Gear Junkie

Survival Straps Bracelet

Survival Straps Bracelet

“Wear it, unravel it, survive!” That’s the somewhat melodramatic but highly illustrative tagline for Survival Straps’ namesake product, a bracelet made of paracord that can be untied and unfurled in the outdoors in a time of need. Survival Straps is an operation based in Florida, and its workers weave a high-strength cord — “550 test military spec paracord,” as the company touts — into a variety of bracelet types. This month, I have been wearing the Regular Survival Bracelet model, which costs about $25. It is an inch wide and it looks like a bulky watch band on the arm. It clasps closed with a stainless steel shackle. The company (www.survivalstraps.com) includes two types of pins, one steel and one plastic, to lock the shackle in place. The plastic pin will break away and release the bracelet if your hand gets caught up on an object descending a...
Gear of the Future

Gear of the Future

This custom indoor bike system, invented by Paul Krumrich, melds home-theater components with a computerized resistance hub and bike-training software to allow a rider to become ensconced in a virtual experience. Image credit Stephen Regenold Outdoors equipment has come a long way from the days of hemp ropes, rain slickers, and hobnail mountain boots. But despite the leaps, I often find my gear lacking when truly pushed in the outdoors. As such, I offer below a fantasy wish list, a made-up line of upgraded products that would satisfy my wilderness wants and needs like nothing before ever seen. > Biodegradable Food Packaging This new type of earth-friendly packaging will make litter (and the inconvenience of hauling garbage out of the woods!) a thing of the past. Open an energy bar, a gel, or a bag of dehydrated camp food, and simply crumple up the packaging and toss it into the...
SPOT Connect

SPOT Connect

The sailboat bobbed in swells, our view to land obscured by a thick fog. It was early one morning this spring, and I was sailing along the Californian coastline en route from San Francisco to LA. Beyond cell-phone range, and out of touch with the world, I woke up my iPhone and started to type. Moments later a simple communiqué was being sent around the Earth — “Sailing this week! Off coast of Calif.” — and with it a notation of my precise place on the planet: 34.00024 latitude, -118.76839 longitude. Further, a link appeared with the message, which was seen on Facebook and Twitter, where anyone interested could click to zoom to a Google map and view in real-time my position in the Pacific Ocean swells. Among my arsenal of stay-in-contact communication devices, the SPOT Connect is unique. As described above, this small device links to a smartphone to...
Super-Size Trail Running Shoes

Super-Size Trail Running Shoes

In the past few years, a trend of super-sizing sports equipment like tennis racquets, golf clubs, and downhill skis has caught on with consumers. Whether it’s more power, more speed, or an ease-of-use upgrade, there’s little wonder why the enlargement effect has resonated in American culture, where “bigger-better-faster!” verges on a national theme. This leitmotif historically has not flown in the footwear world. Until now. Coming from an Italian company known domestically most for its downhill ski-boot line, Tecnica this spring unveiled a spread of mega-size shoes made for running on trails outside. Touted to have oversize geometry, copious cushioning, and a 30-percent bigger footprint overall, the Tecnica trail-running shoes come in men’s and women’s models. Benefits to the uber-shoes, Tecnica cites, include greater stability, better absorption, and a “rolling transition” sole design that promises more propulsion as you run. I tested the Diablo MAX shoe model, one of...
Oakley Prescription Glasses

Oakley Prescription Glasses

Oakley Inc. is known for its iconic (and often iconoclastic!) sports-oriented sunglasses, including innovative as well as simply strange frame and optics designs. Recently, I got a pair of relatively “normal” glasses from the company. Oakley’s Deringer frame now serves as my “wear-everyday” prescription glasses for work and home life. The Deringer is lumped into Oakley’s “lifestyle” category, meaning they are not built specifically for sports. But underneath a handsome,non-sporty look, the Deringers have features to make them usable for biking, running and other activities where a sport-specific frame might ordinarily be employed. For me, the frame’s multitasking nature is perfect. The design iscomfortable to wear all day, though it is solid enough on the face that the glasses will not fall off when you’re on a run. Grippy rubber on the bows make the glasses stick on your head. The nose pads adjust, and the bows have a flex...
Raw Crunch Bars

Raw Crunch Bars

The bars look and taste somewhat like compressed blocks of birdseed. Ingredients such as sea salt, goji berries, macadamia nuts, raw honey, and, of course, many types of seeds — flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower — make for a grainy texture that is nutty and rough on the tongue. Raw Crunch bars, the product of a small North Carolina company called Body Engineering Inc., are the latest in a pool of strange energy foods I have put to the test. Touted to contain “no artificial nothin’,” the bars are said to be uncooked, unprocessed, enzyme-rich, and made batch by batch each day in a kitchen by hand. Six years ago, with a goal to create a new type of energy bar, the founders of the company (www.rawcrunchbar.com) set upon a singular and humble objective: To make a bar with a full list of ingredients “we could actually pronounce.” The first bars...
Petzl ULTRA BELT ACCU4 Headlamp

Petzl ULTRA BELT ACCU4 Headlamp

For virtually any outdoors adventure, the right gear can give you an edge. But in few product categories does this ring as true as it does with lighting. For activities at night, an ill-performing headlamp, flashlight, or other source of illumination can literally leave you in danger and adrift in the dark. I have been there. On Wyoming’s Grand Teton, climbing with a friend a few years ago, we got stranded high on a cliff at night. Our ultra-light headlamps were too dim to reveal how far our rope reached as we rappelled off an edge and into the night. It was a dicey descent, though it taught me a lesson: Don’t skimp on lighting. In the world of gear, the right light for the job is something I now take seriously while planning any endeavor. To the point, in preparation for a calendar that included several nighttime events this...
Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

The Forerunner series of athletic-minded watches from Garmin Ltd. have gained a devotion with some athletes and exercisers that may only be described as cultish. But it is with good reason: Forerunner watches are top-shelf performers and they offer functions unlike anything else on the market. . . . To the point, the Forerunner series provides accurate and useful GPS functionality combined with all the fitness metrics an exerciser might want and need. For the past three months, I have had the Forerunner 310XT on my wrist. It is a big and solid watch, with a substantial $399 price tag to match. But for the money, the 310XT gives a stout waterproof design and an easy-to-use interface that measures your heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, altitude gained, and a litany of additional assets to track and quantify a workout in space and time. The watch’s stellar GPS functions impressed...
Interbike Expo 2010

Interbike Expo 2010

The annual Interbike Expo trade show, held last week, Sept. 22 to 24, in Las Vegas, is a gathering of cycling brands, dealers, designers, media and bike enthusiasts from around the globe. I traveled to Sin City for a quick trip and took two days to walk the Interbike floor. Here are a few items that caught my eye. … Light Bright — Do you bike at night? The Seca 1400 from Light & Motion surpasses the brightness level of some automobile headlights, the company touts. The handlebar-mounted blazer costs an astounding $699 but can pump out enough white light to turn night into virtual day. It runs for 2.5 hours on its rechargeable battery pack. Available now. www.bikelightingsystem.com . . . Flat-Less Bike Tire — Promising a Holy Grail of puncture-proof bike tires, Hutchinson Tires previewed its solid-core Serenity series. The “no-flat” tires have a foam-like material inside of...
SealLine Pro Pack

SealLine Pro Pack

It is obscenely huge. It fastens shut and watertight with a roll-top closure. A backpack harness system lets you strap it on and hike, ferrying immense loads through airports and down backwoods portage trails alike. SealLine-ProPacks The SealLine Pro†Packs are essentially giant vinyl duffel bags. They open wide to reveal a capacious hold that can swallow about 7,000 cubic inches worth of gear. I have used a SealLine Pro†Pack on a half-dozen trips this year, including for international travel as well as on a raft excursion where the pack was tied to the deck. At $169.95, the handy and bombproof bag — mine’s been dubbed “Big Yellow” — has proven its worth a few times over. The Pro Pack is 100 percent waterproof for terrestrial use. Rain, sleet, snow, or dripping cargo holds are no match for the thick vinyl fabric and roll-down top. If you plan to use it...
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