Gear Junkie

Gear We Love: ENO Upcycled Dog Collar & Leash

Gear We Love: ENO Upcycled Dog Collar & Leash

GEAR WE LOVE: ENO Upcycled Dog Collar & Leash by Eagles Nest Outfitters Longtime ASJ supporter Eagle’s Nest Outfitters, the company known for high quality backpacking hammocks, is now making dog collars and leashes from upcycled webbing. A true repurposing story, ENO’s dog collar and leash are made from leftover materials used in making hammock straps. Utilizing what was a 5-7% loss, the company has reduced their carbon footprint while making a durable and comfortable product for dogs. “It’s always nice to reuse and repurpose materials that ordinarily would be discarded,” said ENO general manager Lane Nakaji. “And we love dogs.” Two brothers who originally sold products out of their van started ENO in 1999. Today ENO hammocks are available in nearly 750 outdoor specialty stores across the nation including REI. For more information on the upcycled dog collars, leashes and hammocks, check out www.enonation.com....
The Gear Junkie — Skora Running Shoes

The Gear Junkie — Skora Running Shoes

Nike, New Balance, Saucony, Asics. . . the big boys used to be the only option when you stepped into a store in search of running shoes. No longer. These days, a mega-trend of footwear that is more minimal and “barefoot style” has pushed dozens of new brands into the spotlight. This month, I tested one of the more unusual new players. The brand, Skora Inc. of Portland, Ore., offers shoes unlike anything seen a few years back. Skora (www.skorarunning.com) has just two shoe models, including the futuristic Base and the fashion-oriented Form, the latter which is a lace-up shoe made with goat leather. Both are expensive ($125 and up) and hold a “zero-drop” midsole design as a hallmark. That means there is no rise in the shoe from the toes to the heel area, something the footwear industry now regularly promotes as offering a “more natural” running experience. Scant...
NuVinci Bike Transmission

NuVinci Bike Transmission

With a simple twist of the wrist, the promotional materials read, you can shift this bike in a way that’s “as easy as adjusting the volume on a radio.” As bike-industry marketing speak goes, the “radio” analogy was about as weird as I’d seen. But this month, while riding a new bike from Jamis called the Commuter 4, I could see the connection. The shifting on this city bike does not involve traditional gears. Instead, something called the NuVinci N360 transmission adds and subtracts resistance as you pedal for power and speed. As the company explains it, the NuVinci N360, which is made by Fallbrook Technologies, is neither a derailleur system nor an internally-geared drivetrain. It is a unique system that uses a set of large ball bearings inside a rear-wheel hub. No gear cassette is required to “change gears.” Instead the internal bearings rotate off each other in...
Fat Bike Trend

Fat Bike Trend

It was a frozen day in 2006 when I first swung a leg over the frame of a fat bike. Back then these large-tire bikes were made only by custom frame-builders who liked to pedal in snow and a single Minnesota brand, Surly Bikes, which mass-produced the first notable bike in the “fat” genre with its Pugsley frame. Wide rims, extra-large tires, and weirdly-dimensioned frames to make it all fit together define a fat bike, a cycling subcategory that’s garnered a serious following now in 2012. Bike shops report selling out of fat-bike stock. Brand managers at Surly and Salsa Cycles, another fat-bike maker, have told me demand this year has overwhelmed supply. What is the appeal? From improved traction on dirt to flotation when riding through snow, the obese tires let a bike roll where it has not rolled before. The wide rubber — 4+ inches across, or...
Omnijore Dog Harness System

Omnijore Dog Harness System

If my dog had a mantra it might be “Run free and pull!” He’s a brute, a 100-pound Weimaraner with a big chest and a propensity to get ahead on the leash and tug. A new kit from dog-gear company Ruff Wear was made for energetic dogs like mine. The Omnijore Joring System, $149.95, comes with a dog harness, a tow line, and a belt for the human to wear for “dog-powered” sports like ski-joring and canicross. Indeed, beyond dog sledding there exists a whole sphere of dog-pulling sports. The Omnijore system was made to be a one-size-fits-all kit to equip dogs and their owners looking to get into the wonderful world of “Run free and pull.” For years, custom dog harnesses have been available from small shops. Ruff Wear (www.ruffwear.com) brings the niche product to a bigger commercial level. You pick between a small, medium or large kit,...
‘Performance’ Cotton Underwear

‘Performance’ Cotton Underwear

Cotton underwear. Seriously, that is the topic of this week’s column. But these boxer shorts, made by Longworth Industries Inc. of North Carolina, are not knitted with your run-of-the-mill white fluff. Marketed as “performance underwear,” the company’s Polarmax AYG line of men’s and women’s boxers and briefs feature a special cotton type branded as TransDRY. The quick summary of TransDRY is that it is a fabric that looks and feels like normal cotton, but it breathes like a synthetic. The secret is in a chemical treatment applied to the threads that helps disperse moisture that might otherwise get caught up in the fine filaments on each cotton strand. In my use, the TransDRY treatment seems to work. I have worn the boxer shorts on long hikes and on backpacking trips that last a couple days. (No, I did not change my underwear the whole trip!) The TransDRY fabric is indeed...
Dog Gear 2011

Dog Gear 2011

My dog is a bit of a brute. At 100 pounds and more athletic than most humans could ever dream to be, Rodney the Weimaraner has a ripped physique and an impressive bark to match. He runs on heel or pulls on command, a hook-up for power on skis in the wintertime and a running partner by my side all year ’round. Living and getting out daily with a “fitness dog” like Rodney necessitates specialized equipment, and over the years I have acquired custom canine gear, fleece doggie jackets, and even fashionable items for workaday walks when I want my dog to stand out from the proverbial pack. The latest “fashion piece” for Rodney is a collar called the Kahuna. Made by Stunt Puppy, a Minnesota dog-gear brand, the oversize collar uses webbing that’s 1.5 inches wide and comes with funky patterns as well as stout construction for the big...
Knife with Light and Whistle

Knife with Light and Whistle

A blade, a light, and a whistle — that’s the formula for the Core Lite, a hybrid “survival tool” made by Adventure Medical Kits of Oakland, Calif. The company, known for its first-aid kits, also has a line of survival products, and the Core Lite is a new and unique addition for outdoors types looking to stay prepared for worst cases in the woods. The Core Lite’s short steel blade comes sharp enough to razor off arm hair. Its edge, just over 2 inches long, is touted to be able to cut wet tree bark to “expose dry inner wood” as well as be used for “notching and grooving branches” if you need to construct a shelter. In reality, your wooden wigwam would be a tough build with this little blade. It’s sharp and usable for any small task, though in my test the drop-point blade did not scream “durability”...
Packable Camp Pad

Packable Camp Pad

As a thin barrier between your sleeping body and the cold, hard ground, a camp pad has an important job. It must insulate first and foremost, keeping you warm above the earth’s chill. Comfort comes in at a close second place for pads — the thin mattresses should shield from sticks and rocks and provide cushion. Finally, packability — how small can it stuff down for transport — is an important piece for anyone living out of a backpack for a few days in the woods. The Zor SHORT, a new pad from NEMO Equipment, hits a sweet spot to balance out this criteria. At 10 ounces, it is lightweight and it rolls up almost as small as a water bottle. But the pad, at 1 inch thick, grants warmth and comfort even on rocky ground. I tested the pad last month in the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah. There...
‘Cold-Prep’ Camp Food

‘Cold-Prep’ Camp Food

The quest for camping food that is simple to make just moved a notch. With its new Chicken Salad product, Mountain House offers campers and backpackers a freeze-dried meal that requires nothing more than cold water and a short wait. Until now, most all freeze-dried food companies recommended hot or boiling water for the reconstitution of “instant” camp food. But with its Chicken Salad product, which costs $6.50 a pack, Mountain House (www.mountainhouse.com) has formulated a mixture that necessitates no heat. Add a small dose of cold water to the powdery mix and stir. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Presto, your meal is ready to eat. I tried the Chicken Salad out this summer on flat bread. The company uses white chicken meat and a mix of ingredients including cranberries, pumpkin seeds, corn starch, onion bits, vinegar, chives, and sugar. The result is a chicken salad...
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