You know it’s time for another Outdoor Retailer show when South Main Street in Salt Lake City is populated by fat bikes, single-wheeled skateboards and tan people with good beards. We had boots on the ground at the Salt Palace Convention Center for the summer 2014 edition of the biannual product show; of everything we touched, tasted and saw, this gear stood out most.
Chris Burkard's Gear
Photographer Chris Burkard explains his kit for capturing nature in the Oregon wilderness.
Essentials for a quicky with mother nature
Most day hikes require a peanut butter sandwich, a water bottle and maybe some bug spray. But for the weekend warrior who wants to crush in one day what most people stroll in three, there are a few indispensables. Here are our favorite necessities and extravagances for spending a day burning through some miles on the trail.
The Handiest of Tools for Under $350
A man’s everyday carry (or “EDC” in web-speak) is a fascinating window into the soul. Seeing what someone keeps close at hand can speak in obvious ways to their lifestyle, interests and values. Everyday-Carry.com is the leading community for all things EDC-related, so when it came time to find an expert on the best pocket knives to own under $350, the answer was obvious. If you’re in the market for a new blade without blowing your inheritance, their guide on The Best Pocket Knives Under $350 is an excellent resource worth checking out.
To and From, safely and in style
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.
You axed for it
We don’t mean to split hairs here, but some axes are just simply better than others. You won’t find any designer jobs on this list; those are for your mantle. No, these are utilitarian axes that cut right to the chase, because there are trees to be chopped, timber to be split. Whether you’re a rugged outdoorsman, a weekend cabin dweller, a Middle-Earth dwarf or just a guy who has to clear some branches, these are the five best axes you’ll find.
Gear for the Top of World
Sometimes the mountains just call your name. Whether you’ve got a season to train for a summit bit up Mt. Rainier or just a Saturday afternoon to log some miles hiking up the local ski hill, the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying the majesty and struggling through misery (or worse). Here’s the gear we used for our recent solo free climb of Mount Olympus in Utah — but it’s perfect for any ultralight mountain mission.
Quick Draw Specialist
A knife is a knife is a knife, right? To the unprepared, yes. But you can’t just pick one up from the local flea market and expect it to hold up when you need it most. In any instance, a knife is only helpful if it’s at the ready, but how often do you have both hands free during a one-man project? This is where the SOG Flashback ($100) shines. It’s widely known as the fastest assisted-opening blade on the market today and is also solidly constructed, handsome and impressively durable.
To stop a thief
Cities are graveyards for stolen bikes, with bent wheels and ragged frames hanging off anything nailed to the ground. Remains. The air is thick with the ghosts of bikes that were stolen completely — Fujis, Treks, Surlys. You can almost hear their cute little bells chirping. Estimates for stolen bikes in the U.S. between one and two million per year, and they’re difficult to get back because most people don’t write down serial numbers or register their bikes — and bike theft isn’t exactly law enforcement’s number one priority. The good news is that with a serious lock, proper locking technique and the good sense to take the darn thing inside at night, we’ll all meet again in the bike lane when the sun rises tomorrow.
Many of us remember the days of over-zealous and hyper-vigilant guardians of flight security; I’ve had children’s safety scissors, nail clippers (sans nail file), and three wooden toy swords (gifts for my sons) turned away in the name of national security. Being a serving member of the military didn’t help, even on the occasion when I was flying with both a service rifle and pistol on a contract aircraft.
The lifting of the Transportation Security Agency’s prohibition on knives brings both a boon for your every day carry (EDC) and a challenge in deciding on a folding knife that meets the TSA’s parameters. Wading into travel regulations and the many suitable sharp options on the market, we’ve picked five knives (plus a bonus) that will both get the odd job done and actually make it onto a plane.
Hone your inner survivalist
No, it’s not made especially for a zombie outbreak. The Lansky T.A.S.K. (Tactical Apocalypse Survival Kit) ($200) is aimed at avoiding (or taking down) whatever your own personal apocalypse may be. We break it down.
Better, faster, stronger
You’re not the guy who has a frequent buyer card at Sears, so you can’t always find the perfect tool in your less-than-organized garage. Perhaps a versatile multi-tool would be your best ally. Multi-tools have been around for twenty years, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Today’s multi-tools are better than ever, with innovative designs that are only limited by the imagination. If you’re wondering what all-around multi-tool to purchase, we have five of the best full-sized multi-tools on the market today.
Cold steel at a cool price
Cryo means “icy cold” in Greek; while it may call to mind a faint glimmer of hope that Walt Disney’s body is stored somewhere beneath Adventureland just waiting to be thawed, we’re mostly certain that in the Kershaw Cryo pocket knife($50) it simply means “cool”. Famed tactical knife maker Rick Hinderer, whose creations normally go…
You can tell a lot about a man by his EDC. Zippo, house keys, obligatory pocket knife, handgun, paracord, unspeakably cool shades — we’ve seen it all. The serious carrier, however, is sure to include a flashlight, and we recommend the LensLight Mini TAD Edition ($325) from Triple Aught Design. This miniature light is practical…
Jump starting your adventure kit
Whether it’s for your bug-out bag or your hiking kit, the fundamental survival items — knife, flashlight, multitool, your bag itself — make up 98% of what you’ll use and anchor your camp/hike/escape. The Gerber GO Bag ($274) gives you the whole kit and caboodle. Not only does it provide a laundry list of quality,…
Sitting Bull used his hands, your grandfather used a crowbar, and if you use either of those items today you’re being silly. Appreciation of the past doesn’t mean we need to suffer its inefficiencies. When seconds count, lives are at stake, or a nasty camp job needs an ass-kickin, the TNT Emergency Survival Tool ($215+)…
A list of locales that are not axe-friendly: your kid’s preschool; any school, for that matter; certain churches, chapels, mosques, temples and cathedrals; Apple stores. For everywhere (ok, not everywhere) else, there’s the Best Made Co. Duck Canvas Axe Case ($110+). This perfect answer for card-carrying axemen is designed with safety and protection in mind,…
The Japanese are known for minimalist design and intelligent engineering; Snow Peak embraces those values in its new Mini Hozuki Lantern ($40). Styled after a traditional Japanese paper lantern just like its larger sibling, the Hozuki Lantern, the mini Hozuki is an elegantly simple battery-powered camping light that weighs all of 2.4 ounces, lasts up…
When you need to do a hatchet job, best to have a hatchet at hand; however, sometimes the job requires you cut like a knife. For both occasions, the Gerber Combo Axe solves your tool dilemma, saving you from using the wrong cutter by storing a knife inside the axe handle. Both are outfitted with…
Sharpest tool(s) in the shed
Growing up in the boonies teaches you lots of things: at a young age, you knew that field dressing was neither a female garment nor a salad accessory; your childhood memories were made possible by lax zoning laws; and educating coworkers on the finer points of raising livestock isn’t as difficult as you thought. If…
Quickly as Charged
Bushnell is a brand synonymous with high quality outdoor optics, but when it comes to solar power the brand has been noticeably quiet. But all that may soon change as the company widens its focus (if you will) with their new line of PowerSync portable charging devices debuting next January. The lineup includes solar chargers…
Now there’s officially a headlamp for every scenario. The Black Diamond Sprinter ($54) is designed for low-light runs departing from a consistent base of operations (a.k.a. your home) and perfect for twilight or dawn workouts. As the first headlamp to tout a lithium rechargeable battery, you won’t have to deal with swapping out AAs, but…
The ray out
Gas powered generators are great but they’re not exactly portable nor convenient. Sun Flare Systems S.O.S in a Box solar powered backup generator systems are compact, powerful and just might save your bacon (and solidify your reputation as “the man”) in an emergency. It’s powered by the sun, thereby not requiring any liquid fuel source,…
The Milwaukee 6-in-1 Diagonal Cutting Pliers ($22) continues Milwaukee Tool’s tradition of useful rough and ready tools. Here, the tool replaces the bolt cutter, nail cutter, nail/staple puller, and wire cutter with one versatile cutting instrument. And not to leave good enough alone, Milwaukee has also added a reamer on the back of the plier arms…
Who needs matches?
Developed with the Special Forces in mind, the patented, flameless, anodized-aluminum Heatstick ($460) can quickly and turn your 1L Nalgene into a disinfecting kettle. Just attach the fuel, hit the igniter and integrate Heatstick into the included water container, or your own, and boom: hot, clean water. Ideal for turning freeze-dried rations into a outback…
Light the Way
Sound principles don’t always create success, but they certainly don’t hurt. The Bosavi Headlamp ($80) is a multi-purpose light backed by the fundamental axiom of usefulness, something too often taken for granted. While flexible-use lights abound, the Bosavi provides a quality of design and ingenuity that sets it apart. Environmental friendliness and quality hands-on manufacturing…
The latest addition to Wenger’s line of ergonomically-handled utility blades the RangerGrip 90 is all about the grip. Sporting a rubber grip insert within a high-visibility yellow recyclable handle, the 90 is ideal for sweaty palms in hot or tense conditions or stiff fingers in cold ones. The thickness of the four-layer multi-tool also gives…
For 80 years, Norwegian knife maker Helle has been building ornate, wood-handled knives that look every bit as good on your mantle as they do in your backpack. Interestingly, the company has lived to be an octogenarian without ever building anything but fixed blades. That all changes this spring with the Dokka folding knife. Helle…
So much for the Swiss being neutral
We’re not exactly sure how this happened, but alas, Victorinox Swiss Army released a glow-in-the-dark version of their most beloved Swiss Army Knife. While the color choice is one that would make grandpa roll over in his grave, it’s certain to be a hit among subcultures from coast to coast. For those of the hipster…
A lamp that utilizes the forces of gravity? Sounds gimmicky. But don’t judge a bud (sorry) by its cover. Instead of using E=MC2 for power, the Snow Peak Tulip Lantern ($150) relies on gravity to determine its method of light distribution. Inspired by the natural shape of a tulip bulb, the operation is deceivingly simple….