauer BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0

Superior foul weather gear should provide warmth, shelter your skin from precipitation and be breathable to boot. The Eddie Bauer BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0 does just that thanks to a double layered shell that’s waterproof while venting perspiration (and not losing warmth). Additionally, its micro-channel compartments, stuffed with 800-fill premium goose down, minimize weight…

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Divide and Conquer

Columbia Lhotse Mountain II Interchange Jacket

Winter’s thrills are already starting to winnow their way into your thoughts — days of hitting the slopes and nights on the town après-ski. Columbia’s Lhotse Mountain II Interchange Jacket ($240) has you covered for both activities, pairing a waterproof, breatheable shell and an inner insulating layer that can also be worn separately. In the…

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The monkey on your back

Howler Brothers Aransas Shirt

Yes, summer is drawing to a close, and there’s a nip in the air at night. But with enough collective willpower and the right clothing, we can prolong the season well into September. If there’s one shirt that can do the job, it’s the Howler Brothers Aransas. Hell, the brand’s full lineup of tropics-inspired shirts,…

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Don't get hosed

Duluth Trading Company Flex Fire Hose Work Pants

Duluth Trading Company, that quirky purveyor of rugged clothing that still hand illustrates its catalogs, relies on a team of real world experts – carpenters, construction workers, farmers, a farrier, even a movie set designer – to test their gear. Their best-known piece of kit is their Fire Hose Work Pants, named for the thick…

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Don't sweat it

Columbia Omni-Freeze ZERO

Hot, humid conditions sap intensity and endurance precisely during those moments where your will to push on weakens. Polyester and other “breathable” fabrics passively wick away moisture to keep you from boiling over, but Columbia Omni-Freeze ZERO goes a step further by producing a cooling sensation when exposed to sweat and moisture. It’s made possible…

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Outdoor Function, Urban Acceptance

Fjällräven Reporter Lite Jacket

Swedish company Fjällräven interlaces the classic style of waxed cotton with the technical fibers of polyester in their jack-of-all-trades Reporter Lite Jacket ($260). The Reporter Lite’s G-1000 fabric can be waxed for excellent wind and water protection or washed away for breathability and comfort in fairer climes. In the case of full-on tropical weather, the…

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Ciclista elegante

Capo Padrone Jersey

When it comes to style, nobody rivals the Italians and when it comes to cycling, the same holds true. Where the two overlap though goes back to the days of the debonair campione, Fausto Coppi, laboring over the Alps on his Bianchi in a collared wool jersey and immaculate hair. While modern cycling is all…