All posts in “Gear”

Locky Smart Key Overlay

The Locky is what you get when you combine the features of a smart lock and a key tracker. This ingenious key overlay sends out notifications for unlocked doors and if you left the key on the knob.

It provides real-time door status anytime and anywhere. It tracks key usage and sends the data to a companion app that is compatible with most Apple and Android smartwatches and with Fitbit.

The great thing about this device is that it’s unhackable, unlike the virtual key. It simply works as a key overlay but with the smart applications of a home security system. It works with any type of key and installation only takes seconds– simply insert your key into the overlay and push anytime you want to use it and slide the key back in after use (like a pocket knife).

The physical movement of the key turns on the electronic circuit of Locky and the IMU sensor immediately detects and defines the movement of the key. The built-in Bluetooth sends the door status data to the app while the ringer signals events and generates the key finder sound in cases of misplaced keys.

The Locky comes with a replaceable battery that lasts for 14 months. A master key version is also available, which uses beacon stickers to unlock multiple doors.

Get Yours Here

Photos Courtesy of Locky

Kompanja Camper Van

Check out this gorgeous new camper from Kompanja, converted from a standard Renault Trafic 3 commercial van. It focuses on adding utmost comfort to all your adventures in the great outdoors. Of note among the various change-ups is the popup roof, providing a more airy feel to any getaway.

The Kompanja camper van sports swiveling seats up front and can sit six people in total, with plenty of room left for all your haul. The convertible sleeping area is fairly roomy and provides a quaint little sanctuary as opposed to cramped. We’re also talking modern amenities here. You get a refrigerator, a single-burner range for all your cooking needs, and a prep table that folds out of the sliding door and can be stowed away when not in use.

Amazingly, the Kompanja camper van retains a smaller footprint than most campers. It allows you to travel more easily without sacrificing comfort and homeliness. It’s the ideal blend between compact and function. It’s big enough to provide a safe, cozy space in the wilderness. However, it’s small enough for all your travels to be hassle-free.

This isn’t just for camping, by the way. Thanks to the van’s small size, you can take this anywhere even without camp in mind, like if you’re wanting some escape from the hustle and bustle of the city after a hard day’s work. Write your new novel near the forest, set up a campfire in the woods, compose folks songs under the starlight — whatever it is, you can just get up and go.

MORE INFO HERE

Photos courtesy of Kompanja

100+ Holiday Gifts Under $25

Looking for a handful of last-minute presents or quality stocking stuffers? Shop these inexpensive finds and pick up the perfect gift for whoever’s left on your list.

Sufferfest FKT Beer

After an intense workout, you’re going to want a drink. Sufferfest is the beer made by athletes, for athletes. It’s gluten-removed with black currant and salt added into the brew, so you’re getting some much-needed electrolytes after a sweat. While we can’t attest to any gains you’ll see after this, we can totally agree that a good can of beer is much needed after a Tough Mudder, Ragnar Relay and many other activities.

GSI Outdoors Essential Travel Spoon

Forks don’t exist in the backcountry. Seriously, you can eat anything with a spoon, and tiny-tined sporks never really work anyways.

Worn & Wound Microfiber Cloth


Yeah, yeah, we get it — it’s just a cloth. But a microfiber cleaning cloth is a watch enthusiast’s best friend; use it to get those pesky smudges off your beautiful vintage Carrera, or you know, your $100 Timex — it’s all the same. This Worn & Wound microfiber cloth measures 7.5″ x 7.5″ and is chemical-free, washable and reusable.

Blue Plant Based Poop Bags

If there were ever a time to use clap emojis, this would be it. Pick. Up. That. Poo. And do it with these bags from Blue — they’re made with eco-friendly plastic, won’t leak and come with a nice message printed on them.

Allagash Beer Soap

There’s a good chance your drinking buddy has heard of Allagash Brewing Company, the Maine producer largely responsible for introducing Americans to Belgian-style beer back in the ’90s. But they probably didn’t know Allagash also makes soap that features its beer as a core ingredient. Put a bar in their stocking and pair it with a couple bottles of White, the brewery’s famous flagship Witbier.

Natrapel Bug Spray

Throw this 3.4-ounce bug spray in your pack before heading out into the dense woods or fields. It’s DEET-free, but comes recommended by the CDC. Spritz once and you’re good for up to eight hours.

Allagash Beer Soap

There’s a good chance your drinking buddy has heard of Allagash Brewing Company, the Maine producer largely responsible for introducing Americans to Belgian-style beer back in the ’90s. But they probably didn’t know Allagash also makes soap that features its beer as a core ingredient. Put a bar in their stocking and pair it with a couple bottles of White, the brewery’s famous flagship Witbier.

Strava Premium

If you’re a runner or cyclist, Strava is the legit way to document your miles. Whether you’re competing against a team or signing up for another virtual 5K race, Strava provides you with all the tools you need to explore more, train better and share your data easily. The premium version also includes real-time location so you can go off on a trail run and ping your important contacts while you’re safely being tracked.

Reefsafe Mask Defogger

If the old spit and rub tactic isn’t appealing to your SCUBA diver, try this mask defogger and cleaner. It’s biodegradable and non-toxic to the animals and plants under the ocean surface, so you don’t have to worry about adding to any pollution or harming anything. As an added side benefit, it also works on swim and ski goggles, so you can truly use for all eyewear-needing adventures.

Nite Ize SpotLit

Anyone who has owned a dog and lived near a treeline knows the dog will inevitably sprint into the woods at night. This is where Nite Ize’s handy, cheap collar light comes in. The $6 waterproof LED bulb is about as low-maintenance as useful dog gear gets.

Sipwell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

An easy way to save the earth’s oceans and make everyone happy is to invest in a reusable straw. Starbucks, American Airlines, Hyatt and more have already pledged to phase out plastic straws, so now is a good time to hop on board. SipWell stainless steel straws come in a set of four and include a free cleaning brush, which is very useful in case you try a smoothie one morning and iced green tea the next.

Friction Ball Case Back Opener


If you have a watch with a screw-down case back, sometimes you can twist the back off using this simple friction ball rather than a specialized wrench. While we wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself without good reason (it lets in tiny dust particles and other grime), if you need to open a screw-back, this cheap tool is essential.

Spring Bar Set


Changing straps on your watch is a fun and easy way to change its personality, but do this enough and you begin losing spring bars. This set has 360 spring bars in 18 different sizes to help you feed your strap hobby. Keep this thing in your desk to stave off frustration when a 19mm spring bar goes flying off under a piece of furniture.

K&H Pet Products Crate Pad

Out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, K&H Pet Products is most known for making versatile, vet-recommended pet gear that doesn’t break the bank. Its crate beds embody this to a tee — they start at $8, you can get them in self-warming or odor control varieties and they come in a few different colors.

Polywatch


Perhaps the greatest gift to mankind after Yodels and business class seating on long-haul flights, Polywatch is a mild abrasive paste that you use to clean acrylic watch crystals. Simply squirt some on a polishing cloth, work it into the crystal for a couple minutes, and voila! Bye-bye, scratches.

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Mini Patches

You’ve used the same puffy down coat for years when all of a sudden you catch it on a crag and it rips. If you can’t part with it, but it needs a second life, Gear Aid tape will hold it together. Tack these on tents, rain jackets and snow gear to extend the life of some of your favorite items. It sticks to everything: nylon, polyester, vinyl, even Gore-Tex. To make each patch last longer, cut to the exact size you need and save the rest.

UnTapped Lemon Tea Mapleaid

Pro cyclist Ted King’s take on endurance fuel is to keep it simple and natural. That’s why he relies on maple, which is fortified with minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, and is the key ingredient in UnTapped’s performance drink mix.

Tiger Balm

Whether you’re just starting a new workout routine or hit the gym five days a week, it’s likely that you need a quick fix to muscle aches and pains. Rub the non-staining Tiger Balm on your skin and feel a warm tingle. The herbal blend contains camphor and menthol to elicit that “ahh” feeling.

Camelbak Podium 24oz Bottle

You’d think that any old water bottle would do in cycling. You would think. CamelBak’s Podium, through its shape, squeezability and comfortable valve, outperforms any other in the bottle cage and it’s wildly cheap, too.

Wild One Tennis Balls

Wild One is a new brand with cutesy branding and cutesy products — like this these tennis balls. As it turns out, most match-ready tennis balls are not great for a dog’s mouth since they’re made of an abrasive felt that can damage gums and teeth. These aren’t, and they’ve got a rubber core for extra bounciness — because why not.

Runner’s High Chill AF Plus+ Muscle Rub

This all-natural muscle rub acts like IcyHot but features hemp extract, sunflower oil, menthol crystals, essential oils of wintergreen and beeswax. After a tough gym session, rubbing this onto sore arms, legs and back muscles is a good idea. The pinon, arnica flowers and peppermint essential oil are said to be anti-inflammatory, which athletes can always use.

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

While this might feel like a bit of a splurge for a spork, Snow Peak’s titanium utensil looks great and does it all. The prongs, scooped middle and crisp edges mean this is a knife, spoon and fork all in one. It’s made in Japan and built with perfection in mind, so you’ll never rebuy another spork.

Kent Sawcut Grooming Comb

Your hair deserves the best, so snag something that’s easier on your scalp and hair — and will last longer than that $3 plastic comb you snagged at Walgreens.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Even if you’re not interested in surfing, this adventure memoir by William Finnegan is worth a read. It provides insight on what happens when surfing becomes a way of life. Finnegan learned how to surf as a child and traveled to surf some of the most famous waves throughout his life. If you need more convincing, the book is also a Pulitzer Prize winner.

TriggerPoint MobiPoint Textured Massage Ball

If you love the gym, you know how important recovery is to your training. TriggerPoint is the name of the game for all things mobility related, and this massage ball works to roll out any tight spots in your feet and hands. It’s just two inches by two inches by two inches, making it easy to throw in a gym bag or briefcase.

The Surfer’s Journal

Since 1992, this beautiful magazine has dedicated itself to telling unique and unusual stories around surf culture. Throughout the 132-pages of each edition, you’ll experience everything that runs parallel to a surfer’s vein. Each issue will catapult you to far away lands and waves.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid Pole Straps

These flexible rubber straps are great for everything from lashing extra gear to your pack to stepping in as a toe strap in the event of a failure.

Loksak Aloksak Drybag

Let’s face it, sometimes the weather changes unexpectedly, and our sunny camp setup gets soaked by a passing rainstorm. The Aloksak bags are certified to keep your phones, tablets and all other technology dry, even when submerged (up to 200 feet). Never worry about humidity, sand, snow or water affecting your gear again.

Clockwork Synergy Perlon Watch Strap


A “perlon” is a type of braided nylon, pull-through strap that can completely change the look of a watch, and works great during the summer when it’s just too damn hot to wear leather. This option from Clockwork Synergy comes in tons of colors and will spruce up just about any watch.

Pintrill × Gear Patrol Air-Cooled Coupe Pin

There’s more than one way to show your love for cars. You can always go the overt route with flags and banners. Or, you can employ a dose of subtle class with a Pintrill × Gear Patrol Pin.

TriggerPoint Massage Ball

Recovery is the name of the game in sports these days. If you’re not getting enough sleep, stretching and eating right, your body might revolt. TriggerPoint’s deep tissue massage ball helps you get at any tension points in your body to release muscles and promote blood flow to tight areas. Roll out your glutes, pecs, traps and more with this little ball.

Swrve Topo Map Mug

When you’re stuck at the office, Swrve’s Topo Map mug will help you envision loamy forests and berms made of hero dirt that you’ll be ripping come the weekend.

Good To-Go Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Just because you’re in the woods doesn’t mean you have to eat like a barbarian. Avoid the rehydrated slop and reach for something made with ingredients like raw organic cacao powder and ancho chiles.

Field Notes Expedition 3 Pack

Ever try writing on paper when it’s raining? Field Notes took aim to solve that problem in its Expedition Notebook. Printed on Yupo Synthetic paper, it’s an amazing tearproof and waterproof paper extruded from polypropylene pellets that is made to withstand the elements of Antartica. Add in the high-visilibity Antarctic Survey Orange cover and you’ve got a notebook that won’t ever fail you.

Casio World Time AE1200WH-1A

As much as we all love beautiful luxury timepieces, a watch that’s pure function — like this $14 Casio — has some special appeal. But that’s not to say this is a featureless or boring watch. Even at under $20 it manages to pack in a world-time function, 5 separate alarms, and a backlight for the entire screen. One of our staffers ended up buying this watch to wear while riding motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs, so as not to damage his expensive mechanical watches, and he loved the Casio so much he bought another one to keep in reserve. Trust us, that’s a ringing endorsement.

Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm

Never ride without lip balm in your pocket. This Mojito lip balm from Malin+Goetz is some of the best out there.

KT Tape

When you’re an athlete, staying injury-free can be a tricky thing to do. Sometimes we push ourselves a little too hard and end up nursing a hurt hamstring or calf for longer than we’d like. KT Tape provides support and mobility for your muscles while reducing tissue pressure to help you recover faster. Most athletic trainers or physical therapists can help teach you how to properly apply KT tape so that you can get back to normal, sooner.

Lululemon City Trek Crew Socks

If you’re looking for a sharp pair of socks that can go with you on urban commutes and keep your ankles looking good during squats and lunges, these soft and stretchy socks are ideal. The foot-specific design and seamless construction mean no chafing and some much-needed arch support for however many miles it takes for you to get into work and to the gym.

Voke Tabs

There are few things worse than bonking when you’re still a handful of miles from the trailhead. Keeping a few Voke Tabs in your pack will save you on just such an occasion. Voke Tabs are all natural energy chews designed to give you that extra boost of energy. If you need more convincing, they’re endorsed by world class mountaineer Conrad Anker.

Sea To Summit 20L Lightweight Dry Sack

The Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sack is the outdoor company’s most versatile dry sack. It’s made from a lightweight 70D waterproof, durable nylon fabric that is sturdy enough for water sports yet light enough for backpacking. It utilizes a waterproof hypalon roll-top closure with a D-ring attachment point at the buckle. In addition to keeping your gear dry, a white interior lining means you’ll never have to waste time searching for items packed deep in your bag.

Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic

Fisher Space Pens can write underwater and in space. Maybe that seems unnecessary for the city-based outdoorsman you know, but it’ll also write just as well in a neighborhood cafe (and it works well with Field Notes’ waterproof paper).

Red Wing Natural Leather Conditioner

Preserve the life of your favorite pair of leather boots with this conditioner, from one of the most trusted boot brands in the world.

CamelBak Quick Stow Flask

This time of year, it might be worth it to mix up your fitness routine, lest you get bored lifting the same weights in the same corner of your gym. Head outside for a run, hike or bike and the fresh air will do you good. One accessory you must pack is a water bottle. The bulky non-collapsible kind might work indoors, but outside, you want something sleeker. CamelBak’s Quick Stow Flask holds 17-ounces of water, fits in hydration vests and has a self-sealing valve, so it doesn’t leak all over.

Smartwool Hike Medium Crew Sock

Smartwool Socks and hiking boots go together like peanut butter and jelly. Designed for rugged day hikes and moderate backpacking, the Hike Medium Crew Sock uses a merino wool blend that optimizes thermal regulation to warm up and wick moisture depending on your foot’s temperature. Moderate cushioning underfoot absorbs impacts for thousands of steps you plan on taking on trails.

GSI Outdoor Boulder Flask

GSI’s Boulder Flask is the perfect vessel to transport said whiskey because it’s lightweight and nearly unbreakable. Plus, it’s one of the few flasks that’s clear, so you can see when you’re starting to run low.

Antidot

While the gym you visit now likely smells fresh and clean, your gym bag might be in sad shape. How often do you sweat through your clothes and shoes, then toss them in your pack to take home and wash later? That sweat seeps into your gym bag, and it can be hard to get rid of. This fragrance footwear freshener spray can extend the life of both your sneakers and your gym bag. A two-ounce bottle lasts up to three months even with daily use. Spritz, spray and go.

BrainWavz Truss Headphone Stand

But, if you don’t have enough desktop space to have a traditional headphone stand, get this. It sticks to the underside of your desk — incognito — and has two hands to hold two pairs of headphones.

Well & Good Oatmeal Dog Wash

Yes, oatmeal. This one moisturizes dry skin, alleviates itchiness, softens dogs’ coats and smells pretty decent (for dog shampoo). It’s ideal for dogs with sensitive, itchy or dry skin, but works just like any other vet-recommended wash on dogs without skin issues.

The New Power Eating

Nutrition is a key piece in the fitness puzzle, and when you workout regularly, it’s likely that you’re pretty hungry. There’s a lot of information about what to eat and when to eat it, but that can be a lot to try and get through yourself. Dr. Sue Kleiner, a PhD and registered dietician, has worked with professional athletes, teams and Olympians for years, helping them to eat and drink for peak performance. Bring her knowledge into your kitchen with The New Power Eating. If your workout routine calls for a rest day or a sprint day, you can eat to power through each session.

Smartwool Hike Medium Crew Sock

When you think of tough socks built to bolster your feet and keep blisters at bay, Smartwool’s merino wool construction should be top of mind. The added cushioning underfoot helps each step feel better than the last, and the mid-calf height works for both trail runners and hiking boots. Plus, the sweat-wicking properties of wool are unmatched: they’ll keep your feet dry and warm no matter the temperature inside your boot.

Zwift Membership

Indoor trainers are the cure for winter blues, but the experience lacks the views of the journey and the camaraderie of the group. Zwift is an app that recreates these aspects of the ride through a video game-like platform that includes virtual roads and races and a multiplayer interface that’ll turn your fitness regimen into a competitive battle against your other cabin-fevered friends.

Clif Shot Bloks

While everyone’s stomach prefers different types of bars and gels during a run, these Clif Shot Bloks were what worked for me during my last marathon. This sample pack allows you to test out the different flavors to see what you like best. You’ll get orange, mountain berry, black cherry, citrus, strawberry, margarita, cran-razz and tropical punch — each of which stores 33 calories per block, made from 95 percent organic ingredients. When the wall hits, you’ll reach for these.

Jason Markk Shoe Cleaner Foam

This cleaner will get rid of unwanted marks that may have inadvertently graced whatever grail your sneakerhead friend accidentally wore out to the bar last weekend.

Stance Athletic Icon 2 Sock

With more cushioning underfoot, you’ll be feeling great after 10, 20 or 30-plus miles. These crew-height socks, made from a blend of nylon, polyester, elastic and cotton, are comfortable and breathe well. No matter if you’re out during the spring, summer, fall or winter, these work.

Jerky Snob Crate Joy

Sustenance on the go is a must on any commute, but shoving the same snacks in your face day in, day out can wear thin just as quickly as a commute. Jerky Snob is a jerky of the month club subscription which delivers tasty, high-quality jerky to your door each month. Perfect for keeping the pre- and post-work hangry fits at bay.

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

When you think of trail runners, Scott Jurek is one of the best and most well known. With over two decades of running on his resume, he’s a powerhouse. In 2015, Jurek ran the Appalachian trail (all 2,189-miles of it) in 46-days. This story tells the tale of just how hard it was and how he made it through.

Watch Repair Kit


While we don’t necessarily condone performing the equivalent of open-heart surgury on your vintage Rolex (rather, we say leave it to a watchmaker), sometimes you just need to open a case back or size a bracelet. If this is the case, we do recommend picking up one of these handy watch repair kits — probably the best $17 you can spend in watches.

Honest Kitchen Beams Treats

When buying dog treats, or just processed foods in general, less is more. The Honest Kitchen’s Beams treat has one item on the ingredients list: dried salmon skin, which are naturally packed with Omega-3s, high in protein and good for dogs of any age.

Topo Designs Small Accessory Bag

Topo Designs’ pouch comes in a style that’s suitably retro-outdoor, and it has enough space for the things needed around town and in the woods; stuff like cash, a credit card, a small notebook and a tiny roll of duct tape (you never know).

Beeswrap Assorted 3-Pack

Beeswrap makes environmentally friendly food wraps that will keep your food fresh without contributing more plastic to overstuffed landfills. They’re perfect for on-trail lunches.

Outerknown Sections Camp Socks

Break from typical black and gray socks in a colorway way that’s a perfect fit for a wide variety of outfits. Added bonus: These are made from a blend of 70 percent upcycled cotton, so they do as much good as they feel.

Record Props V2

This is another neat way to show off the records that you love. It’s a mount that hangs both the record and its sleeve on the wall. The record isn’t bound by a frame or glass display, allowing you to take it off the wall and play on your turntable whenever you want.

Drive Coffee

If you commute by car, first you have to love your car — you spend hundreds of hours in it each year just getting to and from work. Second, coffee is a must to stay awake, alert, sane. Drive Coffee combines the love of cars and coffee with themed single-origin and blended roasts like Imola, Targa and Le Mans. If you don’t know what to get the car-coffee-loving commuter in your life, look no further.

Rapha Beginner’s Guide to Road Cycling

Road cycling can be intimidating, and not just because of the elite racing, the complicated equipment and the skin-tight clothing. Rapha’s “Getting Started In Road Cycling” addresses questions about bike culture in addition to providing useful information about gear and tips on how to ride correctly.

Hydrapak Ultraflask Soft Flask

Lightweight and easy to carry flasks are the best way to hydrate on the run. This soft flask is packable and compresses down as you drink it, so it’s not adding bulk to your pack. Hydrapak also offers a lifetime warranty on this water bottle.

Metolius Portable Power Grips

If you like to rock climb, your cross-training likely includes some pull-ups. You’ll need both powerful legs and arms to get yourself up anything from a 5.2 to 5.12 and higher. These custom-carved wooden power grips will challenge you to keep going up. The two holds can hang anywhere you want to do a little-added training.

Nuun Vitamins

Stay healthy and never miss a day at the gym with Nuun vitamins. You’ll find these all over Gear Patrol staffer’s desks in a variety of flavors. Try the ginger lemonade, blackberry citrus, blueberry pomegranate or tangerine lime and fill your body up with Vitamins A, C, D, E, and B6, plus folic acid, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Each tab dissolves in water, so you’re also upping your hydration levels.

Leather Honey

When it comes to the car lover’s leather interior, you can bet they want it staying as supple and soft as possible throughout their ownership. Conditioning all sorts of leather since 1968, Leather Honey is one of the best conditioners available, especially since it rings in under $20.

Kinco 901 Pigskin Ski Gloves

Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, chopping wood or hiking, these waterproof leather gloves are sure to become your new staple. The durable pigskin leather will outlast your typical cowhide and fabric gloves and will keep the feeling in your fingers all day long thanks to a thermal lining.

Velomacchi Tool Pouch

Whether you’re on a bike or in your car, a full tool box isn’t exactly the most practical way to carry your essential tools. The Velomacchi Tool Pouch lets you keep your most used and critical sockets, ratchets or extra bolts and washers in a compact pouch under your seat, in the trunk or even in the glove box.

Yeti Rambler 10oz Lowball

Yeti’s version of the lowball is unbreakable, which truly makes it a go-anywhere vessel that’s ready for whiskey by the campfire or coffee at the office.

Soto Pocket Torch

This pocket torch weighs just 2.4-ounces so it won’t add much to your pack and total weight of the trip, but it will give you the power to light camp stoves quickly, fires and more. While a lighter is functional, this pencil torch is an easy stocking stuffer that every guy is sure to find integral to his new outdoor EDC.

UA x Stance SLK Crew

Stance makes some of the most fun performance socks out there. Under Armour makes some of the best performance tech gear that you’ve likely been wearing since middle school. The two joined forces to create a sleek sock with plenty of Fusion fibers, mesh panels and targeted compression to help you power through all your upcoming workouts.

Barton Bands Elite Silicone Watch Band


While certain professional rubber straps meant for scuba diving can be quite expensive, this Elite Silicone Watch Band from Barton Bands is affordable, comes in a variety of colors and features quick-release spring bars. What’s more, each strap ships with both a short and long lower half, meaning you should be able to find one for any-sized wrist.

Bow Wow Travel Food Bowl

There are only a few things you really need from a travel bowl — durability, affordability, water resistance and a lightweight build. This one from Fish Pond USA is just that. It’s made with a waterproof nylon interior, a jacquard mesh exterior, a heavy-set base to stay upright and priced at only $20.

Heritage Lensatic Compass

One look at the Heritage Lensatic Compass and you might think, although it looks incredibly classy and well made, it’s a bit archaic. Consider being out on the trail with no service or, worse yet, with a dead smartphone battery. Suddenly that handsome, archaic piece of brass is your best chance of getting home.

Wetsox

Wetsox are designed in the USA to make your life easier when trying to wiggle into a wetsuit. Slip on these calf-height socks then “slide” into your gear. The Wetsox diminish the amount of friction between your legs and the suit so it’s not as sticky getting it up over your waist. Just as it helps to get the suit on, it works just as well to quickly get the wetsuit off your body.

Haeckel’s Seaweed and Geranium Hand Balm

Protect or restore dried-out hands with this ocean-inspired lotion. We recommend pairing it with a listen of “Sloop John B” or a nice reading of Moby Dick.

The Original Goughnut

This circular chew toy has no weak points. It also floats in water and bounces on the ground. But the best part is that if your dog somehow manages to chew through the durable outside layer, Goughnuts will replace it. It’s about as safe as chew toys get.

Bikevibe

The bicycle is a universal machine; it transcends borders and culture. But as with anything, the way in which different groups of people interact with particular items varies from place to place, and Bikevibe has made it its mission to document how people in cities as diverse as Portland, Oregon and Milan, Italy approach life on two wheels.

Picturing America’s National Parks

For the days when the mountains feel too far away, the camper in your life will find inspiration in a book full of inspirational photos of America’s National Parks.

Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be an essential part of your everyday skin routine, especially if you’re outside. Beyond Coastal’s SPF 34 sunscreen protects your skin for up to 80 minutes during activity. Whether you’re hopping in the ocean for a late-season surf or heading out on a trail run, this non-greasy lotion quickly dries so you can smear and go.

Run Gum

While a runner’s high is a real thing, getting yourself to that point often takes a bit of effort. To give yourself an added boost of energy, Run Gum is the way to go. It has taurine and caffeine as well as B6 and B12. Chew for a few minutes to feel the effects before heading out to keep them high all day long. Nick Symmonds, a former pro-middle-distance track athlete, developed it to help up his energy levels without drinking a ton of energy drinks.

Darn Tough ATC Socks

Proper hiking socks are as essential as boots, but they can also be expensive. Thankfully, Darn Tough backs up its peds with a lifetime guarantee, so no matter how many miles are put on them you know that they’ll be good for just as many more.

iClever Himbox Bluetooth Car Adapter Kit

Vintage and analog cars have a worthy place in the modern world, but when it comes to commuting a few modern creature comforts can go a long way. The iClever Himbox Bluetooth Car Adapter Kit simply plugs into the car’s 12V outlet and immediately gives you Bluetooth functionality. Stream music, take calls and use Siri just like you would at home or, you know, in a brand new car.

Path Projects Muir Cap

A trucker hat is the ultimate sign of a true trail runner, but if that’s not quite your style, this charcoal hat will help you still blend in. Laser cut holes mean loads of breathability. It’s quick drying and SPF 50, so no matter where you choose to run your next ultra, you’re covered.

Portland Design Works Tiny Object CO2 Inflator

When a flat disrupts your ride, the solution shouldn’t be cranking away at a tiny frame-mounted pump. Portland Design Works created the Tiny Object CO2 inflator as a fast and efficient alternative. It works on all Presta valves and includes a leather sleeve so that your fingers don’t get frosty while inflating. All of these things will fit neatly in a saddlebag, too.

Rogue SR-1 Speed Rope

Sign up for a jump rope class at Equinox or other boutique gyms and you’ll quickly be reminded just how exhausting jump roping is. It challenges your cardiovascular system as well as increases endurance. Other gyms, like CrossFit, use jump ropes before and during class to keep your blood flowing between high pressure weight exercises. The Rogue SR-1 is an adjustable speed cable in eight colors that doesn’t weigh much, but packs a serious fitness punch.

Le Labo Hinoki Shower Gel

A refreshing, natural, and vegan (!) shower gel that evokes the smell of Hinoki trees, which grow in what is called one of the most holy places in all of Japan.

Leatherman Surf Pocket Multitool

The everyday surfer needs a streamlined EDC tool, and this stainless steel surf tool fits the bill. It’s TSA friendly, so go wherever the waves take you. It’s also adapted for a lanyard, meaning it’ll be less likely to go missing after a day in the water.

Good Candle x Gear Patrol Campfire Candle

For the days when it’s just not possible to get outside, strike a match and let the scent of a campfire fill your home. Each candle is hand-poured into a brown glass container that’ll burn for up to 25 hours. Close your eyes, breathe deep and imagine you’re sitting in front of a campfire — there’s no better way to relax.

Claus Porto Soap on a Rope

With notes of patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, ylang-ylang and vetiver, this soap smells great; the rope makes it so you’ll never lose track of it in the shower.

QALO Mountain Silicone Tags

The solution to dogs with jingly collars is here, and it looks better than any jingly collar ever did. QALO’s 100 percent silicone tags come in more than ten designs and can be engraved with dog names, parents’ names, phone numbers, addresses and more.

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series

Accidents happen. It’s best to be prepared, and wilderness wanderers don’t need an entire backpack’s worth of supplies to do so. Adventure Medical Kits makes carefully-considered medkits for all types of outings — from a day hike to a 28-day expedition.

Amazon Smart Plug

As long as they have some Alexa-enabled speaker in their home, this little plug (which Amazon just announced this fall) will turn any home appliance or light fixture that plugs into an outlet into something that can controlled with their voice. Get them a few.

Zipcar Account

Not all commutes were created equal. If you live in the city or just outside of one, chances are public transportation plays a big part in your life and negates the need for a car altogether, but every so often it’s incredibly convenient to own your own wheels. Skip the headaches of full-time ownership and use Zipcar, an on-demand car sharing program that lets you have your own car when you need it.

Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch

This smart switch is basically a remote control for your lights. It works with existing Philips Hue smart lights and lets you adjust the brightness of a specific light or a scene of multiple lights with the press of a button. You can also turn them on and off as well. It’s a simple gadget but lets you control all your smart lights without having to talk to your smart assistant.

BioLite SunLight

BioLite’s SunLight charges in seven hours while outdoors, or just two via a micro USB, and then you can enjoy up to 50 hours of light inside your tent, next to the fire or anywhere else you could use a bit of light. The hanging clip is ideal for use in a tent, and the built-in kickstand works great on picnic tables or the ground.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Here are 9 New American Watches Worth Buying Right Now

The worldwide watch industry is changing. Despite a continued wave of buyers in the Asian market, Swiss luxury watch sales slumped for 26 straight months in 2016 and 2017. A wobbly supply of ubiquitous ETA movements, controlled by the monolithic Swatch group, has put mechanical watchmakers on edge and whipsawed the market. Add in a rise in smartwatch popularity (which, despite what the industry claims, does in fact cut into the market share) and mechanical and quartz watch brands alike face a hell of a lot of change.

The United States, long a predictable and quiet market of watch lovers and buyers, is changing too. That’s thanks in part to America’s own kind of volatility: a crucible of American watchmakers and small brands, rising and falling, growing and changing, duking it out for a whole new market of Americans who want to wear a watch made by an American company. The American Watch Renaissance is real. It’s also complicated.

“It’s total chaos,” said Nick Harris, a former Seiko modder who went to Seattle’s Watch Technology Institute and started his own brand, Orion, when I asked him what it’s like to be a small American watchmaker today. “It’s a madhouse.”

American watchmaking has laid dormant since the 1940s, when prominent US watchmakers, already on the decline, were forced to turn their factories to wartime production. Switzerland, neutral during WWII, capitalized, and American watch brands never recovered. American buyers got perfectly comfy with their Rolexes and their Seikos. Then, in 2011, Shinola woke some of those buyers up with watches that used Swiss quartz movements but were put together in its Detroit factory. A small army of brands has followed suit.

It’s not always been rose gold and sunburst dials. Shinola got shellacked by the FTC in 2015 over “American-made” labeling; there’ve been fights over “in-house” claims by up-and-coming brands, and big names like Niall have winked out of business in an instant.

The biggest trends, though, have been great for consumers. Quality mechanical watchmakers of the old school like RGM have quietly stayed the course, keeping traditional, luxury-level watchmaking alive Stateside and inspiring young tinkerers. Larger, mainstream brands, Shinola included, are dipping their toes in mechanical watches for the first time. Smaller first-wave brands like Weiss are continuing to grow and break into the public consciousness. The affordable market has shattered into a sea of microbrands run by up-and-comers like Harris, some of them successful, and each with its own dynamic vision and accessible models.

The result for buyers at the tail end of 2018 is more great watches at every price range, from $100 to $10,000. Heading into 2019, these are a few great American brands and watches to keep an eye on.


Brew Retrograph

Jonathan Ferrer cut his teeth on watch design at Movado, during an internship his junior year at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 2015 he founded his own microbrand, Brew Watches, inspired by industrial espresso machines, and raised $40,000 on Kickstarter. In 2017 he shipped about 200 watches, made from Japanese and Chinese parts assembled in Switzerland. It’s 2018 that’s been his coming out party, though: Brew’s new Retrograph line, a rectangular watch with a classic bent and a Seiko meca-quartz movement that Ferrer assembles himself in Brooklyn, came out in December. Ferrer was inspired by “telephone timer” chronographs that first emerged in the 1930s and had hash marks every three minutes to let the wearer know it was time to insert more quarters for their call; the Retrograph has extra hash marks through 35 seconds, the ideal time to pull an espresso shot. “There are diver watches that have bezels that tell you how much oxygen you have in your tank, or racer chronographs that have lap timers built in,” Ferrer says. “I find it to be a playful way to connect a specific purpose of timekeeping to an experience that people enjoy.”

Movement: Seiko VK64 hybrid meca-quartz
CaseDiameter: 38mm
Price: $350

Mercer Concorde

Mercer, based out of Princeton, New Jersey, has produced eight watches so far — each bringing sharp design to the table, with pricing that usually falls south of $500. The Concorde dive watch is their design standout so far (though chronograph fans could argue for the Lexington). You won’t find many cushion cases in the American market, and this one’s well done; ditto its inner rotating bezel and patterned dial. At 43mm, it’s also the brand’s largest watch; Scott Vacuolo, Mercer’s president, says that extra size has been on Mercer customers’ wishlist.

Movement: Miyota 9039 automatic
CaseDiameter: 43mm
Price: $549

Martenero Edgemere Reserve

Martenero made a name for itself as a maker of semi-customizable, dressy watches — buyers of their early models could swap a black seconds hand for an orange one, and decide whether this should be set against a navy or white dial. They’ve moved away from that model with the Edgemere Reserve, but the brand’s modern style lives on. Instead of customizing, buyers can choose between four different colorways of the watch, all of them with the same nautical-inspired design. The defining touch is the power reserve indicator, a colorful swoop whose hues provide just the right pop to the dial.

Movement: Miyota 8245
CaseDiameter: 40mm
Price: $550+

Weiss 38mm Standard Issue Field Watch

Weiss is one of the OGs of modern American mechanical watchmaking, having started making watches in Los Angeles in 2013. They’ve made more gains than most to build parts in the US, and their design — simple and classic — has met with wide appeal. For those with smaller wrists, though, their Standard Issue Field watch’s 42mm diameter can yawn a bit too widely. The 38mm variant fixes that — its smaller dial has a sharp, condensed look, and its movement, though made with Swiss parts, is assembled and finished in California. The watch is “reminiscent of the past,” says Cameron Weiss, founder and watchmaker, “with a timeless design that will remain relevant for many years to come.”

Movement: Weiss Cal 1005, ETA 7001 base, finished and assembled in the US
Diameter: 38mm
Price: $950

Shinola Monster Mechanical Line

When it was founded in 2012, Shinola was a game-changer for American watches, touting its local Detroit staff as part of the city’s Renaissance, and the watches they assembled with Swiss quartz movements as a return to an American-made ethos. Since then, some would say the American watch movement had left them behind, moving on to younger, smaller brands, and moving toward the mechanical. Shinola showed signs of catching up in 2017 with its limited-edition Lake Erie Monster dive watch, which had a Ronda AG mechanical movement. Now a mechanical watch is a permanent part of the company’s lineup —- with a Sellita automatic movement this time — available with a black, orange, or blue dial.

Movement: Sellita SW200-1 automatic
CaseDiameter: 43mm
Price: $1,450

Oak & Oscar The Humboldt

Oak & Oscar’s founder Chase Fancher ditched a real estate job in 2015 to start his Chicago-based brand — Fancher has said he wants his watches to be talked about forty years from now. His new watch, and the brand’s first permanent installment (the others being limited editions), should be part of that discussion. The Humboldt was inspired by adventurer Alexander von Humboldt and takes the brand in a decidedly field watch-direction: with its 200m water resistance rating, thick sapphire crystal, sandwich dial with plenty of lume and dependable ETA movement, it’s what Fancher calls the “perfect everyday, go anywhere-kind of watch.” Expected delivery will be in late spring of 2019.

Movement: ETA 2892A2 automatic
CaseDiameter: 40mm
Price: $1,450+

Lüm-Tech Super Combat B4 GMT

Lüm-tech assembles its military-inspired watches in Ohio, and has been doing so for 10 years, flying under the radar while producing dependable mechanical timepieces with an Americana touch. The Super Combat B4 GMT is an upgraded version of their best-seller, the coin-edged bezel Combat B, made with titanium, a double-domed sapphire, a Swiss ETA movement, layered dial, and anti-shock housing. “If the standard combat B range is our VW, the Super Combat is our Audi,” says Chris Wiegand, CEO. “It represents the best in our lineup.”

Movement: ETA 2893-2
CaseDiameter: 45mm
Price: $1,695

Vortic Railroad Watch Edition

“We hope to remind everyone that the United States used to be the world superpower of watchmaking,” says R.T. Custer, cofounder of Vortic Watch Company. They’ve found a unique way to prod that memory. Each of the brand’s watches is centered around an antique pocket watch movement, dial, and hands, refurbished and placed inside a custom-made case. The Railroad Edition uses only refurbished “railroad grade” watches made by American companies like Elgin, Waltham, and Illinois. The watches are huge, of course—each around 51mm— and though they are all different, each has an absolute eye full of American heritage watchmaking waiting behind its display caseback.

Movement: Custom, refurbished American-made
Diameter: 51mm
Price: $2,000+

Movement: Custom, refurbished American-made
CaseDiameter: 51mm
Price: $2,000+

Autodromo Ford GT Owners Watch

Auto-designed watches are not new. Yet designer Bradley Price has breathed new American blood into the trope, blending a consistent design language spoken by both car and watch people with quality finishing and reasonable prices thanks to Hong Kong manufacturing. That formula has been a winning one for buyers, and it scored Autodromo a deal with Ford to build the GT Owners Watch—only available to purchasers of Ford’s half-million-dollar sports car. That watch is a beauty: made of matte ceramic and stainless steel, with a honeycombed dial and sapphire crystal hour and minute hands. Nearly every aspect is customizable, so that GT owners can make their watch match their vehicle. Fortunately for Fusion owners, Autodromo also made a Ford GT Endurance Chronograph collection, with a sticker price of $695 but a similar feel.

Movement: La Joux-Perret 7773 flyback chronograph
CaseDiameter: 43mm
Price: $11,500

A Bunch of Red Wing Engineer Boots Are Half Off Right Now

Minnesota-based bootmaker Red Wing has been making hardwearing footwear since 1905. The range of styles it produces are distinctly American: Moc-toe work boots with non-marking outsoles for factory workers, hefty oxfords designed for the postal service, pull-on roper boots appropriate for the ranch. It also makes a range of engineer boots which are now primarily sold in the Japanese and European markets.

Originally, engineer boots were designed to protect the feet of men who fed coals into steam engines. The silhouette melded the tall pull-on style of riding boots with the supportive arch and sole of a work boot. A buckled ankle strap makes the style instantly recognizable. After WWII, engineer boots became a favorite of motorcycle riders across America and the style saw an increase in popularity in the ’50s and ’60s.

While engineer boots aren’t as prominent today as they once were, they’re no less rugged or functional. If you want to pick up a pair for yourself, head over to Nordstrom Rack, where a bunch of Red Wing engineer boots are half off right now. That means for as little as $160, you can add this well-worn style to your own wardrobe.

Engineer Boot (Roughout) by Red Wing $450 $230

Engineer Boot (Copper Rough and Tough) by Red Wing $450 $230

Engineer Boot (Black) by Red Wing $320 $170

Engineer Boot (Amber Harness) by Red Wing $320 $160

Engineer Boot (Carcoal Rough and Tough) by Red Wing $450 $230
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Snow Removal Tools Every Car Owner Needs

A general lack of traction and the ravishes of snow and salt on your car’s undercarriage can make driving in winter unpleasant. But walking out to your car first thing in the morning only to find it buried under a layer of snow and ice is one of winter driving’s most underrated annoyances. Though you already know all the tricks for getting your car out of a snow-and-ice-caked hell, the job itself takes serious elbow grease (read: digging, chipping and scraping) to get free. To make life easier when it comes to that harrowing winter-morning task, keep a set of tools handy in your car. You don’t need everything on this list, but having just a few will make breaking free from the tyranny of snow and ice just that little bit more bearable.

Halite RS25 Premium Ice Melting Rock Salt

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Rock salt is the most widely used go-to for getting unstuck. It will melt ice and snow relatively quickly, while its gritty texture provides momentary traction.

MAXTRAX MKII

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The MAXTRAX is a common tool used among overlanders because its the most reliable way to provide temporary traction in case you get stuck. The principle works just as well in snow as it does in mud, dirt and sand and in a pinch the MAXTRAX can also be used as a shovel. If rock salt isn’t cutting it, this will do nicely.

AAA 4004 Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

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A sturdy, full-length aluminum shovel for easily digging your way out of trouble that only weighs 1.3 pounds and can be disassembled to fit in small trunk spaces.

Carhartt Cold Snap Gloves

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Made with Carhartt’s breathable and waterproof “Storm Defender” textile these insulated gloves will keep your fingers from feeling like they’re falling off, while letting sweat escape through a breathable membrane so you won’t feel too uncomfortable during rigorous digging. Still not warm enough? Pack a few hand warmers, just in case.

Hopkins 80037 Subzero 60-Inch Snowbroom

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Forego the small, handheld ice-scraper (especially if you have a SUV or truck) so you aren’t stuck reaching to get every last bit of ice off your windshield. The Hopkins comes with a brush for getting extra bits of snow and ice off, and can be collapsed to 38 inches for storage.

ARB ARB505 E-Z Deflator

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If you aren’t packing something like MAXTRAX, and rock salt just isn’t cutting it, a last-resort option for getting traction is to let some air out of your tires to increase your contact patch.

VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor

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Because after you deflate your tires, it’s a really bad idea to drive without re-inflating them, this 12V air compressor can use power from your car’s cigarette lighter and will refill most tires in less than two minutes.

The Winter Survival Skill Every Outdoorsman Should Know

It is the stuff of nightmares for outdoor adventurers. A quick, one-day ski tour turns up a storm and there is no chance of getting out before nightfall. In this type of winter emergency, the best course of action is to build a snow shelter. There are different ways to approach building one, so to hear the best techniques and designs, we spoke with Marco Johnson, the Field Staffing Director for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and JJ Jameson, a senior instructor for the REI Outdoor School. Spending the night freezing (literally) is no one’s idea of a good time, so enter the backcountry prepared and well informed on how to best save your own life.

Snow Cave

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Photo: Alastair Mcdowell

The snow cave is one of the quickest emergency shelters that you can build in the backcountry to escape impending bad weather. It requires the fewest tools and can be built with minimal exertion. According to Johnson, a snow cave is “the best shelter you can build, in the least amount of time.”

Scout a location. With any snow shelter, scouting a location is crucial. For a snow cave, your location will be determined by where snow depth and snow consistency is best. “You want to find a fairly big drift of snow — a place where the wind has piled up the snow,” says Johnson. Ideal snow conditions for building a snow cave are the same those for building a snowman. Snow that compresses and packs easily will yield a stronger structure and will be easier to build.

Hollow out a sleeping area. The next step is to dig. When you are hollowing out the snow bank, shape the inside of the structure like an upright bell. Johnson says that’s important because “the bell shape is very strong structurally and it prevents the roof from sagging due to your body heat.”

Dig up. When you are hollowing out the inside and building the bell shape, you want to start as low as you can and work up. This will allow you to make a sleeping platform inside the structure that sits higher in elevation than your entrance. Johnson stresses that this is key to keeping warm. “It creates a heat trap. So all the cold air moves out and all the warm air stays in. It is very much like the way that beavers build their lodges.”

Tree Pit

Photo: Off Grid Web

Photo: Off Grid Web

Depending on your location, you may be able to use trees to your advantage. Though tree wells are often dangerous to skiers and snowboarders, they can also be used for survival.

Scout your location. Just like the snow cave, scouting your location is crucial. A number of factors determine whether or not building a tree well shelter is possible, including snow depth and tree type. In areas of deep snow, pockets of space are often created where there are evergreen trees with low-hanging boughs. “Inside these snow-covered boughs, you can dig in and actually make yourself a makeshift shelter,” says Johnson.

Burrow. It is important to be extremely careful when starting to burrow into a tree well. It can be very easy to become stuck if snow starts to cascade down and fill the hole. Work slowly and methodically. Dig down until you get to ground level. Then cover the bottom of the pit with evergreen boughs to help keep the shelter insulated.

Pack out the walls. Compact the walls around you. This will help stabilize the shelter and keep snow from falling down the walls. Once inside, cover the hole that you came through with evergreen boughs to keep heat in and snow out.

Quinzee

Photo: Boys' LIfe

Photo: Boys’ Life

The quinzee is the shelter that takes the most effort out of the three, but can also last the longest and is the most comfortable. It’s also the only one out of the three that can be built in completely flat terrain with light powdery snow.

Prepare yourself. Building a quinzee isn’t easy, and it is going to take a lot of work. The first thing to do is assess whether it is worth the effort, or if a snow cave or tree well better suits the situation. If a quinzee is the right fit, Jameson says, “take off your jacket and roll up your sleeves — this is going to be hard, heat-producing work.”

Mound up a large pile of snow. In flat terrain, you are going to need to create the mound of snow that you will eventually tunnel into. Jameson says the goal is “something the scale of a small car, like a VW Bug.” Aim for a pile that is 4 1/2 feet tall and roughly 6-10 feet wide. Once you have the snow piled up, it is best to let it set for an hour or two so that the snow can consolidate (if the weather permits this time).

Tunnel directly into the middle of the structure. Start by tunneling along the ground straight toward the middle of the mound. As you remove snow from the inside of the structure, throw it onto the outside of the shell. “When you are putting snow onto the outside of the structure, you are actually throwing the snow. You are shoveling, but to empty the snow out of the shovel, I just sort of fling the snow onto the outer surface.” And during this process, aim to keep the structure as circular as possible, distributing the snow evenly across the outer surface.

Carve upwards. “Slowly start to carve vertically upwards in arcs,” Jameson notes. “You want the inside of it to be a dome shape because that is very strong.” Scrape in an arcing pattern hollowing out the middle of the mound, again throwing the removed snow onto the outside. Scrape off snow upwards but also around in circles, taking off two to three inches of snow as you go around. Continue the process until you have a space that is large enough for you lay down and stretch out in.

Repair as needed. As you hollow out the middle of the structure, you may make small holes in the walls. Don’t worry about them. Simply pack more snow onto the outside to fill the hole(s). “One individual hole isn’t going to make the thing fall down,” Jameson advises. “You would have to have about a fifth of a wall removed for it to actually collapse.”

Buying Guide

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Having the right tools in a survival situation can mean the difference between life and death. For Johnson, traveling in the winter means ski touring. Because of this, he always has his snow shovel and snow saw. “Having a snow shovel and a snow saw is really important because you can’t move snow without a shovel,” he says.

On top of an avalanche shovel, Jameson’s must-carries skew more towards making quinzee-building easier. “It can be helpful to have a tarp and an emergency blanket,” he says. “Once you’re really digging a lot you can lay that tarp near the opening with a corner of it sticking out. Your buddies can then just pull that and drag big piles of snow out without having to shovel it out.”

Black Diamond Evac 7 Shovel $80
Backcountry Access Snow Saw $34
Terra Nova Competition Tarp 1 $79
Adventure Medical Heatsheets Survival Blanket $4

Flipside 4 Wallet

The Flipside 4 Wallet is your go-to-wallet if you want to carry several cards with you but want to be inconspicuous in doing so. This everyday carry doesn’t look like your typical wallet and appears more like a small tool kit.

Its unique appearance though speaks for its durability and reliability. This wallet not only protects your card from data swiping with its built-in RFID blocking system which uses aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. Its crush-resistant clamshell design also protects the contents from accidental spills, drops, or unexpected storms and prevents cracks and bents on the card.

This wallet is made from high-strength polycarbonate resin and aluminum to deliver scratch resistance yet it is lightweight at just 3 ounces. It also fits nicely in the pockets because of its rounded corners and smooth edges.

Moreover, this EDC features an ergonomic locking button that flips the wallet open with a push. It opens clamshell for instant access to the cards or cash inside. It has three separate card slots and can accommodate seven cards. Each slot features a strong grip on both sides to secure the cards even better. It also has a dedicated cash compartment with a built-in money clip for your bills.

The Flipside 4 Wallet comes in a variety of colors to fit your personal style. It is available in stealth black, mech grey, trooper green, flare orange, impulse blue, and punk pink.

Get Yours Here

Photos Courtesy of Flipside

For Mountain Hardwear’s Most Advanced Collection Yet, It Looked to Its Past

As we took the next few steps upwards, our breath visible under the light of our headlamps, we caught our first glimpse of the summit. Still some 1,600 feet below the crest of Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico, we needed to pace ourselves. Stopping briefly for water, we stared up as first light reached the Jamapa Glacier, an icy 35-degree slope laden with crevasses. A good reminder of how small we are.

Hours earlier, we started the summit push from our high camp just after 2 AM and had just passed the crux of the climb, a slick section called the Labyrinth. We had endured freezing rain and high winds for nearly five hours and 3,000 feet of slowly marching upward. Orizaba, at 18,491 feet, is the third highest mountain in North America, and a challenge for even the hardy. The six of us had gathered two days earlier at the rental car office at the airport, beaming with excitement. A group of friends from all over the US, we came together to tick a bucket list climb and test some of Mountain Hardwear’s newest products.

Mountain Hardwear introduced an entirely new line of sustainable technologies in December, by far its most environmentally responsible collection in the company’s 25-year history. Before the trip, I had a chance to sit down with the design team to learn more about the sourcing and history behind the new Exposure/2 collection. Mountain Hardwear was inspired by a belief that sustainability is opportunity, not just an obligation. From product designers all the way up to the company’s president, the team bought into the idea and invested in research, design and testing of new recycled materials, solution dyes and sustainable waterproofing.

Mountain Hardwear’s commitment to sustainable technologies runs the gamut, from apparel, to packs and tents. Every one of its major upcoming products launches has sustainability baked in, including the Exposure/2 collection — which includes a flashy pair of bibs and a jacket. This combo was made possible through a rekindled partnership with materials developer Gore-Tex.

The collection is made with a three-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric that’s waterproof, windproof and breathable. Both the jacket and bibs have an improved ability to stretch, striking a balance between comfort and consistent weather protection, perfect for extended activities like summiting Orizaba with extreme weather. The jackets were designed for the demands of backcountry skiers, mountaineers, alpinists, guides and serious outdoor enthusiasts.

Despite being undeniably burly and durable, the most impressive parts of the Exposure/2 Pro shell and bib are hard to spot with the human eye. In one colorway that references the brand’s 1993 color palette, the jacket and bib feature solution-dyed fibers instead of the traditional dying process, in which individual strands of yarn are dyed using a large volume of water and chemicals. Solution dyeing involves mixing pigment directly into the plastic pellets before it is extruded into yarns. The output is a deep, permanently colored fiber that can be woven into fabrics without wasted water or dyes.

The solution-dye process that Mountain Hardwear chose to utilize requires 89% less water, 63% fewer chemicals and generates 60% fewer CO2 emissions than traditional dyeing while creating colors that last longer. After Mountain Hardwear ran the numbers, the process was an obvious choice. The Exposure/2 collection features some colorways that are not solution dyed and instead are made using 100% recycled nylon, further reducing the environmental footprint of the collection.

“The incorporation of recycled and solution dyed textiles has the potential to significantly lower the environmental impact of making Gore-Tex garments,” said Bernhard Kiehl, Gore Fabrics Sustainability Leader. “Our Life Cycle Analysis indicated that a long and useful life is the single most important factor in measuring sustainability. Solution dyeing partially addresses this finding, as the process produces improved durability and lasting color.”

Mountain Hardwear’s push for sustainability goes further with the REI-exclusive Exposure/2 Paclite Pullover styles where the brand introduces a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment free of perfluorinated compounds. This technology, known as C0 DWR, eliminates the persistent toxin associated with the carbon chemistry of C8 or C6 DWR, which have long been industry standards. “As a garment’s first line of defense against precipitation, DWR treatments are essential to the performance of high-quality outerwear,” said Steve Adams, Mountain Hardwear’s Senior Outerwear Product Line Manager. “However, until recently, those benefits came with a significant environmental cost: the use of perfluorinated compounds, inorganic substances that accumulate in the environment. By eliminating PFCs, we’re delivering performance without the environmental impact.”

On the five day trip to Mexico, we had the opportunity to test prototypes of products coming down the pipeline in spring 2019, including new Trango tents, Alpine Light and Scrambler packs and Phantom sleeping bags. Curious how these new, environmentally responsible materials would hold up, we asked Peter Valles, VP of Design and Brand. “These are some of the newest materials available to the market. We simply chose to work with the most sustainable options available to us, from Bluesign-approved, recycled and solution-dyed fabrics to tent materials made without toxic flame retardants.”

As part of Mountain Hardwear’s redesign of its entire equipment line, the brand has taken a stand against the use of fire-retardant chemicals in tents, choosing not to apply toxic compounds to all of its shelters, including base camp, expedition and backpacking tents. “The tent standard that necessitates the use of fire retardant chemicals — which are often highly toxic — is based on a rule developed to protect against highly flammable, paraffin-coated cotton circus tents decades ago” explained Joe Vernachio, Mountain Hardwear’s president. “We’re challenging this outdated standard in the interest of sustainability and our consumer’s health. We are eliminating its use from all future Mountain Hardwear tents.”

The launch of Exposure/2 also celebrates the 25th anniversary of Mountain Hardwear and is a homage to the original Exposure jacket, which launched 25 years ago. While the collection embraces the heritage of Mountain Hardwear, it is mostly focused on the future. With this new line, the brand shows its focus on the emerging generation of climbers who appreciate performance and style, combined with responsible ethics in sourcing and manufacturing. “Our products will always be technically focused, with a fresh and youthful spirit,” said Steve Adams.

Driven by a philosophy of environmental optimism, the team designed the Exposure/2 collection with some of the most sustainable fabrics and dyes available. The new collection references the 1993 color palette with bold and fun colorways. For those looking for a high-performance and responsibly made shell for alpine environments, the Exposure/2 is your top choice.

In the end, whiteout conditions on the Jamapa Glacier and nausea for a couple members of the team turned us around. The summit of Orizaba, a monolith of rock and ice, will have to wait for another day. With cold hands and wet toes, we carefully descended the same path we had come. This moment will stick with me. I’ll use it as a reminder to respect the earth – it’s the only one we have.

Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Pro Jacket by Mountain Hardwear $650

Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Pro Bib by Mountain Hardwear $550

Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Active Jacket by Mountain Hardwear $425

Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Stretch Pullover by Mountain Hardwear $275
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All-Wheel-Drive vs Four-Wheel-Drive: Know the Difference


Four-wheel-drive used to be synonymous with mullets off-roading in the minds of most consumers. Like many buzz-worthy specs originally developed for enthusiasts and professionals, though, some variant of the general principle was soon rushed into vehicles of all stripes by manufacturers. It’s a shift muddin’ diehards still cuss about over tallboys at dusk, but there’s no denying that a new generation of sure-footed cars with better handling in tricky conditions has benefited drivers everywhere.

Today, finding the perfect match between driving ability, fuel consumption and price first requires a honest evaluation of your own motoring needs. With that soul-searching behind you, understanding the differences between various four-wheel-drive (4WD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) offerings (and everything in between) will make buying your next ride that much easier.

Know Your Terms

Loosely speaking (in automotive terms), torque is the twisting force produced by a car’s engine. Torque is multiplied and split up between wheels by various gears in the transmission and differentials, which send torque from the driveshaft or transmission to the drive wheels. Applying torque to the wheels is what moves your car from A to B; granted, there’s a force — a.k.a. friction — that prevents your tires from simply slipping along the road. That last bit is important because it illustrates the relationship between friction, traction and torque. Friction is required for traction, and traction is required to harness torque. The most powerful engine in the world won’t move you an inch if your tires lack traction. Wheel slip results when the torque applied to a tire exceeds its available traction (often, at red-light drag races).

Traction control is one innovation that has helped limit tire slip in modern vehicles — even the two-wheel-drive variety. This technology leverages the same sensors used by anti-lock braking systems to measure wheel speed and determine whether any wheel under power has lost traction. Remember, if the amount of torque sent to a wheel exceeds the friction it has with the road, it’ll slip. By braking select wheels when slipping is detected, these systems can limit the amount of torque sent to a wheel and reduce wheel slip in the process. In certain cases, reducing engine power to slipping wheels is also required to get things under control. Traction control systems are unquestionably beneficial, but it’s important to remember that they only work to prevent wheels from spinning and can’t actually increase traction. That’s where 4WD and AWD come in.

Open Differentials
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Before diving into the benefits of pushing power to all four wheels of a vehicle, it’s important to first understand how the two-wheel-drive systems found on most cars work and where they fall short. When a vehicle is in motion, its wheels rotate at different speeds when making turns. This is because the inside wheels travel a shorter distance during a turn than the outside wheels. The front wheels and back wheels likewise travel at different distances and speeds in turns. This simple fact of physics poses a problem for wheels under power from the engine, since the left and right wheels are linked together by an axle so that the car’s engine and transmission can turn both together. A differential is a type of gearbox found on the front and rear axles that deals with this issue by supplying power to a set of wheels while still allowing them to rotate at different speeds.

The differential found on basic two-wheel-drive vehicles is known as an “open differential,” and it distributes power across both wheels following “a path of least resistance”. This design is highly effective on typical surfaces like dry pavement, but it can result in real problems on poorer road conditions. For example, if one wheel on an axle hits a patch of ice while the other remains on dry pavement, an open differential will direct all available power down the path of least resistance, which in this scenario is the wheel with the least amount of traction. The additional torque applied to this wheel results in wheel slippage. Getting moving in these cases involves a sore back until both wheels on the axle gain traction again.

Part-Time 4WD

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Though the name might seem counterintuitive, Part-Time 4WD is a feature found primarily on SUVs and trucks designed to handle demanding off-road environments. Unlike Full-Time 4WD or some all-wheel-drive solutions, these systems allow drivers to normally operate the vehicle in 2WD during everyday driving scenarios (which is more fuel efficient and puts less wear and tear on the vehicle), or switch into either a 4WD high or a 4WD low gear for particularly bad traction scenarios via a selector switch. The presence of a 4WD low gear, combined with a more basic design and implementation, generally makes Part-Time 4WD a superior option to AWD alternatives when really veering off the beaten path — granted a driver knows what they’re doing.

4WD mode works in the simplest terms thanks to a dedicated transfer case, which splits the power between the front and rear axles. Specifically, it locks the front driveshaft to the rear driveshaft, forcing equal amounts of torque from the engine to both axles, causing the front and rear axle of a car to rotate at the same speed. This provides greater traction to drivers since it ensures power will continue to flow to the wheels on an axle with traction should wheels on the other axle slip. By the same token, though, switching back to 2WD on normal road conditions is critical to prevent potential damage from a condition known as “drivetrain binding” — when a vehicle’s axles cannot rotate at different speeds to accommodate the different distances wheels travel during events like turning.

There are several other innovations beyond simply sending power to all four wheels that enhance many Part-Time 4WD vehicles’ traction abilities by solving the woes of open differentials. A limited-slip differential or LSD (not that kind, you Deadhead) is one such solution that automatically directs some available power to the path of more resistance (a.k.a. the wheel that’s not slipping) to provide grip on poor roads, and it works in the background without any input from the driver. But it doesn’t prevent wheel slippage entirely.

So-called automatic limited-slip differentials (A-LSD), also known as electronic limited-slip differentials (e-LSDs), are activated by drivers via a button or switch and provide the same traction benefits as a typical LSD using a different methodology, with a few notable enhancements. Instead of relying on clutches to evenly distribute drive-wheel power, these systems rely on the automatic intervention of the braking system to transfer power between the wheels. But unlike basic traction control (mentioned earlier), A-LSDs also don’t require a reduction in engine power to work and can shift power back and forth from the left and right wheels as each wheel’s level of traction varies.

Locking differentials kick things up a notch further by allowing users to manually activate a locking mechanism inside the differential. A locked differential forces each wheel on an axle (vs. just the axle, as is the case in basic Part-Time 4WD) to rotate at the same speed, no matter their tractional differences, which gives a wheel that may have more traction a better chance of freeing the driver from a slippery situation.

PROS

  • Gives traction when needed, while switching to 2WD improves fuel economy and reduces wear on the drivetrain in normal conditions.
  • Since it’s generally less complicated and of an older design from an engineering standpoint compared to other systems, it’s easier to build and therefore less expensive, lowering initial purchase cost. Its simplicity also tends to make it more rugged.
  • In extremely difficult terrain, drivers can engage an extra-low 4WD gear for improved torque.
  • LSDs, A-LSDs and locking differentials act as the ultimate trump card in poor conditions by better directing engine power from “wheels that slip, to wheels that grip”.

CONS

  • Doesn’t provide extra traction and handling improvements in everyday driving situations.
  • A driver has to actively turn on 4WD to take advantage of it and remember to turn it off after.
  • Creates the potential for uneven tire wear.

Full-Time 4WD

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“Full-Time” means some portion of the engine’s power is spread across each of the wheels, all of the time. These systems are becoming increasingly popular in SUVs and unlike the Part-Time 4WD systems mentioned above, they eliminate the risk of drivetrain binding thanks to a center differential, which allows each of the vehicle’s axles to receive at least some amount of power at all times and still rotate at different speeds during a turn. While Full-Time 4WD systems are convenient (since all of the wheels are always under some degree of power without any action from the driver), they still have faults. Fuel economy naturally takes a hit, and there is inherent wear on the drivetrain. Just like a blustering high roller in Vegas buying drinks for any female in a 30-yard radius, Full-Time AWD continues to shower each of the wheels with some portion of power, even those with zero chance of gaining traction.

Some center differentials boast a locking feature to partially overcome this problem, which splits engine power equally between the front and rear axles (not the wheels, as with a locking differential on part-time 4WD vehicles mentioned above). A Full-Time 4WD car with a locked center differential thus behaves in many ways like a Part-Time 4WD vehicle in 4WD.

A Torsen limited-slip center differential does an even better job of putting power where it’s most needed in Full-Time 4WD vehicles. It features a unique gearset that locks if it senses a torque imbalance between a vehicle’s two axles and then transfers power to the axle with traction. The particular ratio of power that a Torsen can shift between the front and rear axles varies. In the case of Toyota’s vehicles, it can direct up to 53 percent of available engine power to the front axle if the rear starts spinning. If it’s the front wheels that are spinning, on the other hand, up to 71 percent of all engine power can shift to the rear axle to get you and backseat full of sugared-up kids out of a jam.

PROS

  • Gives drivers added traction and improved handling in all driving situations, without the risk of drivetrain binding.
  • It’s always on and doesn’t require any action from the driver.
  • Systems equipped with Torsen center diffs are the ultimate solution for putting engine power where it’s needed most, lowering the risk of getting stuck even further.

CONS

  • It’s less fuel efficient and puts more wear on a vehicle’s drivetrain.
  • Often requires advanced drivetrain equipment that can increase initial vehicle cost relative to more basic 4WD systems.
  • They’re generally more prone to damage compared to simpler, more rugged Part-Time 4WD systems.

Full-Time 4WD Multi-Mode

Full-Time 4WD Multi-Mode systems can operate in Full-Time 4WD mode, just like other Full-Time 4WD systems. Drivers have the added bonus, though, of switching to 2WD when additional traction isn’t necessary. This system is generally harder to find and is usually only used on higher-end SUVs.

PROS

  • Gives drivers added traction and improved handling in all driving situations if desired, but it can be turned off should fuel economy and drivetrain wear be a concern.

CONS

  • Often requires advanced drivetrain equipment that can increase cost relative to more basic 4WD systems.
  • They’re generally more prone to damage compared to simpler Part-Time 4WD systems and more expensive compared to regular Full-Time 4WD systems.
  • Available on only a limited number of typically lower-powered vehicles.

AWD

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The most basic definition of an all-wheel-drive vehicle is one that can send some percentage of engine power to the non-primarily powered wheels when needed. (Today, this is an oversimplification for most new cars driving off of the lot, but we’ll go with it for clarity’s sake.) AWD systems were originally made popular by European sports cars in the ’80s after drivers found their added road grip boosted handling. The most basic implementations are usually found on front-wheel-drive cars, though this is far from being always the case.

Today, AWD is available on all kinds of vehicles and offers many of the benefits provided by more traditional 4WD systems. But this isn’t a “Potato” “Po-tah-to” situation, and they aren’t the same thing. Mechanically, AWD systems incorporate a front differential, center differential and the transfer case into one compact component, which makes it more suitable in smaller, lightweight vehicles with lower levels of ground clearance. Despite the word “all,” cars with basic AWD still typically send the majority of power only to one axle. For example, in the case of the Porsche 911, only 5 percent is typically pushed to the front axle while 95 percent is directed to the rear. In these cases, a series of sensors monitor wheel slip and automatically shift power to wheels where there is no slippage, without any action need from the clueless driver screaming T-Swift at the top of their lungs.

The best AWD systems leverage software and wheel sensors to detect wheel slip as fast as possible. They then react by activating traction control to reduce or eliminate wheel slip while re-routing engine torque to the wheel with the best grip on the road. AWD with dynamic torque control found on cars like the Toyota RAV4 are a riff on this theme and utilize an electro-magnetic coupler or (ECU). During normal driving, the RAV4 defaults to front-wheel-drive for improved fuel economy while still sending power to rear wheels during turns for improved cornering and driving performance (up to a maximum of 45 percent rear and 55 percent front torque distribution.)

Lock mode, on the other hand, essentially acts like Full-Time FWD on the RAV4 at speeds below 25 MPH by directing 50 percent of engine power to the rear wheels. Sport Mode provides smoother torque transfers between the front and rear wheels to improve steering by maximizing the traction of each wheel. Braking in a straight line is also enhanced in this mode by stopping torque to the rear wheels, allowing ABS and vehicle stability control to work unmolested.

While it’s somewhat of a sweeping statement, AWD systems generally excel at “all-weather” driving, not “all-terrain” driving.

PROS

  • Gives drivers added traction and improved handling in all driving situations if desired.
  • It’s always on and doesn’t require any action from the driver.
  • Available on a wide range of vehicles beyond trucks and SUVs.

CONS

  • Lack of a transfer case means engine torque cannot be geared down to a very low range for rigorous off-roading.
  • Compared to other systems, it’s less adept at pinpointing power to the wheels that grip vs. the wheels that slip.

Real-World Performance

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Understanding the science and engineering behind each of these systems is informative, but no amount of book smarts can replace a test drive to discern what system is right for you. Our recent experience with Toyota’s entire cross-over and SUV lineup in Breckenridge made it abundantly clear that competent drivers armed with even basic AWD can comfortably navigate less-than-ideal road conditions — and we didn’t even follow a cardinal rule of using snow tires. AWD cars can manage the slushy terrain to the local Starbucks just as competently as the mighty Canyonero and save fuel in the process. In short, justifying the expense of Full-Time or Part-Time 4WD over more basic AWD options simply as a necessity for “surviving” your neighborhood makes much less sense than it used to.

There are obviously adventurous lifestyles and harsher environments where owning a more robust system is a reasonable investment, though. The 4WD solutions found on true SUVs (your Aztec doesn’t count) are all capable of pushing drivers well beyond the paved safety of Main Street. But while their advanced drivetrain systems and various enhancements like Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Crawl Control are taking more of the hassle out of going off-road, they should never override common driving sense. Driver experience and competence is still the biggest single factor in avoiding disaster. No option package or a decal on the bumper will ever change that fact.

Some point out that when it comes to buying a car, it’s hard to put a price on the single moment where a good traction system could save your bacon from a bad situation — and for the most part, we’d agree. You can’t put a price on safety, but shelling out isn’t a get-out-of-a-ditch-free card either. Your first concerns should center around driving ability, size, fuel efficiency and creature comforts. Only once the field is narrowed should you consider the various drivetrain options available and start the honest conversation of “Is it worthwhile?” No matter what you wind up picking, our advice is to study up on good winter driving skills, focus on regular maintenance, and work on improving your decision-making behind the wheel first. After all, at the end of the day, it’s the man behind the machine, not the other way around.

One of the Best Modern Applications of AWD

The blue and white roundel on the M2’s trunk might as well be a target. Read the Story

A Vintage Car You Should Know: The Saab 96

If you were to spectate a European rally event during the early 1960s, you’d have heard the distinct buzzing, brapping yelp of a certain two-stroke engine bouncing off the hills and trees and echoing through the valleys. The source of the ruckus: a round, teardrop-shaped coupe from a then-obscure little automaker called Saab. The car was called the 96, and the driver was Erik Carlesson, a “moon-faced, 250-lb Swede” (Autoweek’s words, not mine) with an exuberant driving style. The pairing was unorthodox but successful: Carlesson and the 96 won a number of notable rallies, including multiple first-place finishes at the Rally Monte Carlo and RAC Rally in Wales.

Technically speaking, the 96 was not Saab’s first car; it wasn’t even it’s second (that’d be the 93). But the 96 and its rally wins helped put the emerging automaker on the map. But its roots can be traced to the airplane builder’s foray into the automotive industry, the 92. The 92 was far from a smashing success when it initially debuted in 1950, but it did provide the Saab brand a unique and impressive platform on which to build. It featured a three-cylinder two-stroke engine, a front-wheel-drive (thus relatively spacious) layout and an aerodynamic body formed with the assistance of a wind tunnel, at that time a technology mostly reserved for airplane manufacturing.

Like the 93 before it, the 96 was an update on that original 92 platform, this time to the tune of updated mechanicals, a bigger engine and styling tweaks. Most notably, the early version of the 96 received a larger two-stroke engine which was eventually replaced by a four-stroke V4 in 1966. And while the 92 and 93 sold in the tens of thousands of short productions runs, the 96 saw much more success: it stuck around for 20 years after its debut in 1960, and Saab managed to move over half a million units.

Of those hundreds of thousands of 96s, the one pictured here, which I drove, is one of the very last examples ever made. In 1980, the 96’s last year of production, Saab ended on a high-note, introducing a special model called “Jubileum,” which consisted of 300 limited-run models that were specified identically, but all to perfection. The mechanicals were no different compared to the regular 96 — its 68-horsepower V4 engine and four-speed manual remained — but the car received a brilliant powder blue paint job, special alloy wheels, special trim and upgraded blue seats, basically taken from the Saab 99.

It’s about as obscure a car as you could possibly get, but for Saab enthusiasts, it’s a grail-tier car. Marc Vernon, who owns this model, has owned a total of 11 in his lifetime; given that the 96 was not imported to the U.S. after 1973, its presence here in Chicago is all the more remarkable. Vernon had been on the hunt for a late model 96 from Europe when he came across a Jubileum for sale on “a sort of Swedish Craigslist.” According to Vernon, the seller responded to an email inquiry two weeks later to say that specific car had sold but that, as luck would have it, he had another Jubileum for sale. After a ten-month buying, inspecting and importing process, the car arrived at Vernon’s door.

When Saab officially went defunct in 2012, its fanbase was devastated, though few were truly surprised. There was an endearing weirdness to Saab and its approach to carmaking — half brilliant, half flummoxing — that made it lovable but did little to sustain it as a viable business. But drive a 96 and you can see why enthusiasts remain loyal to the dead marque: quirks abound, like seatbelts that loop through a latch (rather than buckle) and c-pillar winglets that supposedly aid in aerodynamics.

Arguably the thoroughly weird 96’s strongest selling points are its engine and drivetrain. Even into the 60s, Saab was selling road car powered by two-stroke engines with only seven moving parts, but even in that context, the V4 is a bit of a quirky choice. The only other automakers to ever put a V4 into a car are Ford (only in Europe), Lancia, Matra and ZAZ, a Ukrainian carmaker that I swear absolutely exists.

What’s more bewildering is the way the V4 puts its power down: through a freewheel, which disconnects the engine from the driveshaft when your foot lifts from the throttle. The freewheel device is actually an essential piece of a two-stroke drivetrain, as it prevents the engine from oil starvation when the car’s fuel-oil mixture isn’t being sent to the engine. Where it definitely isn’t essential is on a four-stroke engine like this one, where engine lubrication isn’t dependant on throttle input.

Still, Saab decided to keep the freewheel from the two-stroke drivetrain intact for its four-stroke V4 model. There is, however, a benefit to this: you don’t need to use the clutch to change gears. There is a clutch pedal that must be used to get the car moving into first from a standstill, but from there you simply take your foot off the gas, then slide the column-mounted shifter into the next gear. Imagine that: Saab created one of the first (sort of) semi-automatic transmissions, seemingly by accident.

Of course, because this is Saab, there’s a more inconvenient downside, which is a lack of engine braking, since the transmission won’t slow the car down on its own. This means you’ll wear through your brakes more quickly and, on an operational level, you’ll need to anticipate stops a bit more than usual. But because this is a Saab, its all part of the charm.

There’s a rhythm to it all that must be navigated smoothly: roll onto the throttle; hear the boxer-like V4 reverberate throughout the cabin; lift off your foot and slide the shifter down into second; hit the gas, lift off; up and forward into third; then down for fourth; then start pressing into into the brakes to stop for that intersection looming a half-mile ahead. Good driving is deliberate driving, and the 96 rewards you for being deliberate.

It’s a fool’s errand to drive fast in a 96 because the car isn’t fast, at least not inherently. The Saab 96’s success in rally came not from brute power, but an ability to retain grip and composure on slippery surfaces like gravel and snow. Because I was driving on perfectly dry tarmac (and because I’m not even remotely close to possessing Carlesson-level skill) I didn’t really get a sense as to how it can handle in those conditions, but the car’s history of rally success is convincing enough to me.

Honestly, I’m not sure that you buy a car like this for some exceptional driving thrill (though don’t get me wrong, it is fun). Rather, the highlights of the 96 boil down to its blatant Saabness. That may seem like a cop-out conclusion, but the Saab 96 is the product of an automaker marching to the beat of its own drum, sparing no fucks along the way. That attitude may have very well killed Saab in the end, but it left us with a car — an entire lineup of cars, really — with irrefutable character and blatant disregard for the status quo.

Bawah Reserve In Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago

The Bawah Reserve is the only known resort on the remote Anambas Archipelago of Indonesia. Its 13 lush beaches offer a level of sanctuary that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.

Any entrepreneur would milk this reserve for profits, of course. However, Matt Chapman, the owner, seems like he doesn’t want to do that. In fact, he wants Bawah to be a space where people can feel the rush and surprise of exploration.

“We want every guest to feel like an explorer stepping foot on the island for the first time,” he says. The terrain, marked by tropical vegetation and clear, turquoise waters, served as an inspiration for the resort. The designers sought to make everything by hand. That includes the 11 overwater bungalows and beach and garden suites, using mostly using bamboo harvested from Java and driftwood.

Elsewhere, you’ll find Lychee wood counters, freestanding copper bathtubs and sinks, plus rattan accents all over — a nod to the islands’ sprightly and exotic ecology. You’ll also find splashes of green and blue throughout, supposed to highlight “the relationship between the property and the land in a way that draws upon whimsical interpretations of the sea,” according to Eco.id founding partner and director Sim Boon Yang.

With the whole property set on a marine preserve, visitors can partake in a variety of outdoor adventures, like kayaking, trekking, snorkeling, diving, island-hopping. After a day’s exhausting but fulfilling bout of roughhousing in the wilderness, you can just relax on one of the reserve’s pristine white-sand beaches. We don’t need to say more, though. We’re betting you’ve already booked a trip here.

SEE MORE HERE

Photos courtesy of Bawah Reserve

Things Hybrid Charger

Things Hybrid Charger offers you the convenience of quick wired and wireless charging in one nifty device that features a retractable cable underneath its frame so you can rid your desk of those cumbersome charging cables.

This device powers up your mobile devices in 35 minutes with its two charging coils and Quick Charge 3.0 system. The wireless dock has an ergonomic angle to provide you with convenient screen viewing while your device is charging.

The dock also emits a soft LED light that changes accordingly to the status of the charging: three smooth blinks signal the start of wireless charging, one smooth blink with the wired charging, and rapid blinks mean a foreign object is stuck between the charger and phone. The light stays at low brightness when the battery is full and does not emit any light while charging as not to disturb sleep.

The retractable cable, on the other hand, is on the right side concealed by a magnetic cover. The cable can extend up to 80 cm and proves useful in certain situations, like when your phone is still on the charging dock and a call comes in. Just pull out the cable and plug to your phone. It retracts right back in when not in use.

The cable can also charge other devices such as a power bank and speaker and is replaceable in case of damage or if you need another type of cable, like the Micro USB, type C, or lightning cable.

Unlike other chargers, Things Hybrid Charger can power up two devices simultaneously without affecting its energy output. You still get fast charging anytime.

Get Yours Here

Photos Courtesy of Things

Tourists Hotel

On a lush property in the small town of North Adams sits the Tourists Hotel, a quaint and intimate 48-room inn much like the roadside lodges you see in old films.

Except this little hotel is affixed with modern niceties that elevate its American motor lodge aesthetic from a simple nostalgia fest to a respectable blend of past and present — it offers us to look backward through the lens of modern-day sophistication.

If you happen to pass by Mohawk Trail, a road in western Massachusetts that opened in 1914 and is among America’s oldest scenic byways, you’ll find the Tourists Hotel cinched between a bucolic blanket of vegetation. The U-shaped space features low-slung bars surrounding a central courtyard with native flora. The white oak facades are a sight to behold. Plus, the structure itself is a fine example of the beauty in integrating architecture into the surrounding woods.

Each guest room has high ceilings, king-sized beds, and built-in lounge furniture for reading and napping. Families and larger groups are more than welcome as well, as several rooms offer lofted bunks. Each also has an advanced air-circulation system that replaces the air every hour. This apparently brings “the Berkshire outdoors into the space year-round.”

Outside, you’ll find a saltwater swimming pool and a deck overlooking the Hoosic River. Go a bit further and you’ll end up on the Farmhouse. Built in 1813, it still stands to offer cocktails and live music to guests. Find comfort in the cozy ranch-style common room that features a fireplace, and take a few steps to reach the patio overlooking the wetlands. Whether you prefer being alone or meeting other “tourists,” this is the place to be.

BOOK HERE

Photos courtesy of Tourists Hotel

The Smallest Panerai Watch Ever Is Big on Style

The Royal Italian Navy knows a thing or two about the need for a dive watch — which is why they turned to Italian watchmaker Panerai on the eve of World War II to outfit them with a durable diver to withstand the rigors of use by armed services.

This partnership started with the Radiomir and eventually yielded the Panerai Luminor 1950, a timepiece that has helped cast the foundation for Panerai while also becoming highly-adored throughout the watch world and beyond for its unique look.

The Luminor 1950 utilized many of the Radiomir’s details that were built for long durations underwater: a 47mm cushion-shaped steel case, luminescent numerals and indices, lugs made from the same block of steel as the case and the use of overlapping plates for the dial (known as sandwich construction).

Where the Luminor 1950 took the next step was the development of the crown-protecting bridge and lever. This advancement made the timepiece an ultimate tool watch for heavy use in the field and on the sea. It also created the iconic Panerai Luminor look that is recognized worldwide today and played a major role in the larger watch trend of the ’90s and early ’00s.

Not everyone can strap a 47mm watch on their wrist and make it work though. Sometimes the moment calls for a slimmer, more elegant watch that fits under a shirt cuff and leans to the dress style. Which is why Panerai saw the need to create a more versatile version of its iconic Luminor case. The Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm is at the center of the latest Luminor Due Collection. It sports a case that’s nearly 40 percent slimmer than the original and is the first watch Panerai has ever made that is smaller than 40mm.

To do this, Panerai needed to rework the iconic Luminor design technically. Coming in at 11.2mm thick, the PAM00903 features a mechanical automatic calibre that offers a three-day power reserve. It also includes a subsidiary seconds counter at the 9 o’clock position.

Despite being placed in a smaller package, it still feels and looks like its siblings in the Panerai Luminor collection. The signature cushion-shaped case with the crown-protecting bridge and lever are part of the Panerai DNA and included in the slimmer timepiece. The case is made from AISI 316L polished steel for a sophisticated design and feel on the wrist.

The ivory dial of this model is not built in the sandwich-style Panerai fashion but instead offers blue Arabic numerals with applied luminous dots. The pencil-shaped hour and minute hands bring an elongated elegance to the dial that pairs nicely with the blue leather strap and its saffiano finish.

This strap also features another new Panerai innovation: a quick release strap changing system. The intuitive design makes switching out the strap without tools fast and easy — placing slight pressure on the back of the strap near the attachment does the trick. And reattaching a strap is just as effortless, further enhancing the versatility of this smaller Panerai timepiece.

Shrinking down an icon is no easy feat, and Panerai has done well in this pursuit to create a more adaptable watch that can fit under any shirt cuff or suit sleeve. The Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm has the classic Panerai tool watch appearance but functions as a stylish dress watch, basically giving every wrist the best of both worlds.

5 Questions with Fred Noe, the Bourbon Legend Behind One of Whiskey’s Best Brands

Booker Noe, grandson of the legendary whiskey producer Jim Beam, toiled in the aging warehouses of his family’s Boston, Kentucky, operation for decades before he finally made a bourbon he was proud to drink.

The year was 1987. Whiskey was down, dominated by the popularity of vodka and other clear spirits. And the bourbon that did sell was similarly light-bodied. “My dad thought it was giving bourbon and whiskey a bad wrap,” said Noe’s son, Fred, who took over the reins at Jim Beam back in 2007.

That small-batch whiskey Noe concocted was anything but light. It was uncut and unfiltered, with a proof that’ll make your eyes water. For the first year, Noe reserved it for his favorite wholesalers, who were lucky enough to receive a bottle of the stuff around Christmas. But it was too good not to share. Booker’s Bourbon hit shelves in 1988, and its high-proof reputation has garnered it cult-like admiration among bourbon elite in the three decades since.

“It wasn’t like he set out to specifically create something that was important. It was just the culmination of his education, of his own self.”

Fred, who’s overseen Booker’s since the early 2000s, said his dad didn’t set out for any reason other than making good bourbon. “It wasn’t like he set out to specifically create something that was important. It was just the culmination of his education, of his own self.”

Fred isn’t like his dad. And he isn’t like his son, Freddie — the heir apparent to the Jim Beam dynasty. Fred is more bourbon evangelist than bourbon technician, and he has no problem telling you that over a glass of whiskey.

The great-grandson of Jim Beam, Fred is a storyteller through-and-through. Going on the road with Hank Williams, Jr. Making rye whiskey by hand in a three-hundred-year-old still at Mount Vernon. Burying his dad with the first bottle of his own bourbon (and his dog). No matter what you talk about in the wide world of whiskey, he’s got an out-of-left-field adlib to share.

With the release of Booker’s 30th-anniversary bottle, we caught up with Fred Noe, seventh-generation Jim Beam Master Distiller, to talk about how far whiskey has come since his dad’s days at the still.

Q: Your family is a bunch of whiskey old-timers — how have whiskey makers changed since Booker’s time?
A: In the Seventies, bourbon was real slow. There was one of this “bourbon boom” talk, nobody was asking if there was a bubble. We wished there was a bubble. And none of the money men were out here hankering for expensive bottles of bourbon, either. We were getting beat by the vodka and clear liquor guys. Everybody was looking for lighter spirits, so everybody started to make light bourbons and whiskeys. My dad thought it was giving bourbon and whiskey a bad wrap.

Q: How have drinkers changed?
A: I always say just look at them old guys and you’ll see pretty quick. They drank one brand and one bottle — that’s it. If my grandfather on my mom’s side was drinking, you better believe it was an old whiskey called Old Tub, and that’s what he drank. He didn’t drink beer, wine or vodka. If we didn’t have no Old Tub, then he drank water.

Q: Do whiskey drinkers know more about whiskey today?
A: Absolutely. I get questions from regular drinkers at a bar and I ask myself, “Are you gonna start making whiskey here soon? Are you about to be my competition?” Back in the day, the questions were more along the lines of, “How many times can you use a barrel?” Or, “What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey?”

Q: What do people ask you about whiskey nowadays?
A: Shit, now I got people asking, “Well, if you were going to use a pot still…” Years ago, we didn’t even know the damn difference between a pot still and a regular still. You can’t bullshit these folks no more, and that’s a good thing. The second you make something and try to fib about quality, they’ll know. And they’ll roast you for it.

Q: Did you or your dad ever think bourbon would get this big? You’re basically a whiskey celebrity.
A: It’s still a bit unreal. We were at a Christmas party one year and [my dad’s] cousin Parker Beam, who ran Heaven Hill then, tasted an early version of Booker’s. Booker told him he was going to sell it at $50 because that’s what it’s worth.

Parker said something like, “Booker you really think them boys gonna spend $50 on a bottle of bourbon?” I still remember my dad’s reply. Looked him dead in the eye and said something like, “Parker, they’ll give $50 — look at what the give for that damn Scotch.”

It was really a test at the time. We were going someplace nobody had ever really gone before. We didn’t know if it had worked then, but we know now.

Eufy RoboVac 30C

Robot vacuums need not be expensive as long as they do a great job in cleaning, just like the Eufy RoboVac 30C. It costs less than other app-enabled vacuums. It’s the ideal automated vacuum for budget-conscious folks, who look for reliability and quality more than physical beauty.

Eufy, a sub-brand of Anker Innovations, updated its previously released RoboVac30 with smart additions. The automated vacuum now makes cleaning even more convenient and hands-free with its built-in compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled devises, thus the “C,” which stands for “Connected. The next time you want the floors cleaned you can just use voice commands.

The RoboVac30C also offers automated cleaning that you can control via your smartphone thanks to its built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. A companion app allows you to set cleaning schedules as well as command the machine.

This machine has a beefed up suction power of 1500 Pascal and an updated version of BoostIQ Technology, which increases the power when needed, so you don’t have to worry about the device cranking up when cleaning carpets from hardwood floors.

Moreover, the RoboVac30C boasts a skinnier design. It’s unlike any of its kind since it efficiently cleans surfaces especially when it comes to low-riding furniture.

Get Yours Here

Photos Courtesy of Eufy

Today in Gear: 2018’s Best Tech Releases, Our Favorite New Winter Running Kits & More

Today in Gear is our daily roundup of all the latest product announcements, drops and deals. Comments or concerns? We’d love to hear from you at tig@gearpatrol.com.


New & Noteworthy Releases

HODINKEE Just Collaborated with Hermès on Two Beautiful New Limited Edition Watches

HODINKEE Just Collaborated with Hermès on Two Beautiful New Limited Edition Watches

These two special editions feature gorgeous blue dials made especially for this collab with HODINKEE.

These Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds Are Just $80

These Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds Are Just $80

Yep, that’s $220 than what the Bose QC30s are going for.

The World’s Top Whiskey Expert Says This Is One of the Best Bottles of the Year

The World’s Top Whiskey Expert Says This Is One of the Best Bottles of the Year

Canadian Club’s new 41-year-old expression is its oldest to date. But it’s not just for show — this is a great bottle of booze.

We Bet Ralph Lauren Will Love These New Running Shoes

We Bet Ralph Lauren Will Love These New Running Shoes

District Vision teams up with Salomon, one of the most recognized brands in the trail running community, to create a new sneaker.

This Is the Underrated Piece of Camping Gear Everyone Needs

This Is the Underrated Piece of Camping Gear Everyone Needs

Tarps are as basic as camping gear gets, but they’re also equally versatile. Kammok’s new Khuli Pro might be one of the best.

The AX-9 Is the Versatile Adventure Motorcycle Helmet You Need

The AX-9 Is the Versatile Adventure Motorcycle Helmet You Need

AGV announced the all-new AX-9 adventure riding helmet earlier this year and it’s finally hitting US shores.

This Lightweight Ducati Supersport Will Take You Back in Time

This Lightweight Ducati Supersport Will Take You Back in Time

At zero miles, with factory plastic wrap still intact, this Ducati Supersport 1000DS ‘Race’ could be yours for just under $5,000.


Fresh Deals


Outerknown’s 24 Hour Sale
Save 30% on These World-Saving Jeans Outerknown’s sustainable S.E.A line includes three truly great looking pairs of jeans in a variety of colors, and all of them are built from earth-friendly materials in a construction that’s made to last. For the next 24 hours, you can take 30 percent off a pair of jeans that just might help save the world. All you have to do is enter the code JEANS30 at checkout to take advantage of the deal.PIECE— Justin Fenner

J.Crew’s Extremely Affordable Cashmere
From Under $100 to Under $60 J.Crew’s Everyday Cashmere Sweater is a bargain at its full price of $98, but right now Nordstrom has marked it down by 40 percent.— Justin Fenner



Titleist Golf Balls
Save $8 Among the hundreds of deals and price drops associated with Amazon’s sports-themed Deal of the Day today, a diamond of a deal lies hidden in the rough. That diamond is actually a dozen diamonds, and it’s Titleist golf balls. The V1 and the V1x sets (the only difference is softness) are down a paltry $8, but seeing as that’s the lowest price either set has ever been on Amazon, the drop is welcome all the same. It’s likely this will be the easiest stocking stuffer decision of the year. —Will Price

Winter Vacation Clothing
Save up to 79%:If you’re using the winter holiday to escape to a warmer climate, it’s worth picking up some new clothes suitable for your trip. Though most retailers are still hocking cool-weather garb, a couple stores are selling beach-ready clothing at steep discounts. Head over to Todd Snyder for Los Angeles-made polos and swing by Nordstrom Rack to score some understated trunks — you’ll save up to 68 percent. — John Zientek


Today on Gear Patrol

The 10 Best Tech Products of 2018
Technology doesn’t slow down for anything and this year’s top gadgets proved it.

With the Series 4, Apple Mastered the Smartwatch. Finally.
Four years down the road, the Apple Watch comes into its own.

These Are the Best-Sounding True Wireless Earbuds, Bar None

These Are the Best-Sounding True Wireless Earbuds, Bar None

The Momentum True Wireless offer tremendous sound quality, comfort, battery life and connectivity.

The Inventor of the Snowboard Has a New Brand

The Inventor of the Snowboard Has a New Brand

After a rare nervous syndrome brought Jake Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards, to the brink of death, he decided to get creative.

The Best Winter Running Kits of 2018

The Best Winter Running Kits of 2018

Let no temperatures dissuade you from logging your miles outside this winter.

What’s the Best Way to Keep Coffee Fresh? Science Says to Keep the Bag.

What’s the Best Way to Keep Coffee Fresh? Science Says to Keep the Bag.

What is the best way to keep coffee fresher, longer? As it turns out, it’s probably best to just leave it in the bag.

I’ve Had This Fleece in My Winter Kit for the Past 7 Years. Here’s Why

I’ve Had This Fleece in My Winter Kit for the Past 7 Years. Here’s Why

The Arc’teryx Stryka Hoody is the ultimate outdoor fleece.

This Japanese-Made Flight Jacket Is Lined with Alpaca Fleece

This Japanese-Made Flight Jacket Is Lined with Alpaca Fleece

A modern take on the B-2 flight jacket.

The Perfect Speaker Upgrade For All Roku Smart TVs

The Perfect Speaker Upgrade For All Roku Smart TVs

Bottom line: if you own a Roku smart TV, and you want better sound quality without spending a fortune, these speakers are a no-brainer buy.

The 14 Best Gifts for Trail Runners

The 14 Best Gifts for Trail Runners

Over the river and through the woods, these gifts will go the distance.

I’ll Wear This Weird Techy Crewneck Pullover Every Day

I’ll Wear This Weird Techy Crewneck Pullover Every Day

The North Face’s Ventrix pullover is outdoor lifestyle apparel at its best. I wear mine to the top of mountains and in downtown New York.

The 15 Best Affordable Mechanical Watches

The 15 Best Affordable Mechanical Watches

A mechanical watch doesn’t have to break the bank — here are 15 of the most affordable, from field watches to divers to dress watches.

This Performance Mountain Wear Is Designed to be Worn Anywhere

This Performance Mountain Wear Is Designed to be Worn Anywhere

Aztech Mountain creates garments that can transition from ideal performance on the mountain to après style without missing a beat.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Lumapod Tripod

Tripods are important for a variety of reasons: they provide stability during picture taking, make long-hour capture convenient, and offers a comfortable video or camera recording. Sometimes though, tripods can be cumbersome because they are not portable, lightweight, or collapsible. The Lumapod Tripod, on the other hand, provides comfort in transport because it’s collapsible.

This camera tripod has an ultra-compact design and sets up fast at an impressive four seconds. Despite its lightweight build, this tripod offers stability because its solid base is made from high-grade aluminum and its supporting ropes from Kevlar (yes, the same one used in bulletproof vests).

The Lumapod Tripod comes in two height models, the Go85 (85cm) and Go120 (120 cm). The Go85 is compatible with GoPro, smartphones, and cameras that weigh up to 2.2 pounds.  This model has integrated terrain levelers for stability on uneven surfaces.

Unlike the Go85, the Go120 has modular leg extensions and comes with wheel extensions so you can convert your tripod into a slider. It also comes with terrain levelers and can support cameras up to 4.4 pounds in weight.

The Lumapod Tripod is the perfect device to bring in your travels or outdoor adventures because of its versatility. You can use it as a selfie stick, or a monopod to capture live Hyperlapses, or you can set it down on the ground to shoot a portrait.

Get Yours Here

Photos Courtesy of Lumapod

The Best Deals of the Day: December 13, 2018

Welcome to Deals of Note, where Gear Patrol captures all the best deals of the day. You can also follow all our deal posts in the Deals section. Comments or concerns? We’d love to hear from you at deals@gearpatrol.com.

The Chuck Taylor high-top from Converse is one of the most recognizable sneakers of all-time. Converse has done well to utilize the original 1970s design to create fresh takes on the basketball sneaker while still keeping the cherished original intact.

One of those fresh takes is the Chuck 70 Suede High Top that features premium materials and comes in five different colors. It offers a mountain-inspired patch, a woven textile tongue, rope laces, varnished foxing tape and an OrthoLite insole. And from Dec. 13 to 15 Converse is running a deal for 60% off the Chuck 70 Suede High Top when you use the discount code 60SUEDE.


Outerknown’s 24 Hour Sale
Save 30% on These World-Saving Jeans Outerknown’s sustainable S.E.A line includes three truly great looking pairs of jeans in a variety of colors, and all of them are built from earth-friendly materials in a construction that’s made to last. For the next 24 hours, you can take 30 percent off a pair of jeans that just might help save the world. All you have to do is enter the code JEANS30 at checkout to take advantage of the deal.PIECE— Justin Fenner

J.Crew’s Extremely Affordable Cashmere
From Under $100 to Under $60 J.Crew’s Everyday Cashmere Sweater is a bargain at its full price of $98, but right now Nordstrom has marked it down by 40 percent.— Justin Fenner


Titleist Golf Balls
Save $8 Among the hundreds of deals and price drops associated with Amazon’s sports-themed Deal of the Day today, a diamond of a deal lies hidden in the rough. That diamond is actually a dozen diamonds, and it’s Titleist golf balls. The V1 and the V1x sets (the only difference is softness) are down a paltry $8, but seeing as that’s the lowest price either set has ever been on Amazon, the drop is welcome all the same. It’s likely this will be the easiest stocking stuffer decision of the year. —Will Price

Winter Vacation Clothing
Save up to 79%:If you’re using the winter holiday to escape to a warmer climate, it’s worth picking up some new clothes suitable for your trip. Though most retailers are still hocking cool-weather garb, a couple stores are selling beach-ready clothing at steep discounts. Head over to Todd Snyder for Los Angeles-made polos and swing by Nordstrom Rack to score some understated trunks — you’ll save up to 68 percent. — John Zientek

The 100 Best Products of 2018, Now in Print

Introducing Issue Eight, the sixth iteration of the GP100 and the first-ever in print. Get Your Copy Today

See More Deals

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.