Welcome to Sports and Outdoors Staff Picks. Each week, we select our favorite pieces from the gear coming across our desks, in addition to mainstays in our kits. We show you glimpses into the gear we’re testing and what we’re stoked on. Have something you think we should check out? Or just want to say hi? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Wing Beckman Round Boots
I’ve had mine for a few years, and they’re just coming into their own in terms of broken-in comfort. At Christmas, my girlfriend’s dad picked them up, and then picked up his ultralight modern hikers, and marveled at how much heavier mine were. But when there’s a sea of slush and rock salt underfoot, they feel just right.
— Chris Wright, Associate Editor
Merino Wool Buff
The gear I choose to keep in my kit has to be versatile. It’s the reason I always have a vest on hand, and why I opt for a hard shell and midlayer combo while adventuring out in the backcountry over an insulated jacket. Merino wool is the king of versatility. It regulates temperature incredibly well in both cold temps and warm ones, is naturally anti-microbial, and breathes better than anything else on the market. Whether I’m in the city or out in the woods, a merino wool Buff is a staple in my setup. I use it as a hat, neck gaiter or balaclava. Winter mountain biking, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking and running are all no match for the merino wool Buff’s versatility. — AJ Powell, Associate Staff Writer
Klean Kanteen Insulated 16–Ounce Mug
Without coffee, winter would seem like a goddamn ice age. Even in winters like the one we’re having now in NYC — distressingly warm, with more rainy days than snowy ones — I fiend for piping-hot stimulants to lift my spirits and keep my body from turning to stone. (Hot toddies help, too.) This insulated mug holds both hot and cold liquids wonderfully, and keeps ’em at a good temperature all day long. Could I survive winter without it? Probably. But I’d be miserable to be around. — Michael Finn, Editorial Apprentice
Ortovox Kodiak Shovel
Avalanche safety requires more than just a shovel. You’ll need a transceiver, a probe, a pack to put it all in, an airbag if you can afford it, a brain full of know-how, and a buddy with all the same stuff. A shovel is a good place to start, though, and a good one can be used for building kickers and snow shelters while you assemble the rest of your kit. The Kodiak is beefy — it has an extra large (and extra sharp) blade, a 22.8–inch telescoping aluminum shaft, and a big D-shaped handle. That handle is important. You don’t want to be fumbling around with a cheap or minimalist design that isn’t incredibly functional when every second counts. D stands for “dig,” get it memorized. — Tanner Bowden, Editorial Intern