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Testing the Cotopaxi Cusco 26L Backpack

A Backpack That Does Good (And Performs Well, Too)

Cotopaxi’s Cusco 26L pack is a sturdy lifestyle daypack that lends itself to durable longevity, but still offers relevant technical features often overlooked in “lifestyle” packs.

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A Road Warrior’s Best Friend

For Seasoned Travelers, the iPhone 6 Plus is a Worthy Upgrade

Starting at $749, the 6 Plus is also the most expensive iPhone ever produced, but it offers jetsetters, journeymen, and tried-and-true road warriors a few things that no Apple smartphone has before. After traveling around for a week with the 6 Plus, I’m confident in at least one thing: it’s a must-have for those who can’t seem to stay in one place for long.

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iRobot's Scooba 450 is WALL·E without the feelings

Never Mop Your Floors Again

Pop quiz: The iRobot Scooba 450 is (a) a nice alternative to a cat, (b) going to sleep with your wife, (c) a really effective cleaning tool.

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Pat's Backcountry Beverages Supplies Passable Camp Beer and Excellent Soda

For Happy Hour in the Backcountry, Just Add Water

Leave it to an Alaskan to invent a new way to drink alcohol outdoors. Pat Tatera, the founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, developed a system for carrying concentrated forms of both alcohol and soda into the wild for hikers to make their own carbonated beverages in minutes with the help of stream water and small carbonation pouches.

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No Service, No Problem

Adventurer or Assassin, GoTenna Takes Peer-to-Peer Communication Off the Grid

What do hikers, disaster survivors and Walter White have in common? They all need to communicate without a cell tower. The goTenna is a portable long-wave radio emitter (the walkie talkie of 2014) that allows users to text and share GPS information without cell service.

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Is a dedicated TV streaming device irrelevant? It depends

Tested: Slingbox M1

It’s easy to think that the ground made up by “TV Anywhere” streaming services from television providers as well as on demand resources like Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO GO have made owning a dedicated device like the Slingbox M1 irrelevant. But is that really the case? After spending a few days testing the newest member of the Slingbox family, the realistic answer is: it depends.

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Does a start-up hold the key to a better night's sleep?

Tested: Casper Mattress

The quest for a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be taken lightly and, after spending hours in showrooms full of mattresses, you’d be wise to consider the new Casper ($500-$950) mattress, which seems aimed to catch the traditional mattress world napping.

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Just add mountains

Tested: Casio ProTrek PRW-6000Y-1A

While Casio’s G-Shock series has the extreme sports category on lock down, their ProTrek line is blazing a trail in the world of outdoor adventure. In many ways, it’s about the most trustworthy, comely companion a beginning mountaineer could need.

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My Soccer Ball is Smarter Than Your Honor Student

Tested: Adidas miCoach Smart Ball

Kick the Adidas miCoach Smart Ball and your phone will record its speed, spin, point of impact and trajectory. It’s amazingly fun, but is it worth $299? We tested it to find out.

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The Revolution is Here

Tested: Northern Brewer One Gallon Homebrew Kit

If you haven’t yet joined the home brew revolution, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. We test out one starting point, the one gallon home brew kit from Northern Brewer.

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A Big, Bad Watch Gets Bigger and Badder

Tested: Suunto Ambit2

We get our hands on the Ambit2 from Suunto, the best watch in the business for serious outdoor adventurers looking to track all of their data over an entire weekend trip.

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The fitness tracker that refuses to fit in

Tested: Misfit Shine

What makes a good wearable? Comparing a laundry list of features is one way to start the conversation. The Misfit Shine proves, however, that there’s still something to be said for keeping it simple.

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Lighting the way, from Yellowstone to Haiti

Tested: Goal Zero Lighthouse 250

Goal Zero’s latest rechargeable lantern, the LightHouse 250 ($80), is a versatile light source suited for all regions of the globe. But does its on-paper usefulness translate to the real world? We tested it, from hand-cranking to device charging.

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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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Play Through

Tested: Playing through Monument Valley

Since 2010, several iOS games have tried to match Infinity Blade’s incredible combination of artistry and narrative, our favorites being The Room and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP. On April 3rd, 2014, a new challenger stepped into the arena: Monument Valley, an M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game made by indie developers ustwogames.

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Release the Titans

Redefining the Single Player Experience… With Robots

Titanfall starts with some 1960s stock footage of rockets. There is a voiceover. From what we can understand, a group called the militia is battling a group called the IMC. Then we’re in the game, running on walls, and that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. This is Titanfall‘s big bet: that players, so intent on shooting really big weapons at really big robots, won’t care that the game lacks any sort of discernible plot or campaign. And it works — to an extent.

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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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From Delphi to Your Kitchen

Tested: Breville Oracle

Every once in a while, a product so revolutionizes your day that you feel compelled to brag to your friends about it. You fantasize about it throughout the day, and when you go to sleep, you can’t wait to get up, just so you can jump out of bed and use it. That good. Such is the case with the Breville Oracle, which promises — and delivers — high-quality, easily made espresso at home.

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Comfort and sturdiness, put to the test

Tested: ECCO BIOM Terrain Plus

Over the years we’ve owned a number of different hiking boots in a continuous search for just the right balance of sufficient support, stability, and grip without being so rigid and heavy that they feel like Tony Soprano concrete specials. Recently we had the opportunity to try the BIOM Terrain Plus ($230) from ECCO, a brand we knew only as the maker of grandpa’s “most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear!” Of course we were skeptical about where they would rate on that scale of comfort and stability — and, equally as important, whether we’d want to be seen wearing them on the trail.

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When his dogs are barking...

Tested: Governor Baxter Mackworth Dog Bed

Governor Baxter — named after the famous 1920s governor of Maine who purchased Mount Katahdin as a gift for the state — is the retail arm for James Phinney Baxter White, a Maine craftsman dedicated to producing high-quality goods from classic and proven materials. His Mackworth Dog Bed ($395) is the most ambitious project for the brand to date and a dream solution for both dogs and their magnanimous owners.

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Putting a Solar-Powered Purifier through its paces

Tested: SteriPEN Freedom Solar

Our attitude about drinking water is better safe than sorry, particularly when traveling outside the United States in places where water is known to be contaminated. We sent our correspondent to Costa Rica for the final installment of The Road to La Ruta armed with the SteriPEN Freedom Solar ($105). While the water in Costa Rica is generally safe to drink, the CDC warns of hepatitis A and typhoid — and we didn’t want that coming back to HQ.

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A Basketball coach, literally

Tested: 94Fifty Basketball

This year, the basketball gets a new update in the form of the 94Fifty ($295), a Bluetooth-enabled basketball that pairs with your mobile device to track shot speed, dribble force, control, spin, and acceleration. Posted to Kickstarter on March 5th, it crushed its $100,000 goal in a little over a month. We took it for a test run.

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Pressurized hydration

Tested: Geigerrig Rig 500

It doesn’t take a degree in developmental psychology to know that guys have an enduring attachment to backpacks. Messenger bags, tote bags, duffels — all great, but backpacks are hands-free, versatile and have more sophisticated storage options for gear and the lunch mom packed…or whatever. Faced with a quick international trip or a tough physical challenge, we’ve usually got a backpack in tow, and at the 20th anniversary of the Vermont 50 ultarmarathon, we leaned on the Geigerrig Rig 500 ($130) for our hydration and storage needs during an all-day run.

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Power to the people

Tested: Stages Power X9

Power was the single metric I was looking to improve during the lead-up to La Ruta. I became power savvy by establishing my baseline watts at lactate threshold and VO2 Max during the F.U.E.L. testing we covered in Part II and then had the next six months to train against these numbers to improve fitness and manage nutrition on long rides. Yet I still had just one gap in my arsenal of gear: a power meter for my mountain bike. The Stages Power X9 ($700) is both new and affordable relative to other power meters, so I decided to give it a test run.

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Better Than Average Joe

Tested: Brazen Coffee Brewer

For those who believe that little things make good coffee, the Brazen Brewer ($199) offers a mid-range drip machine with technology and temperature accuracy most often found on higher-end models. We put it through its paces as our office brewer for a week.

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An Ambit-ious watch for triathletes

Tested: Laying Bricks with the Suunto Ambit2 S

There are three reasons to wear the Suunto Ambit2 S, specifically: swim, bike, run. This GPS watch from Finland-based Suunto is designed specifically for the multisport athlete, capable of capturing all of the important data in each of the triathlete’s disciplines. All of this data can then be uploaded to an account on Suunto’s movescount.com, where you can analyze it, track progress over time and see how you stack up to other users. Jeremy Berger strapped it to his wrist for some grueling brick workouts.

limits-promo-logoThis review is part of a new original GP series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.