All posts in “Sports and Outdoors”

The Surprising Reason So Many Brands Are Launching Carbon Running Shoes Right Now

You know how NASCAR’s race cars all derive from commercially available Fords, Chevys and the like? The same thing appears to be happening in the marathon racing world, in response to new World Athletics rules dictating what shoes can be worn in sanctioned competitions such as the Tokyo Olympics, which begin July 24th. 

Along with stringent product specs — like how many carbon plates can be used (one) and how high the sole can be (40 millimeters) — the rules stipulate that shoes must be commercially available for at least four months to be legal for competitive use. Hence, all the new Air Zooms Nike teased last week, and today, dueling carbon fiber shoe announcements from two other major running brands, Adidas and New Balance.

From what we can tell, both launches have much to offer serious runners, in somewhat different ways. Here’s a quick look at the highlights of the new Adidas adizero Pro and New Balance FuelCell TC.

Adidas adizero Pro

Adidas has seen loads of distance-running success with its adizero line, dating back to Haile Gebrselassie breaking the men’s marathon world record in 2008. More recently, adizeros wrapped the feet of Mary Keitany when she broke the women’s record in 2017 and Rhonex Kipruto when he laid down the 10K record last month.

For the latest iteration, Adidas re-teamed with Japanese running shoe guru Yoshitori Omori to reshape the shoe and loaded it with fast, efficient tech. Newsworthy features include Lightstrike, an ultralight TPU foam noted for its energy return capability, and a Carbitex carbon plate, engineered to encourage springy toe-offs that keep your feet flying smoothly and efficiently.

Two other notable elements are the super-thin Celermesh upper, which minimizes weight while maximizing a reliable fit, and the brand’s beloved Boost foam in the heel to add a level of comfort that should be much appreciated over 26.2 miles.

The adizero Pro will become available online and in select markets on April 1st and worldwide on May 15th. Lest you fear that would leave it ineligible for the Olympics, it’s worth noting that the women’s and men’s marathons don’t take place until August 8th and 9th, respectively.

New Balance FuelCell TC

As opposed to a lot of recent launches, New Balance is positioning the TC as not only a competition shoe but also a training option, giving it a broad appeal for both recreational and competitive runners.

It’s essentially a more durable racing flat, with similar qualities to the FuelCell 5280, which Jenny Simpson wore to win her eighth Fifth Avenue Mile title last year, in record time. It features a full-length carbon plate (of course), a breathable mesh upper and a tough rubber outsole. Our own Meg Lappe got a chance to try the TC out while doing a 7 x 1000 speed workout at marathon pace, and here are her initial thoughts:

“They feel more stable than Nike’s Next%s, more like shoes you can wear for more than just your big marathon debut.

“I felt propelled forward, even during warm ups. I’m a forefoot striker and the plate was very tangible throughout the entire workout. I tried swapping to a heel strike and the heel is just super soft. I would recommend this shoe more for forefoot strikers than heel strikers, as you feel the most bounce back/energy return in the forefoot.”

“The shape is very similar to the FuelCell Rebel, which I love for speed workouts, but this one feels better suited to long-distance training runs than speed work.”

The FuelCell TC dropped February 14th, but is currently sold out on New Balance’s site.

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

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Did We Just Find the Perfect Pants for Travel?

<!–Did We Just Find the Perfect Pants for Travel? • Gear Patrol<!– –>

What makes one pair of pants travel better than another? Our answer is undeniably subjective, but we think it’s a good one: the ideal pair of travel pants should be comfortable enough for hours on a plane, durable enough to hit the ground running on arrival, and stylish enough to stroll into a meeting (if that’s where you’re running). It might sound like too much to ask for, but Telluride-based Western Rise has done it before and is doing it again with its new Diversion Pant.

The Diversion follows the standard Western Rise set with its Slim Rivet Pant, which made our list of the best travel pants available (and about which one staffer wrote, “These are the pants that Tony Stark would design and wear.”) Featuring a four-way stretch fabric, the pants are soft on the inside but workwear-durable and water-repellent on the outside.

Western Rise also built the Diversion with a slim taper that conceals all this practicality in a layer of taste that says, “These are my nice pants.” And with that, the last box in our travel pant criteria earns its check.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

<!–

–>

<!– –><!–

–>

This New Hydration Reservoir Has a Surprising Second Use

<!–This New Hydration Reservoir Has a Surprising Second Use • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Double Duty


The way we see it, there are a few major ways to cut space and weight in the backcountry. One is to shell out for products featuring ultralight space-age materials like carbon fiber and Dyneema. Another is to go spartan and simply do without some creature comforts. A third approach, however, might be our favorite: pack items that can do more than one job. Which brings us to the Hydrolight Reservoir, a hydration sleeve that doubles as, yes, a camp lantern.

It’s a simple idea executed well. In addition to two liters of water storage — plus standard qualities like a slide lock, self-sealing bite valve and durable welded seams — the Hydrolight features a separate, water-resistant pocket. Simply drop your favorite headlamp in, seal it up, and use the included woven nylon strap and buckle to suspend the unit and illuminate your campsite or tent. Note that the light dispersal is optimized by having the reservoir full of water — you know, just how you want it for it’s primary purpose: hydration on the trail.

Oh, and if you are looking for a great headlamp, Biolite’s super light and comfortable new HeadLamp 200 ($45) is an office favorite.

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

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

<!–

–>

<!– –><!–

–>

16 Things You Need to Get Into Backcountry Skiing

Man’s greatest inventions are, in no particular order, the wheel, fire, farming, the letterpress and the backcountry ski. Each fills a basic and essential need — transport, food, knowledge and fresh tracks on a powder day.

You may ask, why a ski? Because, at the dawn of this new decade, there aren’t many blank spaces left on the map. Real adventure, and the freedom that comes with it, is a rare and highly coveted commodity — if you don’t believe me, just scroll through Instagram. One of the best ways to capture this elusive good is skiing out-of-bounds.

Picking the right alpine touring setup is the first big and likely overwhelming step. Mohair skins for uphill traction? Pin bindings and airbag packs? Waxless bases, transceivers and Crayola-colored waterproof shells? With technology rapidly improving, it can be challenging for weekend warriors to figure out what skis, tools, and clothing to invest in. The options are endless, price tags high and opinions abound.

We’re here to help you simplify. If you’re ready to ditch the lift line, here’s what you need to get started, sorted by how far from the resort you plan to go.

Sidecountry

Sidecountry is terrain you get to by using lifts to get up the mountain and then leaving the patrolled area to access the goods. Most ski areas require you to have backcountry safety gear — a shovel, probe, transceiver (and a partner) — with you to ski out of bounds. Even if they don’t require it, we strongly urge you to bring these tools along.

Mammut Pro X 35

The data strongly backs up the case for airbag packs — while they aren’t perfect, they do significantly improve your chances of survival if caught in an avalanche. There are many other factors, of course, but this isn’t an investment you’ll regret. At 35 liters, the new Pro X is a great all-around size, suitable for almost any type of ski touring. The removable airbag allows you to fly with it, and it comes with all the standard features of a good ski pack — goggle pocket, helmet, poles, and ice axe carry, and a pocket for avy tools.

Backcountry Access T S Avalanche Rescue Package

One of the most trusted names in the industry, Backcountry Access, offers this kit with the three essentials of backcountry skiing: a transceiver (also called a beacon), shovel and probe. Durable, lightweight and reliable, each component is a necessary tool to have while skiing out of bounds. I’ve used the Tracker S for a couple of years and love the ease of use, battery life, and extended search range.

|

Smith Quantum MIPS

I’d recommend strapping on a helmet whenever you click into skis, whether at a resort or on a remote backcountry trip. The dangers may vary, but the risk is the same. If you crash and hit your head, bad things happen, and if you’re out of bounds, help is a lot farther away. To avoid this doom and gloom scenario, the new Quantum is comfortable, easy to use, light to pack and carry, breaths well (for those sweaty uphill climbs), and most importantly, offers high-level protection.

|

Smith 4D Mag

A natural skeptic, I didn’t believe the marketing when I first read about the 4D launch. Twenty-five percent more vision than any other goggle? Psssh. Yet, curiosity eventually won me over, and I decided to test these new eye covers — and holy cow do they actually work! I’ve been impressed with their durable lens and lack of fogging, too.

|

Slackcountry

Among skiers, slackcountry is understood as easy-to-reach backcountry terrain. Some say it’s the lazy man’s backcountry, but I believe it’s the smart man’s zone, too. If you want to avoid the chaos of a resort but still maximize your turns, find yourself an easy-to-access slackcountry area. My favorite is Teton Pass, just outside of Jackson, Wyoming. Drive to the parking lot, hike as high as you want, rip turns down to the road, hitch back to your car and repeat. You’ll need to add a few essentials to your kit.

BioLite HeadLamp 200

With no resort overlords forbidding turns before the lifts spin at 9 AM, you can wake up and ski as early as you want — even a lap or two before work. Dawn patrol in the winter often means hiking uphill in the darkness, though. Luckily, the newly launched HeadLamp 200 is featherweight and as bright as a car headlight, which should help you from losing your way. Even if you don’t start before dawn, stashing a headlamp in your backpack is a good idea, in case a day out proves longer than anticipated.

Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody

Heat management is essential for all off-piste ski missions. Staying warm while not overheating is a delicate balance for anyone to strike; sweating too much can lead to getting dangerously cold when you take a break and thus should be avoided. I’ve found the Nano-Air, a lightweight and breathable puffy for aerobic activities, adept at preventing such a scenario.

Hestra Army Leather Couloir

Finding the perfect glove can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. I generally run warm and prioritize dexterity — it’s nice to grab a snack or buckle a pack without taking my gloves off and exposing them to the cold air. For fast-and-light slackcountry touring, I use a pair of Army Leather Couloir gloves that are waterproof, durable and warm on both the up and the down.

Garmin Fenix 6

Great for a variety of outdoor sports, the Fenix 6 has become an essential tool in my backcountry ski kit. It has a ski-specific profile that can differentiate skiing from climbing and automatically shows metrics like total ascent and distance covered, whether you’re going up or down. More importantly, it has a robust GPS-supported mapping feature, so you can quickly figure out where you are.

Frontcountry

Easy access off-piste skiing is not to be looked down upon. Frontcountry ski zones are often close to urban areas, and they’re user-friendly, relatively safe and great for getting into the sport. You still have to hike or skin up to earn your turns, but if things do go wrong, it’s easy to hike back to your car. The frontcountry is where a dedicated touring setup starts to become essential.

Black Crows Ferox Freebird

The latest touring ski from Black Crows, the Ferox is a lightweight, floaty, fun-making machine. Designed for a variety of mountain adventures, the ski performs well on resorts and big mountains but truly excels in deep powder. Double rocker, classic camber, new lightweight fibers, and an extended sidecut add up to one of the best backcountry skis on the market. The Freebird makes touring easy on the way up and a party on the way down.

Marker M-Werks 12

Building on the success of its predecessor, the Kingpin, the M-Werks makes some critical improvements to weight and usability. This binding is the best crossover for the resort, as well as frontcountry and backcountry skiing. Efficient power transfer, easy transitions from uphill mode to downhill, burly build quality and an anti-icing design make the M-Werks my go-to binding for nearly everything.

Black Crows Duos Freebird

Sometimes less is more. The Duo uses a two-part alloy composite that adjusts easily and offers an extended grip that’s great for steep climbs and long traverses. Because these poles are durable, straightforward and functional, I use them for just about everything from hot laps to multi-day trips.

G3 Minimist Glide

The most under-appreciated yet necessary tool of a backcountry ski setup is a good pair of climbing skins. They need to stick to the base of your skis — lap after lap and season after season — and grip on steep slopes without adding a ton of weight or getting clumped up with snow and ice. I rely on G3’s Minimist Glide, made up of a mix of 70 percent mohair and 30 percent nylon, and it’s taken me up (and down) many a peak.

Backcountry

Technically, anywhere you ski without patrollers working to control avalanche risks is the backcountry. For our purposes here, backcountry skiing refers to far-out tours and overnight trips in remote places. Big mountain skiing requires a high level of skill, knowledge and risk assessment ability, not to mention trust in your partners. None of it should be underestimated. Neither should bringing the right gear.

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Anorak & Bibs

An excellent waterproof shell keeps you dry on deep days while letting your body breathe on long climbs. It has ample vents and pockets while staying light and straightforward. It’s a sweet spot that’s hard to hit — and Mountain Hardwear’s new High Exposure kit nails it. After weeks of touring in these bibs and anorak, I’m impressed with how well it works in all conditions, without showing signs of wear and tear.

|

Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour

It’s nearly impossible to have a lightweight and flexible backcountry boot that skis like a stiff and stable race boot, but the new Hoji Pro gets awfully close. The design provides a rigid boot that transfers power well while allowing a 55-degree cuff rotation for more natural uphill walking, giving you maximum freedom of movement. What’s more, the locking mechanism is easy and quick, making transitions a breeze.

|

DPS Phantom 2.0

Of the entire list, Phantom wins the award for the best bang for your buck. Some waxing diehards may sneer, but this new waxless base is a real game-changer. Apply it once and have skis that slide faster on any surface, from hardpack to crud, corn and corduroy, forever. Even better, Phantom adds durability, and unlike most waxes, it doesn’t pollute the environment with nasty chemicals.

Pro Bar Meal

Last but not least, you should always bring food and water along while backcountry skiing. Whether it be an hour, a full day or more, extra snacks and water can be the difference between a fun and safe day out, and a giant, exhausting mistake. My go-to snack for long tours is a hardy Pro Bar Meal because it’s made of real food ingredients, is nutrient-dense and delicious.

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

Scoring Custom Skis Is Easier Than You Think — Here’s How

So many skis, so little time. Powder, all-mountain, touring, park and more. Yes, the choices are abundant. Coming to a decision on the best ski for you can be a rather daunting task. Some gear guides are helpful, but some just seem to complicate the process of ski buying. Reading too many of them has the potential to send your head spinning in ways only a triple cork 1440 can reproduce. 

It’s not a reach to say that most of the ski buying population does not know much about how skis are constructed and the effect that will have on your skiing. Most of us do a little research and maybe some testing before settling on a ski that looks dope. But is it possible to do better, to find a ski that brings back childlike joy every time you schuss down the slopes? Maybe it’s time to go custom.

With more and more custom ski brands popping up, custom skis are become much more feasible. Based in Crested Butte, Colorado, Romp Skis is one such brand. Brothers Morgan and Caleb Weinberg are committed to simplifying the custom ski buying process and producing skis made just the way you like them. In fact, those skis may be just one educational phone call away.

What do you do with your tools when the construction industry slows? That’s exactly the question the brothers Weinberg faced a decade ago. Sitting around and waiting for it to pick back up wasn’t an option, so they decided to make skis.

“During the winter of 2009, Morgan found a few articles online that showed that some new techniques had been developed allowing people to make skis in a garage with general construction tools,” recalls Caleb. Being general contractors, they had the tools they needed, and that winter they built eight pairs of skis.

Rudimentary looks didn’t discourage friends and industry professionals from giving them a try. And when they returned with rave reviews, the brothers decided to turn their winter hobby into a business. Thus, Romp Skis was born.

The brand now has a full boutique factory in downtown Crested Butte. There, the brothers are producing a full line of stock and custom skis for skiers of all abilities. Yes, all abilities. Many people think that custom skis are only for experts, but Caleb strongly disagrees.

“Custom skis really can benefit any skier,” he insists. “Our custom ski interview and purchase process is geared to help us understand the needs and aspirations of every skier regardless of ability.”

It really boils down to a simple 30-minute phone call. This interview has developed over years in the industry and is meant to coach the buyer through the process. After questions about the types of terrain you spend the most time on (powder, groomers, bumps, etc.), it then shifts to the types of turns that you make in each area. Over time, and with the realization that most customers do not know much about skis, the Weinbergs have steadily refined the types of questions they ask.

Seeking to find out more of what the skier knows about their own skiing, Caleb states: “We found that we could get a much clearer picture of what they needed. Our designers then take it from there and create a pair of skis that will work perfectly for what the skier needs.”

The Surprising Reason Multiple Brands Are Launching Carbon Racing Shoes Right Now

You know how NASCAR’s race cars all derive from commercially available Fords, Chevys and the like? The same thing appears to be happening in the marathon racing world, in response to a new World Athletics rules dictating what shoes can be worn in sanctioned competitions such as the Tokyo Olympics, which begin July 24th. 

Along with stringent product specs — like how many carbon plates can be used (one) and how high the sole can be (40 millimeters) — the rules stipulate that shoes must be commercially available for at least four months to be legal for competitive use. Hence, all the new Air Zooms Nike teased last week, and today, dueling carbon shoe announcements from two other major running brands, Adidas and New Balance.

From what we can tell, both launches have much to offer serious runners, in somewhat different ways. Here’s a quick look at the highlights of the new Adidas adizero Pro and New Balance FuelCell TC.

Adidas adizero Pro

Adidas has seen loads of distance-running success with its adizero line, dating back to Haile Gebrselassie breaking the men’s marathon world record in 2008. More recently, adizeros wrapped the feet of Mary Keitany when she broke the women’s record in 2017 and Rhonex Kipruto when he laid down the 10K record last month.

For the latest iteration, Adidas re-teamed with Japanese running shoe guru Yoshitori Omori to reshape the shoe and loaded it with fast, efficient tech. Newsworthy features include Lightstrike, an ultralight TPU foam noted for its energy return capability, and a Carbitex carbon plate, engineered to encourage springy toe-offs that keep your feet flying smoothly and efficiently.

Two other notable elements are the super-thin Celermesh upper, which minimizes weight while maximizing a reliable fit, and the brand’s beloved Boost foam in the heel to add a level of comfort that should be much appreciated over 26.2 miles.

The adizero Pro will become available online and in select markets on April 1st and worldwide on May 15th. Lest you fear that would leave it ineligible for the Olympics, it’s worth noting that the women’s and men’s marathons don’t take place until August 8th and 9th, respectively.

New Balance FuelCell TC

As opposed to a lot of recent launches, New Balance is positioning the TC as not only a competition shoe but also a training option, giving it a broad appeal for both recreational and competitive runners.

It’s essentially a more durable racing flat, featuring similar qualities to the GP-approved 5280s, including a carbon plate (of course), as well as a burly rubber outsole. Our own Meg Lappe got a chance to try these out while doing a 7 x 1000 speed workout at marathon pace, and here are her initial thoughts:

“They feel more stable than Nike’s Next%s, more like shoes you can wear for more than just your big marathon debut.

“I felt propelled forward, even during warm ups. I’m a forefoot striker and the plate was very tangible throughout the entire workout. I tried swapping to a heel strike and the heel is just super soft. I would recommend this shoe more for forefoot strikers than heel strikers, as you feel the most bounce back/energy return in the forefoot.”

“The shape is very similar to the FuelCell Rebel, which I love for speed workouts, but this one feels better suited to long-distance training runs than speed work.”

The FuelCell TC will be available this Friday for $200.

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

Ever Wonder What That Funky Little Loop on the Finger of Your Ski Glove Is For? We Found Out

Take a moment to look at your winter gloves. If they are specifically designed for skiing, snowboarding or another alpine use, there’s a reasonable chance that one of the fingers of each features an unobtrusive little leather or synthetic loop. Now you’re probably wondering: what is this thing? Well, unlike, say, the pom pom on your après hat, it’s not just for looks. (Pom-poms have a rich history but are largely decorative these days.)

Rather, it has a very specific backcountry use, plus a secondary application for the less adventurous among us.

“Those loops on the finger allow you to take a carabiner and hang your gloves on your pack with the opening facing down,” explains Drew Eakins, marketing manager at Hestra Gloves. “That way you don’t get any snow or debris in the gloves when you are hiking.”

But even if you’re not an alpine climber or backcountry skinner, these so-called carabiner clasps can come in handy. “They also allow you to dry your gloves with the fingers upward,” Eakins adds. “So that any condensation rolls out the bottom instead of pooling in the fingers.”

Speaking of drying your gloves, Hestra has a few bonus tips on that front. Dry them at room temperature, with the fingers facing up (using the carabiner clasps if the gloves have them). Do not turn lined gloves inside out, as the liner, insulation and membrane can be tricky to get back in place. And if the liners are removable, take them out and dry them separately, which takes less time.

Oh, and if you’re in the market for ski gloves, the Army Leather Tundra gloves pictured above are some of our favorites. They feature a tough goat leather palm, removable merino wool lining, a wide cowhide cuff… and carabiner clasps, of course.

Steve Mazzucchi

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

What Snowboarding’s Latest Innovation Means For Skiers

When I got invited to North America’s first indoor ski complex, New Jersey’s Big Snow American Dream, a couple months back to check out the latest iteration of Burton’s Step On bindings, I was beyond stoked. Not only would I be among the first people to shred the facility, but also I would get to test a product I’d been deeply curious about since its launch a couple years ago. Could it possibly be the time-saving game-changer of my dreams? Only one way to find out.

And you can ease off the edge of your seat now, because spoiler alert: Step-Ons totally work. Burton rarely introduces products that don’t, and the brand clearly put a lot of R&D into creating a system that functions pretty seamlessly — and is pretty easy to explain.

First you’ve got a boot featuring three grippy outcroppings, one at the back and two at the front. Press down firmly into a high-backed binding outfitted with complimentary clasps at those three connection points, and you are instantly clicked in — more securely, Burton’s engineers assure me, then you would be with traditional straps.

Once you get to the bottom of a run, pull a little lever to release your back foot, and you’re ready for your next lift ride. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang, you just might find yourself ruined for all other bindings.

And yet, lapping Big Snow with a bunch of other snowboarding media, I quickly started to take the tech for granted. So much so that I almost got lulled into thinking that this innovation was no big deal. Like I hadn’t spent what amounts to hours of my life on mountains all across the world, messing with straps instead of riding. Even though I taught myself how to strap in standing up — in a bout of a laziness several years back — it still takes time.

How much time? That’s something I only came to appreciate when I headed up to Vermont’s Mount Snow a month later.

With skiers.

See, as much as I hate to admit it, skiers are the real victim of snowboarding’s traditional binding systems. Along with the bitter resentment they feel every time we boarders stroll into the bar for après ski without a thought of ditching our cushy boots, skiers are also the ones feeling the minutes tick away whenever they come off the lift in a mixed group. Already clicked into their skis, they’re ready and raring to descend, only to look back at us one-plankers still fumbling with our straps.

Until now.

“Holy crap, you are so much faster,” my skiing buddy Rich raved when I asked him what he thought of the Step-Ons. “It’s almost like you’re on skis.”

Of course, such a comment is utter madness. But it’s also the strongest possible testament to how game-changing these bindings really can be.

Cruising Mount Snow, I spotted a few other riders rocking Step-Ons, but this revolution has yet to fully overtake the boarding world, probably because it takes some faith — and coin. The boots and bindings only work in concert, and the cheapest Step-On bundle is $550. That price is not exorbitant, but it’s enough to give many riders pause.

And yet, it’s clear Burton is on to something. As I noted last month, a German brand called CLEW just won an ISPO award for its own take on a revolutionary binding. And just a couple weeks ago, at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, I got a chance to play around with K2’s Clicker x HB binding (pictured above), which combines the Clicker tech the brand developed years ago with a highback to give boarders the level of control they want and the convenience they crave.

For the record, other brands have peddled their own easy-in, easy-out systems over the years: most notable among them is probably Flow Bindings, with its unique rear-entry approach. But considering that Burton has more than 30 percent of the snowboard market share and K2 Snowboards (plus its sister Ride) holds over 10 percent, we’re now looking at the makings of a movement.

Which means more brands will try to replicate the tech, and prices will eventually come down. Heck, in a few years, traditional bindings may be as rare a sight around the mountain as skinny skis or cambered boards.

Snowboarders’ — and skiers’ — lives may never be the same.

Second photo by Jesse Dawson. Third photo courtesy of K2. 

Steve Mazzucchi

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

What Snowboarding’s Innovative Recent Trend Means For Skiers

When I got invited to North America’s first indoor ski complex, New Jersey’s Big Snow American Dream, a couple months back to check out the latest iteration of Burton’s Step On bindings, I was beyond stoked. Not only would I be among the first people to shred the facility, but also I would get to test a product I’d been deeply curious about since its launch a couple years ago. Could it possibly be the time-saving game-changer of my dreams? Only one way to find out.

And you can ease off the edge of your seat now, because spoiler alert: Step-Ons totally work. Burton rarely introduces products that don’t, and the brand clearly put a lot of R&D into creating a system that functions pretty seamlessly — and is pretty easy to explain.

First you’ve got a boot featuring three grippy outcroppings, one at the back and two at the front. Press down firmly into a high-backed binding outfitted with complimentary clasps at those three connection points, and you are instantly clicked in — more securely, Burton’s engineers assure me, then you would be with traditional straps.

Once you get to the bottom of a run, pull a little lever to release your back foot, and you’re ready for your next lift ride. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang, you just might find yourself ruined for all other bindings.

And yet, lapping Big Snow with a bunch of other snowboarding media, I quickly started to take the tech for granted. So much so that I almost got lulled into thinking that this innovation was no big deal. Like I hadn’t spent what amounts to hours of my life on mountains all across the world, messing with straps instead of riding. Even though I taught myself how to strap in standing up — in a bout of a laziness several years back — it still takes time.

How much time? That’s something I only came to appreciate when I headed up to Vermont’s Mount Snow a month later.

With skiers.

See, as much as I hate to admit it, skiers are the real victim of snowboarding’s traditional binding systems. Along with the bitter resentment they feel every time we boarders stroll into the bar for après ski without a thought of ditching our cushy boots, skiers are also the ones feeling the minutes tick away whenever they come off the lift in a mixed group. Already clicked into their skis, they’re ready and raring to descend, only to look back at us one-plankers still fumbling with our straps.

Until now.

“Holy crap, you are so much faster,” my skiing buddy Rich raved when I asked him what he thought of the Step-Ons. “It’s almost like you’re on skis.”

Of course, such a comment is utter madness. But it’s also the strongest possible testament to how game-changing these bindings really can be.

Cruising Mount Snow, I spotted a few other riders rocking Step-Ons, but this revolution has yet to fully overtake the boarding world, probably because it takes some faith — and coin. The boots and bindings only work in concert, and the cheapest Step-On bundle is $550. That price is not exorbitant, but it’s enough to give many riders pause.

And yet, it’s clear Burton is on to something. As I noted last month, a German brand called CLEW just won an ISPO award for its own take on a revolutionary binding. And just a couple weeks ago, at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, I got a chance to play around with K2’s Clicker x HB binding (pictured above), which combines the Clicker tech the brand developed years ago with a highback to give boarders the level of control they want and the convenience they crave.

For the record, other brands have peddled their own easy-in, easy-out systems over the years: most notable among them is probably Flow Bindings, with its unique rear-entry approach. But considering that Burton has more than 30 percent of the snowboard market share and K2 Snowboards (plus its sister Ride) holds over 10 percent, we’re now looking at the makings of a movement.

Which means more brands will try to replicate the tech, and prices will eventually come down. Heck, in a few years, traditional bindings may be as rare a sight around the mountain as skinny skis or cambered boards.

Snowboarders’ — and skiers’ — lives may never be the same.

Second photo by Jesse Dawson. Third photo courtesy of K2. 

Steve Mazzucchi

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

The Best Winter Gloves for Every Activity

The cold can be debilitating for the hands of skiers, snowboarders, winter cyclists, mountaineers, truck drivers, handymen and après-ski beer drinkers. Situated far from the heart, the hands are among the first to go when body temps drop, so they need next-level protection. But depending what kind of winter activity you embrace, that protection can take a variety of forms.

Nordic skiers need more wicking and breathability than warmth; cyclists need shielding from wind and rain; and people with Raynaud’s disease just need extra insulation — or possibly heated gloves. Thankfully, no matter what your cold-weather passion is, we’ve got you covered. What follows are the best winter gloves for, well, just about everything.

Black Diamond Guide Gloves

Best Skiing Gloves

Not only are the Guide Gloves Black Diamond’s warmest winter offering, but they also sport heavy-duty nylon cuffs which cinch over your jacket sleeve and minimize the chance of snow sneaking into your liners. A waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex insert guards against precipitation and perspiration alike, while the removable liners are insulated with 170g of Primaloft Gold and lined with fluffy wool. If you are seriously concerned about frosty fingers, upgrade to the trigger-mitt-style Finger Glove, which sports the same goatskin leather palm, nylon shell and liner configuration as the Guide Glove but groups the pinky, ring, and middle finger together for increased warmth.

Oakley Silverado Gloves

Best Snowboarding Gloves

With a low-profile style (assuming you skip the bloodred colorway), zippered cuff and unparalleled dexterity, the Gore-Tex-equipped Oakley Silverado is our go-to glove for snowboarding. Whether you’re tightening your bindings at the top of your line or cranking a method off a cat track, these nimble-fingered gloves deliver the articulation that snowboarders require. Warmth often comes at the price of agility, but Oakley combined a leather shell and 3M Thinsulate insulation for a glove that has top-notch range of motion and can still handle all but the coldest of conditions. 

Oyuki Pep Gore-Tex Trigger Mitts

Best Trigger Mitts

Designed by skiing sensei Pep Fujas and crafted by Hokkaido-based brand Oyuki, the Pep Trigger Mitt is hands down (pun intended) our all-time favorite trigger mitt. And whether you’re a diehard resort ripper or a backcountry bum, chances are you’ll love the Pep, too. It’s primed for powder days thanks to a supple goatskin shell, Gore-Tex membrane, and 200g of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation. The innovative, embroidered neoprene cuff and mountains stitched into the back of the glove solidify the Pep as one of the most stylish gloves in the game.

Hestra Gloves Army Leather Ascent

Best Mountaineering Gloves

If a skier drops a pole, it’s no big deal. If a mountaineer drops a rope or an ice ax, the consequences can be dire. Hestra, storied Swedish defender of digits, has long since been a brand of choice for mountaineers due to the brand’s warm, reliable insulation and grippy leather palms. While Hestra offers even burlier mountaineering mitts like the Expedition, the Cordura stretch and leather Ascent Gloves sport a robust, secure grip that alpinists will appreciate.

Baffin Polar Mitts

Best Winter Camping Mitts

Whether you’re embarking on an arctic expedition or a winter camping trip in your backyard, relying on Baffin’s Polar Mitts is a smart decision. But don’t take our word for it: Eric Larsen, a polar explorer who is understandably fastidious about his gear, relies on these Polar Mitts in the chilliest, most uninviting corners of the world. Primarily known as a cold-weather bootmaker, Baffin borrowed insulation from their warmest winter boots when manufacturing these mitts. And should you overheat (the Polar Mitts are toasty beyond belief), the fleecy liners are easily removable.

Giro Cascade Winter Cycling Gloves

Best Cycling Gloves

If you’re fat-biking in a blizzard, the Cascade won’t cut it, but for balmy winter rides on trail and tarmac, this Giro glove gets the job done. Aptly named Polartec Windbloc fabric on the backhand of the glove mellows Zephyr’s incessant blustering, and Giro DWR-treated the Cascade so you’re all set should rain invade the forecast. Pedalers will approve of the synthetic-leather palms, warm Power Wool lining, Velcro-free elastic cuffs and touchscreen-friendly finger pads.

Oyuki Maluchi Gore-Tex Infinium Pipe Gloves

Best Ski Touring/Driving Gloves

The touchscreen-compatible Maluchi is a tech-heavy take on a traditional liner. Crafted from Gore-Tex Infinium with Windstopper, a water-resistant and mind-blowingly breathable fabric, these lightweight gloves are ideal for intense activities like trail running, ski touring and even spring park shredding. Gray goatskin leather padding in the palm tastefully offsets the black Infinium fabric and grippy silicone dots adorn the fingers, cementing the Maluchi as a top choice for winter driving, too.

Vermont Glove The Vermonter

Best Utility Gloves

For chopping firewood, shoveling driveways, general cabin maintenance and everyday use, the Vermonter is our trustworthy utility glove of choice. Vermont Glove — a relaunched, environment-friendly offshoot of longstanding Green Mountain Glove Co. — hand-stitches high-quality goatskin leather gloves out of an old creamery in Randolph, Vermont. For winter use, make sure to pair the Vermonter with one of Vermont Glove’s removable wool liners.

Outdoor Research Lucent Heated Gloves

Best Heated Gloves

Each Lucent Heated Glove has a built-in battery-powered heating system, ALTIHeat. that evenly distributes heat across the entire hand. The battery promises to last eight hours on low, five hours on medium and two-and-a-half hours on high. The gloves also have Gore-Tex inserts, making them both waterproof and windproof. These heated gloves are ideal for people who naturally have bad circulation. Just remember to charge the battery the night before.

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

Nike’s Crazy New Olympic Track Spikes Are So Fast They Look Unfinished

The first comment when images of Nike’s newest track spike started making their way around the office? “Hmm thought the image just didn’t finish loading.” And one could easily be forgiven for that notion, considering that the blade at the bottom front of the Air Zoom Viperfly just kinda tails… off. But as with almost all Nike performance footwear, there’s science behind it.

Uniquely crafted for the 100-meter dash, the Viperfly features a carbon fiber plate imbued with new Custom Fiber Placement tech, which enables a range of flex within the plate. The specific variances of carbon are based on thorough research of the race distance, and combined with the streamlined Air Zoom forefoot pod, the design should provide optimal energy return during the critical last 20 meters of the sprint, when races are won and legends are born.

Rounding out the shoe’s construction is the latest version of Nike’s flexible Flyknit upper (rebranded Atomknit), which represents minimal weight, plus a bit of foam in the heel to help sprinters transition to walking once the race has been run.

It’s worth noting that the Viperfly is just one of several new Olympics-oriented shoes the brand just announced. There’s also the Air Zoom Victory (a more traditional-looking track shoe for longer sprint races), the Air Zoom BB NXT (a basketball shoe), the Air Zoom Mercurial (a soccer shoe) and the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, an Olympics-eligible running shoe that follows in the footsteps of what Eliud Kipchoge wore to break two hours in the marathon.

Unlike that shoe, this new version conforms to the new World Athletics rules dictating what shoes can be worn in sanctioned competitions such as the Tokyo Olympics, which begin July 24th. The Alphafly NEXT% has just one embedded carbon plate and a sole height right at the maximum allowed thickness of 4o millimeters. It will go on sale later this month, as only shoes that are commercially available for at least four months can be used in competition.

The shoe we are really keeping an eye on, though, is the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% (below), which not only looks a little less funky, but is also designed for more frequent, training-oriented use, rather than one all-or-nothing 26.2 miler.

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

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

These 9 Upcoming Products Will Seriously Upgrade Your Next Winter Adventure

Fresh off a couple days of backcountry skinning and sk’riding (skiing and riding) and three days trekking the floor at Denver’s Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, our heads are still spinning. Blame the altitude, the 80-plus meetings we took or 1,000-plus products we saw — or maybe those final night margaritas. Regardless, it’s a lot to process. 

But now that we’re coming up for air, we can take a moment to reflect on everything we saw and start to make sense of it. In the big picture, a ton of awesome stuff will be dropping for next winter. But zeroing in on our favorite upcoming releases, a couple of trends emerge.

The first one is accessibility. From a layering jacket that’s simultaneously warm and breathable to the perfect winter duffel and hiking shoe to snowboard and ski bindings that make life easier on the resort and way off-piste, several innovative new products stand out simply by lowering the many barriers to entry of cold-weather activities. 

The second one, critically, is sustainability. We’re stoked to see that apparel and gear makers are taking more and more steps to make use of existing resources and minimize footprints, be that in the form of solar-powered gear, an eco-friendly hoody or an earth-friendly reinvention of a product most of us rarely think about: ski wax. 

The future of cold-weather adventure can be scary to think about: it’s hard to know how long the powder will last. But as long as the passion we saw this past week remains, you can be sure we’ll be making the most of every flake. Without further ado, here are our Editors’ Picks for the best upcoming winter products. 

Additional contributions by Tanner Bowden and Steve Mazzucchi.

We attended the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2020 and covered it extensively. To see all of our product coverage, not just our award winners, you can head here.

Adidas Terrex Free Hiker C.Dry

Adidas proved with the original Free Hiker that sneakerhead-approved style and trail functionality aren’t mutually exclusive. With the upcoming winterized C.Dry version, it’s demonstrating that it can maintain that visual appeal within a highly technical set of features. The Free Hiker C.Dry uses a stretchy Primeknit upper that zips instead of laces, and Gore-Tex’s insulated Duratherm waterproof membrane supports it with weatherproof warmth. Adidas also gave the boot a grippy Continental rubber outsole and its beloved and springy Boost foam.

Black Diamond StoneHauler Duffel

When nearly every equipment maker has added a rugged duffel to its collection in recent years, it takes a lot to make one stand out (let alone win an award). But the StoneHauler does that, thanks to carefully designed features. Inside is an integrated storage bag that cinches shut, enclosing and separating anything that might be dirty from the rest of your stuff. The 35- and 45-liter Pro models even include an exterior-access padded laptop sleeve and the requisite backpack straps. To top it off, Black Diamond made all the StoneHauler duffels with an ultra-rugged fabric that’s 100 percent recycled.

Houdini Mono Air Houdi

It’s a sad reality that the more science progresses, the more we learn about the damage some of our manufacturing processes can do. For example, microplastic pollution in our waters, the byproduct of microfiber shedding from synthetic fleece. Upstart Swedish brand Houdini and Polartec teamed up to do something about it, and this hoodie featuring Polartec Power Air — a microfiber fabric that traps air and generates heat in small pockets — is the result. It boasts the performance of traditional fleece but sheds fives times fewer fibers. It’s also made of 73 percent recycled fibers and can be recycled again. The fact that this slim-fitting, functional garment is as comfortable and stylish as they come is just a bonus.

K2 Clicker x HB Binding

A couple weeks back, we applauded the efforts of CLEW, a German brand that won an ISPO award for rivaling Burton’s Step-On binding with its own innovative tech. Now K2 has leapt into the fray, revamping its Clicker tech with a new system featuring a highback and toe-heel mounts to better mimic the feel of a classic strap-in set-up. Potential advantages over Burton’s approach? K2 Clicker boots can still be used with traditional bindings, and the process of getting in and out may come naturally to cyclists, as it’s somewhat similar to engaging an SPD pedal. Not unlike the Marker binding below, we’d love to spend more time with the Clicker x HB to fully vet it, but our limited exposure has been promising.

Marker Duke PT Ski Binding

Marker has long been a critical player in the ski binding space, but Salomon earned yards when it released its versatile uphill-downhill Shift binding. Marker’s comeback will finally arrive in the Duke PT, a transformer of a binding with a removable toe piece that lets backcountry skiers walk uphill with 10.6 fewer ounces beneath each foot (weight counters rejoice!). When it’s time to ski down, the toe piece locks back into place and stays there thanks to a lever that engages when skiers click in their boots.

MountainFlow Eco-Wax

Here’s something you probably don’t think about much: all that petroleum-based wax on the bottom of your skis or snowboard slowly sloughs off into the snowpack, and last year, an estimated 2.5 million pounds of the stuff wound up in U.S. waterways when the snow melted. Enter MountainFlow Eco-Wax, an exhaustively researched and tested blend of plant-based waxes and oils that rivals the performance of traditional ski wax and costs the same or even less. We tried it out on some Colorado slopes and hardly noticed it, which is exactly what you want from ski wax. 

POC Cornea Solar Switch Goggle

Taking a bold swing in a snow optics market flooded with photochromic, LED and interchangeable lenses, the Solar Switch is a  liquid crystal lens that changes its tint in response to dynamic conditions, darkening when the sun is bright and lightening in clouds or shadows, quickly adjusting to accommodate everything from bluebird days to tree runs. And because it’s solar-powered, you never have to worry about charging it up or running out of juice on the slopes.

The North Face Summit L5 FutureLight Ventrix Jacket

Never mind its jargon-y mouthful of a name; all you need to know about one of The North Face’s newest jackets is that it combines two of the brand’s most impressive technologies. FutureLight is an incredibly breathable waterproof shell that launched this winter, and the somewhat-older Ventrix is a lightweight and breathable insulation. Combined in this jacket, they work to create a warm mid-layer that can hold its own as an outer layer too. Together, they prove The North Face is thinking creatively about how it mixes and matches its various apparel innovations.

Yakima CBX Solar Roof Box

Like it or not, electronics are part of heading to the outdoors. When they’re at their best, they improve rather than impede the experience. By integrating a solar panel into the lid of its forthcoming cargo box, Yakima is ensuring that happens by letting you charge an external battery or power bank while you cruise to your campsite. Sunflare produced the panel for Yakima’s purposes and made sure that it’s lightweight, thin and can stand up to anything that comes after it, like hail, falling sticks or an errant trekking pole. No surprise, then, that it was named Product of the Year at the Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards — almost as lofty an honor as cracking our list.

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

The Best New Knives and EDC of February 2020

Many product launches are predictable. Take outdoor gear for example: we get new skis and down jackets in the fall, just in time for winter, and backpacks and tents in the spring. Knife companies are more sporadic. They might give us a peak at their forthcoming wares — as they did at the recent SHOT Show — and release them sporadically over months. It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why we do it for you every month through this column.

Recently, Benchmade updated one of its classics, Best Made Co. collaborated with W.R. Case & Sons, CRKT revealed a paracord folder and more.

Benchmade 535BK-2 Bugout

Portland-based Benchmade loves to iterate on one of its staple knives, the Bugout. In December we saw the company reveal a version of the folder with a transparent G10 handle, and this month we receive an all-black model with another unique handle. This time, Benchmade made it using CF-Elite, a carbon fiber-reinforced nylon that’s lightweight yet rigid. If you’re a fan of the classic blade, you’re in luck.

CRKT Parascale

Along with a sizable batch of new 2020 blades, CRKT revealed a folding paracord model called the Parascale. We haven’t seen a paracord folder before, and there’s a reason for that: Folding knives have mechanisms to pivot and lock, which get in the way of the skeletonized handle design that paracord integration usually calls for. The blade also needs an open channel to fold into, unencumbered by loops of cord. Using CRKT’s simplified Deadbolt lock and a zig-zagging weave similar to that of a shoelace, designer TJ Schwarz found a solution.

Best Made Co. x Case “Stay Sharp” Knife

From heritage Japanese denim mills to one of the only companies making synthetic spider silk, Best Made Co. knows how to pick its collaborators. One of its latest is this modest yet handsome drop-point folder made by the USA’s own Case Knives.

Best Made Co. Carpenter’s Pen

Another recent piece from Best Made is the Brass Carpenter’s Pen. It’s easy to gauge what this writing utensil is made of but harder to see all its functions from a distance. It’s a pen, of course (ballpoint), but it’s also a stylus, a level, a ruler, a scale and more than one type of screwdriver.

Leatherman Charge+ Damascus

The Charge+ is a familiar in Leatherman’s multi-tool lineup. With a high number and variety of implements, it’s strictly utilitarian, but the newest iteration gets an aesthetic upgrade. The multi-tool now comes in either carbon fiber or walnut handles with Damascus steel knife blades.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

This New Snowboard Gear Will Revolutionize How You Ride

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow, Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Looking to rediscover your stoke? We sure got ours back checking out the latest snowboard-related products here in Denver. Here are the boards, goggles, boots and more we are most excited to try out on the slopes.

Jones Stratos

Price: $579
Release Date: Available now at select Jones dealers worldwide.
The latest gorgeous release from legendary big-mountain boarder Jeremy Jones’ eponymous brand boasts the shape of a directional freerider and the soul of a freestyler. The sidecut and flex provide plenty of pop while the taper, contoured base and Float Pack inserts — which allow for a setback stance — come in handy when things get deep.

Salomon Dancehaul

Price: $450
Release Date: Fall 2020
Does that glittery topsheet give off a cheeky disco vibe? It should, because this unisex board is as playful as they come. Extra width and a tapered shape keep you on top of the snow, while the guts — Rock Out Camber, Popster Core, Ghost Basalt Stringers — ensure you’ll be shucking and jiving all across it.

Weston Hatchet Pow Slayer

Price: $650
Release Date: Fall 2020
As you might guess from the name, this board was bred for the backcountry. While it does feature a bit of park board personality, at heart it’s a directional twin that’s at its best when on those blissful, wistful powder days.

Zeal Optics Beacon

Price: $129+
Release Date: Fall 2020
There’s a reason this goggle has such an aggressive slant. The 10-degree lens angle design is based on the physics behind structures like air control towers. And the result is a goggle that cuts glare, increases vertical peripheral vision and helps you focus on the most important part of any run: the way down.

ThirtyTwo Jones MTB

Price: $650
Release Date: Fall 2020
Reflecting Jones’ passion for backcountry splitboarding, this boot specializes in easing uphill climbs. The full-zip gaiter provides protection while the “walk-mode collar” literally expands the boot for longer, more natural strides on the way up. Re-tighten with the Boa TX3 lace system at the top, and you’re ready to rip.

Oakley Thermonuclear Protection

Price: Varies
Release Date: Fall 2020
Remember the ’90s? Oakley certainly does, as they’ve been rolling out heritage-inspired collections that emphasize bold colors and eye-popping designs a lot lately. The latest iteration brings that spirit to the snow, with gloves, jackets, bibs, hoodies, hats and more that fuse modern technology and radical retro style.

MountainFlow Eco-Wax

Price: $14+
Release Date: Available now
Like so many other things we used to think of as sources of pure fun, most ski wax is made from petroleum, and last year an estimated 2.5 million pounds of it drained from American ski resort snowpack into local waters. Damn. Following two years of R&D, this new wax features a proprietary blend of plant-based material to replicate the traditional ski wax performance — without the Earth-harming guilt!

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

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

6 of the Best Upcoming Camping and Hiking Products

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

For many, that inevitable autumn day when the first snowflakes fall from the sky acts as a notification that it’s time to bin up the hiking boots and the tent and banish them to the closet until spring. Outdoor gear makers know this doesn’t have to be the case, though, and they’re creating enough warm and waterproof things to make hiking and camping in winter as comfy as hanging by the woodstove inside. Next winter, it all just gets better, too.

Mammut Trion Nordwand 15 Pack


Price: $180
Release Date: Fall 2020
Most outdoor brands have learned that to make a good running vest, they have to build it like a garment, not a backpack. Only a few have learned to make lightweight backpacks by building them like running vests. That’s how Mammut thought in designing the Trion Nordwand 15. The pack is for fast-and-light alpine climbing and features quick access to contents and a close fit. Many of its features came from Mammut’s pro athletes, including Nico Hojac and Stephan Siegrist.

Yeti Trailhead Camp Chair


Price: $300
Release Date: Spring 2020
Where Yeti’s first chair was an indestructible heavyweight, its second, the Trailhead, is efficiently portable. That’s not to say that it isn’t as extremely sturdy though; its arms and back tensioners lock into place, and its feet are extra wide so they won’t poke into the ground. It also uses the same comfy yet robust (it can hold up to 500 pounds) fabric. All of this adds up to the burliest chair at the beach/campsite/Fourth of July party/etc.

Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX


Price: $170
Release Date: August 2020
There are pieces in Salomon’s footwear collection that have earned cult followings. Hikers love its X Ultra Mid 3 GTX; trail runners love the Speedcross. (Apparently, even fashionistas love one of Salomon’s trail runners, the S/Lab ST-6). We expect the company’s newest hiking boot, the Cross Hike Mid GTX, to get similar attention. It pulls the aesthetic and grippy lugs from the Speedcross into a Gore-Tex-equipped hiking boot that can go anywhere.

Vasque Breeze Winter Terrain GTX


Price: $200
Release Date: Fall 2020
We’ve been big fans of Vasque’s lightweight Breeze hiking boot, which is why we’re particularly excited that soon there will be a winterized version in the Breeze Winter Terrain GTX. The new boot packs plenty of insulation for warmth, as well as a waterproof Gore-Tex liner, but keeps its trim form.

Bivy Stick 2.0


Price: TBA
Release Date: April 2020
When Gear Patrol reviewed Bivy Stick’s first off-grid messenger, both its ease of use and affordability impressed. One of our few complaints was that it didn’t have a dedicated SOS button on the device — in Bivy Stick 2.0, that issue is amended. The updated 95-gram messenger also has a button for sending pre-written check-in messages and location info, making communication from the backcountry a cinch.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

Get Comfy AF With These Awesome New Layering Pieces

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Outerwear may garner more attention, but the layers beneath are just as critical to keeping you warm and dry in adventurous situations. Thankfully, brands just keep making them better and better. Here are our favorites from the OR Snow Show floor.  

Patagonia R1 Air Full Zip Hoody

Price: $159
Release Date: Fall 2020
Patagonia is pretty much the gold standard in outdoor wear, and this new iteration of its best technical fleece, 20 years in the making, is no exception. Made of 100 percent recycled Hollow Core yarns and featuring unique zig-zag patterning, this garment is somehow breathable and warm, yet wicks sweat and sheds heat to accommodate heavy exertion. 

Houdini Mono Air Houdi

Price: $200
Release Date: Fall 2020
Thanks to Polartec Power Air — an ultra-efficient microfiber insulation system — the Houdi’s fabric creates five times less microplastic pollution than regular fleece. It’s also made of 73 percent recycled fibers and can be recycled again, so it’s about as Earth-friendly as they come. 

Seirus Heatwave Base Layers

Price: $90+
Release Date: Fall 2020
There’s a reason this layer looks futuristic: it is. Thanks to modern construction and strategic bodymapping, the new Seirus tops and bottoms are anti-chafing, anti-microbial and engineered to keep the warmth coming in and the sweat moving out. 

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Ultralight

Price: $475
Release Date: August 2020
Thanks to excellent insulation, ripstop fabric, a DWR finish and packability, MH’s Ghost Whisperer was already a huge hit. Now, thanks to rare, high-quality 1000-fill RDS-certified down, the brand introduces a version that’s 9% lighter (6.67 ounces vs. 7.4 ounces) yet still crazy warm.

The North Face Summit L5 FutureLight Ventrix Jacket

Price: $550
Release Date: Fall 2020
Combining the best of TNF’s proprietary tech, this jacket features a super-breathable Ventrix stretch synthetic insulation mid-layer and a truly waterproof-breathable FutureLight 3L shell. The fusion ensures you’ll stay warm and dry, even during heavy exertion.

Marmot WarmCube Featherless Hoody

Price: $400
Release Date: Fall 2020
Marmot has transported its innovative 3D WarmCube tech — which prevents down fill from sliding around and traps heat in surrounding air channels for optimal warmth — into a lightweight hoodie that’s insanely warm. It’s a great layer when it’s super cold but totally stands on its own when it’s merely pretty cold. 

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

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

More by Steve Mazzucchi | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

10 Products That Will Make Skiing Awesome in 2021

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Skiing isn’t the foundation of the winter sports scene, it’s the bedrock. It only makes sense then, that skis, and the gear associated with skiing, are a primary focus of the biggest outdoor industry trade show in North America. Ski gear has come a long way in the past decade — no, nobody says “parabolics” anymore — but gear makers still find ways to push the sport further each season. Here are some of the latest examples.

Line Blade

Price: $900
Release Date: Fall 2020
So many skis these days try to give you everything you could ever want; lightness and power, float and edge control. Some do an excellent job of it, but we’re just as impressed by a ski that knows its place and owns it. Like the Blade, which Line made with one thing in mind — carving. After all, not all days are deep.

Marker Duke PT Binding

Price: $725+
Release Date: Fall 2020
Salomon proved that skiers no longer have to decide between uphill and downhill capabilities when it introduced the Shift binding, and it was only a matter of time before Marker followed suit. The Duke PT is by no means a copy though — its unique construction uses a toepiece that’s removable to keep weight down on the uphill. When it’s time to descend, lock it back in for full security.

Black Diamond Cirque 22 Vest

Price: $160
Release Date: Fall 2020
Black Diamond calls the Cirque 22 a vest, but you should think of it as a backpack. We’re not saying that it’s misnamed, just that it packs more utility than you might believe otherwise: it can carry skis, climbing skins (in a separate compartment), a helmet, avalanche safety tools and more.

Faction Agent 3.0 & 4.0

Price: $849, $899
Release Date: Fall 2020
Faction’s ski touring-focused Agent collection claims the best strength-to-weight ratio of any ski Faction makes (and it’s won awards that back the claim). For Winter 20/21, Faction is expanding the line with the wider 3.0 and 4.0, which have waist widths of 106mm and 116mm, respectively. That’s excellent news for those of us who like deep snow and don’t mind walking to get to it.

Sweet Protection Looper MIPS

Price: $159
Release Date: Fall 2020
When World Cup skiers top speeds of 75 miles per hour, they do so with an enormous amount of trust in their helmets. Sweet Protection has inspiring such faith for a decade and a half, and it’s latest helmet adapts racing tech for more casual skiers and snowboarders. The Looper MIPS has a shell with varying zones of elasticity and rigidity to provide protection without excess bulk and comes with a MIPS liner.

Dalbello Quantum Series

Price: Quantum Asolo Factory Boot $950
Release Date: Fall 2020
As with skis, today’s skiers want one pair of boots that can go everywhere. Dalbello has provided that with the resort- and backcountry-capable Lupo for years, but it’s never produced a touring-specific model until now. To create the Quantum Series, Dalbello is using an infrared welding process to bond two pieces of the shell, allowing for varying contours and a better overall fit. That, coupled with a lacing system that includes Dyneema and the ability for custom fit work, makes for a backcountry boot that’s lightweight, powerful and comfy.

POC Cornea Solar Switch

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
The latest goggle technology allows skiers and snowboarders to ditch spare lenses entirely — when conditions change, they can adjust the tint with the push of a button, thanks to electrochromism. The best of them still use batteries and buttons, though, but not POC’s Cornea Solar Switch. The new goggle adapts to light conditions instantly and automatically and draws all the energy it needs to do so right from the sun.

Black Crows Justis

Price: $960
Release Date: Fall 2020
The Justis bridges the gap between two Black Crows all-mountain favorites. Where the Navis has a traditional rocker profile and the Daemon full reverse camber, the Justis makes do with early rise in both the tip and tail. Black Crows sandwiched a double titanal plate into its layup for power and, with a 100mm waist, created a ski that can pretty much go anywhere.

RMU Outdoors Ski Pack

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
RMU started out making skis, but it proved itself to be a formidable power in the bag world when it introduced the travel-oriented Core Pack and BRFCS. We’re excited to see expertise from both realms combined into one product that brings tons of features — a helmet sling, rear zipper entry and dedicated avalanche tool organization, to name a few — to one slim, chairlift-friendly profile.

Rab Khroma Tour Infinium

Price: $100
Release Date: Fall 2020
Go to any ski resort, and you’re bound to see the locals eschewing dedicated ski gloves for a pair of leather Kinco’s, likely purchased at the hardware store or gas station for $20. Rab’s new Khroma Tour Infinium glove gets at the same idea — it has nimble leather fingers — but upgrades it with a Gore-Tex Infinium back and cuff. It is more expensive, but it’ll also last longer than a season and stay warm on cold days.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

9 Products That Will Make Skiing Awesome in 2021

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Skiing isn’t the foundation of the winter sports scene, it’s the bedrock. It only makes sense then, that skis, and the gear associated with skiing, are a primary focus of the biggest outdoor industry trade show in North America. Ski gear has come a long way in the past decade — no, nobody says “parabolics” anymore — but gear makers still find ways to push the sport further each season. Here are some of the latest examples.

Line Blade

Price: $900
Release Date: Fall 2020
So many skis these days try to give you everything you could ever want; lightness and power, float and edge control. Some do an excellent job of it, but we’re just as impressed by a ski that knows its place and owns it. Like the Blade, which Line made with one thing in mind — carving. After all, not all days are deep.

Marker Duke PT Binding

Price: $725+
Release Date: Fall 2020
Salomon proved that skiers no longer have to decide between uphill and downhill capabilities when it introduced the Shift binding, and it was only a matter of time before Marker followed suit. The Duke PT is by no means a copy though — its unique construction uses a toepiece that’s removable to keep weight down on the uphill. When it’s time to descend, lock it back in for full security.

Black Diamond Cirque 22 Vest

Price: $160
Release Date: Fall 2020
Black Diamond calls the Cirque 22 a vest, but you should think of it as a backpack. We’re not saying that it’s misnamed, just that it packs more utility than you might believe otherwise: it can carry skis, climbing skins (in a separate compartment), a helmet, avalanche safety tools and more.

Faction Agent 3.0 & 4.0

Price: $849, $899
Release Date: Fall 2020
Faction’s ski touring-focused Agent collection claims the best strength-to-weight ratio of any ski Faction makes (and it’s won awards that back the claim). For Winter 20/21, Faction is expanding the line with the wider 3.0 and 4.0, which have waist widths of 106mm and 116mm, respectively. That’s excellent news for those of us who like deep snow and don’t mind walking to get to it.

Sweet Protection Looper MIPS

Price: $159
Release Date: Fall 2020
When World Cup skiers top speeds of 75 miles per hour, they do so with an enormous amount of trust in their helmets. Sweet Protection has inspiring such faith for a decade and a half, and it’s latest helmet adapts racing tech for more casual skiers and snowboarders. The Looper MIPS has a shell with varying zones of elasticity and rigidity to provide protection without excess bulk and comes with a MIPS liner.

Dalbello Quantum Series

Price: Quantum Asolo Factory Boot $950
Release Date: Fall 2020
As with skis, today’s skiers want one pair of boots that can go everywhere. Dalbello has provided that with the resort- and backcountry-capable Lupo for years, but it’s never produced a touring-specific model until now. To create the Quantum Series, Dalbello is using an infrared welding process to bond two pieces of the shell, allowing for varying contours and a better overall fit. That, coupled with a lacing system that includes Dyneema and the ability for custom fit work, makes for a backcountry boot that’s lightweight, powerful and comfy.

POC Cornea Solar Switch

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
The latest goggle technology allows skiers and snowboarders to ditch spare lenses entirely — when conditions change, they can adjust the tint with the push of a button, thanks to electrochromism. The best of them still use batteries and buttons, though, but not POC’s Cornea Solar Switch. The new goggle adapts to light conditions instantly and automatically and draws all the energy it needs to do so right from the sun.

Black Crows Justis

Price: $960
Release Date: Fall 2020
The Justis bridges the gap between two Black Crows all-mountain favorites. Where the Navis has a traditional rocker profile and the Daemon full reverse camber, the Justis makes do with early rise in both the tip and tail. Black Crows sandwiched a double titanal plate into its layup for power and, with a 100mm waist, created a ski that can pretty much go anywhere.

RMU Outdoors Ski Pack

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
RMU started out making skis, but it proved itself to be a formidable power in the bag world when it introduced the travel-oriented Core Pack and BRFCS. We’re excited to see expertise from both realms combined into one product that brings tons of features — a helmet sling, rear zipper entry and dedicated avalanche tool organization, to name a few — to one slim, chairlift-friendly profile.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

5 of the Best Jackets Coming Out This Year

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Every year, outdoor gear companies reveal tech-laden marvels that make spending time outside in the blistering cold not just tolerable, but enjoyable. Solar-adaptive goggles. Magnetic heated gloves. And yet, it’s still that ubiquitous staple, the humble jacket, that always draws our attention. That’s not to say that outer layers won’t see their fair share of innovation and updates in the coming year. Here are the ones that we’re most excited to zip on next winter (no batteries necessary).

Filson Alcan Quilted Jacket

Price: $450
Release Date: July 2020
Filson’s reputation for ruggedness is well-known; it embeds practical durability into every one of its products, from canvas work jackets to waterproof haul bags. That characteristic extends to the Alcan Collection, Filson’s first moto-specific line of clothing. Alcan includes leather gloves and double-front pants, but we’re particularly excited about the quilted jacket, which has a canvas shell reinforced with ballistic nylon and PrimaLoft Gold insulation for additional warmth.

Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket

Price: $750
Release Date: Fall 2020
Helly Hansen’s Elevation Infinity Shell comes with a long fit, an integrated (removable) balaclava and a pocket that keeps your phone warm with NASA-created insulation. Still, its most interesting feature is much less visible. It’s called LIFA Infinity Pro, and it’s an impressive new waterproof and breathable membrane that Helly developed first for base layers and insulation.

Fjällräven Vidda Pro Wool Padded Jacket

Price: $400
Release Date: Fall 2020
Again, the coolest thing about Fjällräven’s new jacket isn’t immediately visible. The Vidda Pro has been one of the Swedish brand’s trekking go-tos for seasons thanks to its durable G-1000 shell. Fjällräven added a layer of unique insulation to this cold-weather update. It’s made of a blend of recovered wool and biodegradable cornstarch fiber, a combination that the company says resists long-term compression better than typical insulation.

Picture Demain

Price: $500
Release Date: Fall 2020
Another jacket, another invisible upgrade. Picture has aimed for eco-consciousness from the get-go, and the Demain is the best representation of that mission yet. The three-layer shell includes polyester made of sugar and a PFC-free waterproof membrane. Picture didn’t skimp on style, either.

Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Anorak

Price: $799
Release Date: September 2020
Gore-Tex recently revealed its rejiggered Pro fabric tech, which comes in three separate variations that highlight stretch, durability and breathability. Norrona harnessed the latter version to make the forthcoming Lofoten Anorak. The jacket is lightweight, even with its extended cut and roomy fit, and it features underarm vents and a central zipper long enough to permit access to your layers underneath.

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

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

The Best Things We’ve Seen at OR Snow Show So Far

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Here’s a running list of all the coolest stuff we are seeing at the 2020 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show. Check back for updates, we’re here all week.

The North Face Summit L5 FutureLight Ventrix Jacket


Price: $550
Release Date: Fall 2020
TNF’s proprietary FutureLight material is some of the best waterproof-breathable fabric we’ve come across yet. Here, the brand combines with a Ventrix stretch synthetic insulation midlayer to keep heat in and moisture out.

Jones Stratos Snowboard


Price: $579
Release Date: Available now at select Jones dealers worldwide.
The brand founded by big mountain icon Jeremy Jones successfully shoots the gap with this new hybrid board featuring a directional freeride shape and freestyle spirit. Coolest feature? Float Pack inserts, which allow the rider to assume a setback stance when things get steep and deep.

Marmot WarmCube Featherless Hoody


Price: $400
Release Date: Fall 2020
Marmot’s innovative 3D WarmCube tech uses a bunch of cubes to not only keep down fill in place but trap heat in the surrounding air channels to maximize insulation. Now they’ve migrated that tech from a parka to a lightweight hoodie.

Zeal Optics Beacon Goggle


Price: $129+
Release Date: Winter 2021
With a profile inspired by the physics behind air control towers, the Beacon boasts a 10-degree slant to its lens. The aim is to open up the wearers’ vertical peripheral vision, allowing them to better spot their lines upon descent.

ThirtyTwo Jones MTB Snowboard Boot


Price: $600
Release Date: Available now
This updated collaboration with Jeremy Jones (there he is again) is dedicated to making the splitboard journey up a mountain easier. The walk-mode collar expands to permit longer strides as you climb, while the full-zip gaiter provides unmatched protection off the beaten path.

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