Binoculars are binoculars, right? Wrong. Bushnell’s Legend Ultra HD binoculars ($242) provide enough long-sighted quality for anyone but Seal Team Six wannabes, and at a price even the lowest Audobon member can afford.
Find your digital training partner
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That is true for endurance athletes tracking caloric expenditure and substrate utilization or weekend warriors just looking to stay fit. It is nearly impossible to know if you are getting stronger, faster and leaner without some tools for measurement. Thanks to our rapacious demand for data, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of devices and services to help improve performance, from GPS to power meters to physiological testing services.
But even with all these advancements, we still find ourselves asking more of the the same questions: What should I measure? What do I do with the data? What technology should I actually buy? To help answer these questions we’ve got five training technologies that will help give context to your rides, improve your performance and best your training buddies.
Great outdoors, great coffee
Something about sitting atop an unexplored peak to watch the sunrise while enjoying your favorite coffee just feels right. Maybe it’s the sub-freezing temperatures and obligatory wind chill, or it’s the all night trek catching up with you. With that in mind, we’ve got the best tried and true methods for brewing your favorite coffee for you next adventure, be it a weekend of car camping or a full blown backcountry expedition.
Who needs a bike to look cool?
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.
Stay warm in the woods
Nothing ruins a backpacking trip like a terrible night’s sleep (or a lack of clean underwear, but if you can’t figure that one out you’re beyond our help). A good sleeping bag is the key to staying warm and dry when you’re crashing under the stars — so you’re at your best crossing that next 8,000 foot mountain pass. Sleeping bag tech has made its way into the space age in the last few years: your 20-year-old bag from summer camp or the Boy Scouts is no longer up to snuff. Here’s our list of the best 20°F (or below) bags to ensure comfort and safety for three-season camping.
Survival on, brother
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.
Get more pep from your step
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.
Wear your heart on your chest
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.
You're welcome, snow
Anyone who’s ever been a kid knows that winter-long reputations can be made and broken on the sledding hill. And any dad worth his salt knows that acquiring an unbeatable mode of downhill transport is his own personal responsibility — one that’s not to be take lightly. The little ones should be shuttled over fresh powder on something sleek, impressive and enviable. Something like the Tenom Sled (~$129), designed by Konstantin Achkov.
Tough as an actual axe
The Alpaca Guitar more like “I’ll pack a…” than the animal, but we’ll assume that’s what they were going for. The Kickstarter project is all about turning everyone’s favorite campfire fun into a nigh unbreakable, waterproof piece of hiking gear.
Protect your hide
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.
Down With It
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.
Your dining room is now an obstacle course
Obstacles XRT ($2) (XRT stands for extreme reality training) isn’t particularly exciting from an innovation standpoint, and it won’t have Quantified Selfers jizzing in their Under Armour. What it does provide is a genuinely useful tool for motivated exercisers to do unique high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts from the comfort of their home or, more importantly, in the office common room, wearing a tank top.
One of the most glaring problems with surfing, biking, skiing and other sports is that you can’t film yourself third-person while alone. How are you going to post it to social media and impress everybody? For the lone wolf type, the Soloshot ($479) auto tracking camera mount is the complete cameraman-sans-cameraman, perfect for your next DIY adventure film.
Rack 'em up
Indoor bike racks come in all shapes and sizes, most of them trending toward “modern chic” or “classic natural”. Some just look like ugly contemporary sculptures. The Make 001 Bike Rack ($180), first product of fledgling design group Make, combines the best of both worlds with an unpresumptuous shape and clean design.
The M-65 waterproof fishtail parka was first used by the U.S. Army in the Korean War as a lightweight shell to keep soldiers dry. The design allowed soldiers to wrap the back of the coat around their upper legs for ease of movement and more waterproof surface. Recently the “hope I’m cool enough to stay here” Ace Hotel teamed up with Alpha Industries — known for military-inspired casual wear — to revive the storied coat. Retaining the classic M-65 style while updating it with a washed nylon shell, stay-dry seams and modern lines means you can throw this on and hike through unknown forest and muddy embankments before strolling directly into the board room, unscathed. Don’t whine to us if the muddy boots give you away, though.
New winter gear
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.
No cubes in this icebox
Guys like to climb stuff — trees, corporate ladders and, of course, icy mountains. The scarier, the better. The Black Diamond Ice Box ($80) is a great solution for storing lots of pointy gear that needs to be handy at a moment’s notice. The box holds four tools, a pair of crampons (stop giggling, dammit)…
Sick paddlin, brah
Northeast dwellers currently whimpering through this nasty cold snap may take solace in dreams of Three Brothers Paddle Boards ($1,200+). How can anyone not feel warm and fuzzy while imagining a calming upright cruise through warm coastal waters? Based out of Daytona Beach, Florida, Three Brothers hand shapes some of the best paddle boards —…
Know the course like the back of your hand
Golfers looking to escape the winter weather and start working on gloved tan lines will be all too happy to let the Garmin Approach S2 Golf Watch ($250) remove a stripe of sun from their arms and a few strokes from their scorecards. Much like the S3 Approach, the S2 comes preloaded with maps to…
Much like the carpenter, a skier is often no better than his equipment. Fit matters, weight matters and material matters, which is why freeride pros Eric Hjorleifson and Fredrik Andersson combined their decades of ski experience as inspiration for the Dynafit Beast 16 Binding. Available only in a limited run of 2,500, these bindings employ…
ForTiTude Fishing’s titanium spinning reel ($490) is stronger than the traditional aluminum and won’t rust or pit. This is especially vital in saltwater, where the elements attack gear like a piranha on a naive tourist’s leg. The solid titanium construction is also 30% lighter than aluminum. That means slinging your Rapala at the weed line all day won’t make you quite as stiff.
Get off the pipe
Leaving first tracks through three feet of fresh stuff on an uncharted backcountry run can be a spiritual experience — especially for snowboarders struggling to get off the pipe. It’s tough to be sure, as most lift tickets lead away from the Promised Land and deliver only crunchy corduroy runways back to the beast. To help powder seekers find salvation, Austrian manufacturer Splitsticks (~$1,800) has developed a complete splitboard package that conquers the mountain.
Serious Camp Solutions
Holding on to heritage for dear life while still being picky about efficiency, quality and practicality is taking the tough path — but produces the kind of results we dig. Bush Smarts, a New York-based builder, designer and sourcer of prime camp gear, has created a library of outdoor gear that eschews flash and gimmick…
I ain't afraid of no snow
Winter is the time of year when we reflect on those epic single track rides that cleanse the soul and remind us why we ride in the first place. But it’s also a season to remember that while you’re sitting on the couch with your rig hanging on a stand your fitness is disappearing faster than the sun. Let’s not let that happen. There’s no need to hang up the bike when it gets cold.
Now we're really piste off
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.
Best Made Co.’s latest camping accessory is made in the USA from solid white oak, duck canvas and solid brass hardware, producing a vintage aesthetic that would look right at home around both your grandfather’s campsite and yours. Since America’s not getting any lighter, the Camp Chair ($185) is built to support 350 pounds, both in chair or stool mode.
Just in case
A tsunami of protective cases soon follows every major smartphone release. Some are functional, some are stylish — but few are both, and most are forgettable. So when we were offered a trio of new cases from SYSTM to try out on an iPhone 5, we were understandably skeptical. A month of testing has proven…
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…
Split the work
You’ve got your cabin. Built it with your own contracting work, on land you inherited from a rich second uncle. All that effort! And now you’re expected to split your own wood for the long cold winter? Screw that. Ask grandma for the cash to buy a Homelite 5-Ton Electric Log splitter ($299) and relax with a Scotch on your wraparound front porch during all the free time you’ve earned.