The slow creep of one wine collector's addiction

More Mature With Age

I come from a family of beer drinkers, firmly rooted in the blue-collar heritage of my grandfather’s construction and carpentry business. My father likes to say that it was his own skill at unskilled labor that paid his way through college. He whole-heartedly embraced the craft beer movement. My brothers share his taste for the malt, but my passion has been for wine.

Uncorked
Confirm your searing desires

10 Great Grills

From the Archives: Summer is bearing down fast, and no man passes up the opportunity to get outside and burn some meat (ok, and perhaps a vegetable or two). It is, simply, an integral summer experience, whether enjoyed in the backyard, at a tailgate, in the campsite or on your tiny urban front step. These are your grills.

Buying Guide
Riding a (blast) wave

Defense Journal: The MRAP

From the Archives: Studying the MRAP, the new line of transport vehicles for U.S. armed forces, protecting our soldiers against IEDs.

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.

The Commuter Issue
Simple tips for defending yourself effectively

Guide to Life: Take Down an Assailant

The best fight is the one the that never happens, the one you walk away from because the assault to your pride, your team, your girlfriend -- your whatever -- isn't worth ending your night early, the risk of injury (to you or the other guy) or jail. However, we recognize that sometimes walking away isn't possible. For those rare instances where you can't talk yourself out of violence, we offer simple counsel for defending yourself.

The GP Guide to Life
Examining the World's Most Advanced Special Ops Training Facility

Defense Journal: Kings of a Special Ops Playground

The bigger the boys, the bigger the toys. The U.S. military in general, and U.S. Special Op folks in particular, work especially hard to remain atop the fighting force pyramid. They play just as hard, as any amount of time spent in the bars around Fort Bragg, Virginia Beach, and Coronado will reveal. It’s the best of both worlds when a training facility allows military guys to fully test their skills in an extremely competitive environment -- and the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, or KASOTC (it rhymes with “aquatic”) is such a place. We take a closer look at this extraordinary facility and its annual Warrior Competition.

Defense Journal
Gifts for the Continent-hopper

12 Guys of Christmas: The Globetrotter

Your friend’s passport has addendum pages for the addendum pages and looks like Costanza’s wallet. It’s easier to count the countries he hasn’t visited than those he has. Travel-weary? Not a chance: this rolling stone likes to be moss-free, so we have the perfect collection of goods to keep your favorite road warrior in fightin’ trim. The tools below cover technology high and low, all to ensure the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. The lucky recipient of your generosity will easily navigate airports, checkpoints (TSA or Syrian Free Army), and resort lobbies with aplomb, arriving refreshed and relaxed, ready for the work (and play) ahead.

Gift Guide
A taste of the Northwest

Feast Portland: A Taste of Oregon, and Beyond

Feast Portland is more than just the story of food or chefs in the Rose City. While the bulk of the festival's events take place in Downtown Portland, Feast is about all of Oregon and its bounties: locally sourced meat and produce; fish from the Columbia River and surrounding waterways; wines of the Willamette Valley; and a craft beer industry that has made Oregon the number one state for brew artists and Portland the state’s epicenter. GP stopped in to enjoy the tastes.

Powerful Pedals

Garmin Vector

For truly superior training effectiveness on the bike, you need to unleash your full power. That means monitoring power output under real-world conditions, and for that there's no than the Garmin Vector ($1,700). With an unparalleled ease of installation and compatibility with any ANT+ head unit, the Vector gives you accurate power output at the pedal that's easily swapped between your road and tri bikes. But remember, only use your power for good -- like crushing the competition.

GP100
Ride smart and stay alive

Being Seen: Visible Cycling

Hey there. Yeah, you, riding along in your cool color-coordinated cycling team kit, all matchy-matchy. You look real spiffy, so neat you’ll make a great hood ornament. Because that’s where you’re going to end up -- on someone’s hood, or like me, under one. Those who really need to see you, can’t. In your fancy attire, you’re invisible to motorists.

Behind the Wheel: Star Motorcycles Bolt & Bolt R-Spec

A day of cruising sunny, funky San Diego is enticing enough without a brand new ride underneath you. All the better, then, when Yamaha brought us to downtown San Diego for a well-organized day aboard their new Bolt, an American-style bobber -- an exercise in convincing some die-hard riders that their bike is a viable alternative to Wisconsin iron.

Original Series
Full body, full wallet(?)

Want This, Get This: 2009 Chateau Petrus or 2011 Leonetti Merlot

You know the pinnacle of wine-making remains in France. Well, so do all those newly minted Chinese millionaires, and they’ve driven the price of Old World red wines sky high. This is especially true for top-end Bordeaux, which carry the highest cache among French wines. Those of us without a state-sponsored fortune, trust fund, or impending Wall Street bonus, however, have to look elsewhere for quality wine. Here are two splurge-caliber choices, made in the same style, of the same grape -- merlot -- though one comes without the inflation of appellation.

Brr Appetit

The Cold Dish Cheat Sheet: Eat Well, Stay Cool

Cool, moisture-rich dishes are perfectly refreshing in summer. Pulling ingredients from the fridge, or better yet, your backyard, and preparing them sans the uncomfortable added heat of an oven or stovetop is the ideal. In our cold dish primer, we examine five excellent cold-dish recipes, along with the "methodology" of preparing each type of food and optional accompaniments and alternatives to make your (picnic) table sing.

Smoke some grass

Blade Runners: 5 Great Riding Mowers for Under $2k

Though you might dream about dropping lotto-winning cash on a pimped-out riding mower, the truth is that you don't need to spend more than $2k for a mower that you can captain with pride. Whether you plan on doing your best Bill Murray (Caddyshack, not Lost in Translation) impression on your own personal links, or hope to trim a more modest green acres, we’ve got the riding mower for you.

Summer Preview
Confirm your searing desires

The Heat is On: 10 Best Grills

Days are getting longer and sleeves are getting shorter. Summer is coming in hot and fast and that means it's time to man the grill.

Summer Preview
1199 problems, but a Suzy ain't one

Want This, Get This: Ducati 1199 Panigale R or Suzuki GSX-R1000

Short on space in the garage? Gear Patrol’s new series, “Want This, Get This”, moves into a whole new vein this week, presenting a lust-worthy sportbike along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. Read on for the dream screamer and its reality-based substitute.

Fly-ready folders

Keep Calm Carry-Ons: 5 Best TSA-Approved Pocket Knives

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.

Buying Guide
Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting?

Defense Journal | Military Combatives: A Case Study

There's an assumption, fed by movies and a romanticized view of war, that every American military member is an e-lite hand-to-hand ninja, martial artist, and/or dynamo in the Octagon. While there are many men and women in the military with particular skill in close combat, that is a fact of prior interest, and rarely a result of training received in the military. It will strike many as odd, but the vast majority of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines possess no exceptional skill at close combat, despite Hollywood's glamorized portrayals to the contrary. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have each struggled over the years to develop close range combative skills, both armed and unarmed, within their ranks. We'll focus on the ground combat oriented services, specifically the Marine Corps, in our case study.

Defense Journal
Bad for running, worse for fighting

Combat Flip Flops

For a completely different idea on winning in Afghanistan, take a look at the brain child of two former Army Rangers and a friend. Working from the idea that we can’t kill our way to victory in a counter-insurgency conflict and from the inspired slogan, “Business, not bullets”, Combat Flip Flops ($65) promotes a strong Afghan economy to sustain and build on the successes of the past 10 years.

Defense Journal
Caffeinated Incursion

Combat Coffee: One Marine’s Tour of Caffeine

Despite being from Seattle, land of Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Tully and more than a handful of artisanal brewers, I didn’t come by my coffee habit honestly. The bitter drink didn’t cross my lips during college, despite the frequent all-night cram sessions wrought of a sporadic (home) work ethic. Coffee would have certainly improved the 12-mile bike commute in the cold Seattle drizzle at 0525, timed to maximize sleep, yet arrive before NROTC drill practice. Officer Candidate School (OCS) introduced me to new depths of sleep deprivation -- short sleep periods combined with intense physical activity turned us into zombies shuffling along. Military formations became an exercise in intense concentration, especially after I fell asleep standing up, only catching myself, and the platoon sergeant’s unfavorable attention, short of smashing my face into the parade deck. It never occurred to me to get a cup of Joe at the mess hall; the Bunn was situated directly in front of the area where the staff sat, a place to be avoided for danger of unwanted haranguing from the collective hyenas bent on finding your smallest flaw.

Defense Journal
An Embassy Guard Commander's nightmare, realized

Danger Abroad: An American Family Imperiled

Benghazi and the death of Ambassador Stevens with three other Americans reminded us that unstable frontiers are often dangerous places -- places Americans live and work for years, many times accompanied by their families. The bombing of the Ankara embassy adds a fresh splash of cold water. Most tours pass without incident, and most years go by without foreign service casualties. Occasionally, the third world devolves into shit, and the thin veneer of safety and security is stripped away, leaving Americans exposed to the turmoil of internal strife or the targets or terrorism. Here, Gear Patrol offers you an account of threats faced by a Marine assigned to embassy duty in Africa, and the real costs paid by his family.

Defense Journal
Rock Out With Your Crock Out

5 Best Slow Cookers

There’s a magic cauldron for preparing food — one you’re likely not using — that combines convenience, a near-guarantee against overcooking and the ability to transform inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into tender, flavorful dishes. This fire-and-forget-it tool? The slow cooker. A slow cooker, as the name suggests, takes low heat, moisture and a long...

Roundup
Debating the film account of Osama bin Laden's demise

Zero Dark Thirty: Best or Worst Movie of 2012?

Is Zero Dark Thirty the year's best movie or misleading sensationalism that advocates torture? The film's recent Oscar snub has raised the debate. Now, GP's own Scott Packard and Ben Bowers present intriguing discussion on morality in film, artistic license and "enhanced interrogation techniques". Read on for point and counterpoint on these divisive issues.

DEBATE
Oh, the places you'll go!

Where to Hide: Surviving Five Apocalypse Scenarios

So, you’ve been invited to participate in an apocalyptic event? What to wear, what to bring, who to party with; all important decisions. But the really important choice is where you’re going to experience this life-changer (life-ender?). The “where” selection is strongly influenced by what type of apocalypse you’re getting walloped by, and most importantly,...

Apocalypto
A different kind of pole dance

MSR SureLock TR-3 Trekking Poles

If you've ever used trekking poles with friction locks, you know they can be fickle and finicky -- slippage and tedious adjustment are par for the course. MSR's SureLock TR-3 allows you to navigate frequently changing terrain with an on-the-fly two-finger length adjustment system. That means no removing the gloves or poles from your hands to unlock, adjust, and re-lock your sticks.

Riding a (blast) wave

Defense Journal: The MRAP

Warfare is often a battle against change, and the U.S. military is always attempting to stay ahead of, or at least on top of, the curve. A fairly new yet significant player in this struggle is the MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. From seemingly nowhere, the ubiquitous “Humvee” (High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, or...

Original Series
Oh, Canada!

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

Our neighbors to the north, unjustly the target of crude jokes involving backwardness, snow and a strange dialect, have another reason for national pride. Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey ($70), though distributed by a Vermont label, uses 100% made-in-Canada rye whiskey. Whistlepig departs from the usual American experience of rye as the dominant but not sole...

12 gifts for the traveler

12 Guys of Christmas: The Globetrotter

These guys seem to have racked up a bigger airline status than Clooney and more time on the road than Kerouac. They call ports of call home and know how to navigate the TSA, border checkpoints and a nasty comped bar hangover with ease. Whether a job takes them to exotic first-world destinations or their...

Gift Guides

Herb Lester Luggage Tags

It seems like everyone traveling has the same black roller bag. Herb Lester Luggage Tags (~$7) stand out and dress up that carry-on with more panache than the “Big Tag” or a random scrap of fabric, saving you from opening your luggage only to find the outsized garments of the lady who filled Row 32....

Tactical dressing

Massif Collection

Clandestine ops are about blending in; fashion is often about standing out. The Massif Collection ($145+) brings military-grade construction to fashion-forward designs, creating a wardrobe of jackets, pants and shirts that work in the Hindu Kush and the cushy lounge. While the names of the different “looks” are a bit silly, the pieces are all...

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...

Gift Guide
Resistance is futile

Zerocaster

The Zerocaster ($26 each) was designed by a bona fide rocket scientist in a space lab to transform your office chariot into a veritable Ferrari, especially in the black and red color schema. Their axle-less, precision ABEC ball bearings and poly-urethane design draw inspiration from a traditional skateboard wheels, allowing desk chair modders to silently...

Fleeter feet

On Cloudracer

If the race goes to the swift, the swift are advised to go get a pair of On Cloudracer ($129) running shoes. 18 Cloudtec low-profile cushioning elements increase running efficiency, according to an independent research study (through the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) that showed a lower heart rate and reduced lactate buildup at a...

A sippin' beer

Samuel Adams 10th Anniversary Utopias

We’ve given you the Paul Harvey on the dethroning of the American King of Beers — now we bring you the heir apparent. This year’s Samuel Adams’s Utopias ($190), a special 10th Anniversary edition of their bi-annual offering, pushes the limits of beer brewing on three fronts: price, potency and flavor. A 29% ABV libation...

De-throning the Kings of Beers

Bitter Brew

Mom, baseball, and apple pie might just be the only things more American than Budweiser beer. Except Bud’s not — American, that is. Though the logo of the number-one-selling beer in the U.S. remains burned into our national psyche, Anheuser-Busch is now a wholly owned subsidiary, bought out in a 2008 hostile takeover by the...

Good breeding is everything

MoB | Beef Cattle Breeds

We’ve given you a beef baptism in buying beef online, the rules of store-bought beef, beef’s lesser-known cuts and even beef you can drink. Kicking things up a notch (BAM!), let’s explore the breeds of cattle that end up on your plate — putting a face on things, so to speak. Get your breed on...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Aether Altitude Jacket

Doing battle with black diamonds this winter means swapping your corporate suit for some waterproof armor. The Aether Altitude ($675) has the technical features to protect you from the slings and arrows of an outrageous fall line, September through May. The jacket’s three-layer Schoeller C_change fabric dynamically adjusts water vapor permeability as the temperature changes,...

Droning On

Defense Journal: A God’s Eye View

Much has been made of the rising use of American drones — both as a weapon in the counter-terrorism fight abroad and in support of law enforcement and border integrity at home. References to science fiction-run-amok quickly come to mind (HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the namesake Terminator, EDI of Stealth), and the...

Original Series
Extra Rare

MoB | Lesser-Known Cuts of Beef

You know the rib-eye, T-bone, porterhouse and NY strip, but how about the tri-tip, bavette or flat-iron? Expanding your repertoire of steak choices graduates you from a one trick pony to a culinary stallion of meat mastery. The tenderloin, that prized cut from which the filet mignon comes, makes up half of one percent of...

Behind the beef counter

MoB | The Story Behind Store-Bought Beef

Buying a steak to grill is as easy as trotting into the Piggly Wiggly, Vons or Safeway down the street and grabbing one of many plastic wrapped Styrofoam packages, right? Not so fast, kemosabe. If you’re the shy type looking to avoid eye contact or a conversation, that might be the way to go. You...

Productive contortionist

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Lenovo’s family of convertible devices, with names like Yoga and Twist, remind us of that gymnast/cheerleader/yoga instructor/circus performer we dated years back. Unlike that experience, where the novelty quickly wore off, the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist ($849+) proves useful for both work AND play. A serious productivity Ultrabook with passable multimedia hardware, the Twist’s screen turns...

An exposition on the FAST Platoon

Defense Journal: FAST and Serious

Editor’s Note: Last year, the Department of Defense spent $707 billion in defense, over $1 trillion when accounting for other departments like FBI counter-terrorism, Energy, and NASA — not to mention interest. It’s a colossal sum, and an equally imposing topic to cover — we’ll leave it to you to pick a front-line news spin....

Original Series

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