All posts in “Sports and Outdoors”

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.

We Can’t Wait to Try Out This New Snowboard Gear

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: Winter 2021
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: Winter 2021
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: Winter 2021
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: $600
Release Date: Available now
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: Winter 2021
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

This EDC Folder Demonstrates One of 2020’s Biggest Knife Trends

If last week’s Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade convention revealed anything about current trends, it’s that 2020 is the year of the slipjoint knife. Slipjoints are the most basic type of folding pocket knife – they’re constructed with a spring that keeps the blade either open or closed and no lock — and almost certainly the most common. Lately, knifemakers big and small are turning back to the old-timey format; WESN is the latest to do so with its new blade, the Henry.

WESN’s catalog is modest and decidedly focused on everyday carry. Its first knife was the Ti Microblade, a keychain-appropriate tool not much larger than a USB drive. Its follow-up was familiar and noticeably larger. But the Henry, WESN’s third knife, stands apart. Its the brand’s first knife to feature wood — cherry inlays in a titanium frame — and its first slipjoint.

Billy Chester, WESN’s founder, drew inspiration from an antique knife he encountered at a Swedish flea market during a recent trip. As an homage to that implement, the Henry uses Swedish-made Sandvik 14C28N blade steel, a type that balances corrosion resistance, wear resistance and strength.

The Henry is currently available on Kickstarter, starting at $65.

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 Tent Is for People Who Don’t Like Camping

Gear Patrol Studios

Gear Patrol Studios is the creative partnership arm of Gear Patrol. Select advertising has been crafted on behalf of brands to help tailor their message for readers. These sections are demarcated with sponsored flags. Learn More

Affiliate Disclosure

Gear Patrol participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites including the Gear Patrol Store. Learn More

This New Pocket Knife Is the First of Its Kind

If you’ve watched any of Discovery Channel’s many survival shows, then you know the value of a simple piece of cord. You can use it to build a shelter, make a trap or construct an elaborate water filtration system. It’s no wonder, then, that knife companies make survival-oriented blades with paracord-wrapped handles: think Gerber’s fixed-blade collaboration with Bear Grylls. Pretty much all paracord knives use the fixed-blade design, but in its first batch of 2020 knives, CRKT revealed a folding paracord model called the Parascale.

There are plenty of reasons why we haven’t seen a paracord folder before. Folding knives require mechanisms to pivot and lock, which get in the way of a skeletonized handle design. The blade also needs an open channel to fold into, which can’t be blocked by loops of cord.

Designer TJ Schwarz found a solution in CRKT’s simple Deadbolt lock and a weave pattern that has the cord zig-zagging back and forth across the back of a handle with carved channels. The result is a unique folder with a 3.2-inch drop-point blade and roughly four feet of cord that’ll come in handy should you find yourself in a horrendous, Naked and Afraid-style predicament. Or, you know, if your bootlace breaks on a hiking trip.

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

7 New 2020 Pocket Knives You Should Know

This week, some 50,000-plus people traveled to Las Vegas, not to hit the slots or attempt to relive their favorite moments from The Hangover but to attend SHOT Show. SHOT is the largest annual trade show for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry (SHOT stands for “Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade”). But the convention isn’t solely about guns and ammo; it’s also where many knifemakers provide a first glimpse of the blades they’re planning to release over the coming year. SHOT isn’t open to the public, so here’s an inside look at seven of the best 2020 knives from the show.

Benchmade Tengu Flipper

Typically, one of designer Jared Oeser’s custom knives can go for $2,000 or more. But for 2020, Benchmade worked with him to create a production version of his Tengu design. It sports his trademark handle inlay and will only cost $220 when it comes out in March.

Gerber Doubledown

Among Gerber’s lineup for the year is something unique: a folding machete. The Doubledown’s handles swivel open like a butterfly knife to sheath its 6.75-inch blade when not in use.

SOG Ultra XR

SOG used the Ultra XR’s predecessor, the Terminus XR, to debut its sturdy and straightforward XR lock. The Ultra uses that mechanism, but comes in a smaller size than the Terminus and boasts an ultralight carbon fiber handle and S35VN blade steel.

Spyderco Chaparral Sun & Moon

The Sun and Moon versions of Spyderco’s well-known Chaparral are all about the handles. One version has white G-10 scales with a circular red G-10 inlay while the other sports black G-10 with a mother-of-pearl inlay. Both have 2.8-inch blades and a lockback design.

Kershaw Hub

Designed by Jens Anso, the Hub is another welcome entry into Kershaw’s collection of miniature EDC knives. This one is small enough to travel on a keychain — with an oversized lanyard loop to accommodate that carry style — and has a 1.7-inch blade.

Kershaw Brandywine

Kershaw also revealed a small collection of old-school lockbacks to contrast with its typically contemporary collection. The Brandywine shines among the new group with three blades: a clip point, spey and Wharncliffe.

Fox Knives Nauta

Another slip joint reveal came from Fox Knives. The Italian company has a history of winning innovation awards, so it’s notable to see it drawing inspiration from the past instead of the future. The Nauta’s lineage traces back to a seaman’s knife that Fox supplied to the German Navy years ago.

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 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

What You Need to Know About the New Breed of Base Layer

A few years ago, I found myself in Chamonix, France. Situated in the valley beneath the famed Mont Blanc Massif, the little town is a European Mecca of sorts that draws skiers, mountain climbers and trail runners to abandon their regular lives in search of scenic thrills. The town hosted the first-ever Winter Olympics in 1924. Pierce Brosnan as James Bond skied out of a helicopter and blew up paragliding snowmobile henchmen there too. I came to witness the Marathon du Mont Blanc and do a bit of ridge running myself, but one of the more memorable moments of the trip occurred in a stark warehouse space in the larger nearby town of Annecy.

It was there, in Salomon’s design facility, that I watched a pair of robots named Bea and Maurice weave the upper of a custom running shoe in under five minutes. Watching the arms of the robot spin, rotate and flex as a shoe materialized before my eyes, I immediately understood how 3D knit fabrics earned their name. We’re used to seeing them under a blanket of branding — Nike has Flyknit, Adidas has Primeknit — but it’s all more or less the same.

Now, however, the innovative manufacturing process is making its way into outdoor clothing, starting (appropriately) with the base layer. Today, Smartwool, Patagonia and Holden all make some version of a 3D-knit base layer. Their reasons for doing so are more or less the same as the shoe companies: a 3D-knit garment creates close to zero production waste, is less labor-intensive to produce, and, most importantly, with no seams, it’s more comfortable.

Smartwool Intraknit

Of course, Smartwool couldn’t stay out of this game for long. Its version of 3D-knit base layers is called Intraknit, and it might be the most complex of the lot. Smartwool has harnessed the tech to create garments with highly specific zones of varying stretch and breathability. For instance, the front and back of the Intraknit bottom’s knee use their own unique weaves, and both of those zones are different from the rest of the leg.

Smartwool also stands apart in using Intraknit to create a full collection of tops and bottoms in different weights, as you might find in traditional base layer collections. Despite the innovation in Intraknit, seams are still present in these garments and seemed particularly noticeable compared to the company’s mainstay base layers. Right now, there are only mid- and heavyweight tops and bottoms, but we’re guessing that it won’t be long before a lightweight version pops up too.

Pros: Clean, sweater-like look; mid- and heavyweight options.
Cons: Still uses seams.
Specs: Intraknit 200: 53% merino wool, 45% polyester, 2% elastane
Intraknit 250 Thermal: 100% merino wool

Patagonia Capilene Air

Unsurprisingly, Patagonia was first out of the gate with a 3D knit base layer. The company claims to have introduced the outdoor community to the concept of layering in the 1980s, and it released Capilene Air in 2018. Like the others on this list, the fabric is a merino-polyester blend but is different thanks to what Patagonia calls an “exploded” yarn knit.

Translation: Capilene Air is insanely soft and remarkably versatile. We’ve worn it skiing on frigid single-digit days as well as late April afternoons in the mid-fifties. The one downside we noticed after a single season of use is that the fabric pilled quickly, but we haven’t experienced a full-on tear yet. It also likes to pick up stray fibers, like pet hair. Overall, it’s the most comfortable and versatile of the bunch.

Pros: Most comfortable; surprisingly warm, and versatile, given how lightweight it is.
Cons: Some pilling after a single season of use hints at possible durability issues; fuzzy fabric loves to pick up lint (and dog hair).
Specs: 51% merino wool, 49% recycled polyester

Holden Whole Garment

Holden is known for an edge of style — it makes a shoe crossed with a puffy jacket, for example — and its 3D knit base layer is no exception. You could probably get away with wearing the hooded top on its own in settings far from the ski lodge, but that’s not to say that it isn’t highly technical.

The Whole Garment Balaclava has three different knit zones that provide varying levels of warmth, breathability and stretch. The thickest of them cover the core and arms. Meanwhile, the underarms, spine and throat use more of a mesh-like weave that promotes breathability. It’s impressively versatile and serves as a high-level example of how garments can take a unique shape thanks to 3D knit tech. Holden only uses Whole Garment in a top, for now.

Pros: Varying thickness zones for targeted breathability.
Cons: Only available as a hooded top; expensive.
Specs: 51% merino wool, 49% recycled polyester
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 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 Is 2020’s Most Innovative Outdoor Gear, According to Experts

Gear Patrol Studios

Gear Patrol Studios is the creative partnership arm of Gear Patrol. Select advertising has been crafted on behalf of brands to help tailor their message for readers. These sections are demarcated with sponsored flags. Learn More

Affiliate Disclosure

Gear Patrol participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites including the Gear Patrol Store. Learn More

Peloton vs. Wahoo: Which Makes the Best Stationary Bike?

Spinning at home is the new hot yoga, or maybe the slightly updated SoulCycle. Or perhaps it’s already jumped the shark — if you ask Wall Street analysts, who have been hedging market darling Peloton, the titan of the spin-on-your-schedule space. Motley Fool’s Abi Malin says Peloton’s a $9 billion company, but “We’re in peak hype.”

Do you care? If you’re not looking to invest in the sector, you probably wonder more about whether a $2,245 Peloton bike or the recently released $3,500 Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike, are worth the expense. Mind you, both brands bake in financing that knocks monthly payments down to a more reasonable $50-$70 a month, but Wahoo made its name in part by creating a new kind of trainer called the KICKR, the best of which sell at a more approachable $900-$1,200.

The catch? You have to attach your own bike to them since these are essentially powered drivetrains with resistance that stand in for the rear wheel of your road-, gravel- or mountain bike. They work incredibly well, but if you don’t have an extra bike to leave on the trainer, the rear-wheel-removal-to-trainer swap process isn’t altogether seamless.

Would you be better off with a standalone trainer instead? And which of these is best?

Peloton Bike Overview

We’ll get to that, but just understand Peloton’s responding to a broader trend, which is training at home, not in the gym. Note that we didn’t say “riding” at home. Peloton’s notion is that you are not, strictly speaking, a cyclist. It may look like a spin bike, but Peloton wants you to think of the machine as a gateway to “gym-less membership,” which includes live and recorded running, yoga, strength, meditation, stretching, boot camp, walking and cardio classes. There’s even Amazon Fire TV integration, so you can seamlessly launch these workouts on your TV, plus Apple Watch pairing that guides you through exercise while using the Watch’s heart rate monitor for accurate calorie prediction.

Peloton also thinks you care, deeply, about which music you work out to. So beyond live/recorded classes with ebullient coaches (who are also unfailingly beautiful people), you can also see the soundtrack for any class you might sign up for.

Got all that? Peloton claims to have 1.6 million total subscribers, with 563,000 of them paying $39/month. (The greater number includes people without a bike or treadmill, paying $12.99/month to use the standalone workout app.)

We should note that the $2,245 price tag for the bike and its large, 21.5-inch tablet-like screen attached to the front of it, wouldn’t be very useful without that $39 monthly subscription, because the tablet can only interface with Peloton classes.

Key Specs
Weight: 135 lbs
Footprint: approximately 4′ by 2′
Resistance: magnetic
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ant+ and Bluetooth

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Bike Overview

On the other hand, Wahoo’s trainer works seamlessly (meaning, it can simulate terrain maps and resistance loads) with six competing subscription workout services like Zwift, for example. Depending on your budget and appetite for workout variety, these are as affordable as $15 a month. On top of those are dozens more apps that it integrates with as well, too, from training-specific ones to fitness tracking ones. So the Wahoo is more expensive out of the gate but also plays with third-party products that, in the long run, will make ownership less expensive.

Still, this shootout is less about which is better, than which one of these ecosystems is right for you. To figure that out, we sweated, a lot, through multiple aspects of use.

Key Specs
Weight: 92 lbs.
Footprint: approximately 4′ by 2’7″
Resistance: electromagnetic motor
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ant+ and Bluetooth

Test 1: Setup

Both the Peloton and Wahoo are heavy. The Wahoo, at 92 pounds, is lighter than the truly burly 135-pound Peloton. This matters for a few reasons. Peloton takes care of the install process: A team arrives in a Peloton van, hauls the bike to whatever room in the house where you want it to live, helps you pair it to Wi-Fi, and walks you through all the instructions for setup.

Wahoo ships you a bike mostly assembled, but all they guarantee is that the delivery will be by two people who can put the box in the room where you’ll want it. Setting it up isn’t difficult, though.

If you don’t even want to turn a few screws, Peloton gets the win here for ease of installation. Once in place, though, the lighter Wahoo is more manageable for one person to relocate (both bikes have small inline-skate style wheels to make repositioning less cumbersome).

Test 2: Bike Fit

Each bike fits a range of different-sized humans (Peloton claims from 4’11″–6’5″ while Wahoo claims 5’–6’4″), but getting fit isn’t that hard for either bike. You adjust the fore and aft as well as up and down positioning on both the saddle and handlebars. But what about setting up multiple users?

In the case that you’re moving the locking levers frequently, the Wahoo’s friction closures that are extra burly; once shut, the bike feels rock-solid if you’re standing and pounding the pedals. The same goes for the Peloton. However, the closures themselves are less hand-friendly and require a bit more leverage to get them to bite down so that the bike feels unified during a workout.

A more significant concern is getting the right feeling of leverage over the pedals. Now, to be completely clear, unless you’re riding a unicycle, you don’t want to stand directly above the pedals on any bike. We all have different femur lengths, and that means we ideally sit comfortably behind the cranks, but not so far back that our legs are levered out, which can cause significant knee strain.

On the Wahoo, it was easy to emulate a leverage position similar to my outdoor road bike, mainly because the bike allows five different crank arm positions of the pedals, from 165mm to 175mm. The Peloton defaults to 170mm cranks. I could get the same fit, but at 5′ 6″, I didn’t have a whole lot more forward position to play with. A shorter rider might struggle to emulate their outdoor position perfectly.

Test 3: Working Out

The Wahoo, as we said, pairs with several different apps. You can use apps like Sufferfest, Zwift, Trainer Road, Ful Gaz, and Rouvy. In general, these provide overlapping experiences using filmed sequences over actual roads or simulations (think: video game) where you appear as a riding avatar in a virtual world.

The latter is what you get with Zwift ($15/month), which is the simulator I used to test the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike, in part because it has pre-packaged workouts that use your weight, among a few other factors, to normalize resistance. The Smart Bike interfaces with Zwift and other apps to measure your watts-per-kilogram output. That’s important because it means it can automatically equalize the resistance level for multiple different riders who might use the bike in the same household. Sign in with two different avatars, and the bike/app interface ramps resistance accordingly, so when you and your spouse ride the same virtual hill, the effort required differs by weight.

Watts-per-kilo is the best measure of performance outdoors, especially over hilly terrain, which is much of the paved and unpaved planet. Pit two riders against each other who weigh, respectively, 150 pounds and 200 pounds and both produce 3.2 watts per kilo and on a hilly course and they’ll likely be pretty evenly matched — the lighter rider will probably climb hills faster while the heavier rider will likely be able to mash flats. That matters to a cyclist then, because Zwift and other apps let you work on training programs that try to help you increase your watts-per-kilo output. Translation: That equals speed, which, even if you’re not a racer, still probably matters to most cyclists.

The experience of using the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike integrated with Zwift on programmed training like this resulted in seamless ramping and backing off of resistance: The pedaling gets harder or easier automatically and in sync with the terrain and interval training. Like magic.

The Peloton workout is a whole different animal.

You view your instructor shot from different angles alongside a live (or recorded) class of other riders in a gym. The music pumps, the instructor eggs the group on. It’s all about getting you stoked to be there! And, yes, it’s infectious, even from a living room.

Is it a good workout? Hell yes. I’m a seasoned, reasonably fit cyclist (for January in the Northeast), and I was definitely as fried by Peloton’s shred as by Wahoo’s.

However, some aspects of the Peloton philosophy are problematic for a cyclist’s training mindset.

First, your workload isn’t broken out by watts per kilo; all watts, whether you’re 300 pounds or 100 pounds, are treated the same. And that’s a problem if you’re competitive because there’s a live leaderboard that takes into account kilojoules (a joule is one watt in one second), cadence and resistance.

This part’s tricky because cadence has nothing to do with output in the real world. You might be most comfortable spinning at 90 RPM and I might feel better at 75 RPM, but if we cover the same ground in the same amount of time, we tie. So baking in cadence to the class leaderboard is a contrivance meant to get you in sync with Peloton’s zeitgeist.

That is, you’re here to sweat, and during classes, one way to get you working hard quickly is to ramp cadence to, say, above 110 RPM. That’s hard, and that’s the point, even if, in reality, no cycling coach would want you spinning that fast because the entire goal is to get the most force from your legs without over-taxing your cardio system.
(Somewhere between 75–90 RPM is considered the ideal sweet spot.) Again, though, Peloton’s MO is broader than thinking of their bike as anything more than a fitness instrument; you could just as easily be doing pilates. The goal is to get you working out.

The other “gym” element is resistance, which isn’t automated.

The instructor exhorts you to crank a red knob on the bike’s downtube to a range she or he calls out. That range might be 41-52. And 41-52 is the same, again, regardless of rider weight. So 41 is logically going to feel harder for most 110-pound riders vs. someone who weighs 180 lbs., etc. Should you care? Maybe not. If you’re just here to work out, turn off the leaderboard (which you can do) and dance on the pedals to the tunes.

Finally, one aspect of training on the Peloton is frankly, silly: There’s no pause button. Say what? If you’re in a live class, that’s fine. The instructor can’t pause so you can let the dog out, obviously. But for recorded classes this is nuts. Life happens. During one recorded class, FedEx showed up and needed my signature. Then I got an urgent phone call. I was 15 minutes into a 30-minute workout, and had to abort the whole thing and start over. How is that logical? Any fitness watch lets you pause an exercise to stretch your hamstrings. The same goes if you’re using one of a million apps for yoga or kickboxing or anything else. A pause button is a given. The fact that Peloton hasn’t responded to lots of requests and complaints to add this function is just goofy.

Test 4: Bike Experience

The Peloton, which uses magnets to add resistance, is considerably quieter than the KICKR with its resistance motor. That’s not to say that Wahoo’s KICKR is a roaring machine, but if you need a bike that you can use at home at 5 am without waking up your partner, it’s worth mentioning.

On the topic of sound, it’s nice that you can pair Bluetooth headphones to the Peloton to hear the class without annoying anyone else at home. You can also seamlessly sync a heart rate monitor to the bike this way, as you can with the KICKR.

Wahoo’s bike wins a few of its own finer points, though. You can shift gears on it like a real outdoor bike, simulating real-world gear changes that let you spin or mash at a more natural cadence.

Also, because it features a road bike-style seat clamp, it’s easier to adjust the saddle angle than on the Peloton and comes with a better quality saddle, plus genuine road handlebars. (These can be swapped too, so you can ride with the same bars indoors and out.) The Peloton’s screen gets in the way of that particular modularity.

Test 5: Design

Both bikes are aesthetically blah. Neither looks awful, but neither achieves sculptural greatness, either.

Why bust on design? These machines are expensive! And they’re going to take up space in your home. A truly great product should be gorgeous and perform. There’s zero reason stationary bike makers cannot achieve this and the fact that neither brand has thought that hard on as much beyond their logos seems like a missed opportunity.

Verdict: The Wahoo is undoubtedly the more cyclist-focused machine. With its shiftable drivetrain to the adjustable crank size that accommodates more femur lengths, to the swappable drop handlebars (you can even change the tape on them), it successfully emulates the outdoor riding experience. And of course, the Wahoo interfaces with multiple apps, too.

By contrast, Peloton is better for the general fitness junkie, especially those with no desire to ride outside. There’s zero doubt that Peloton’s classes are more fun (and plenty rigorous). Everyone I talked to about the Peloton experience told some version of the same story: “I was a skeptic and then tried it in the gym or at a friend’s house and then…” they were hooked. And jacked to work out. One friend even said riding it has become like binge-watching her favorite TV show — save that she never has to wait for the next season.

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Side-bySide Specs
Weight: 135-lbs. (Peloton); 92-lbs. (Wahoo)
Footprint: approximately 4′ by 2′ (Peloton); approximately 4′ by 2’7″(Wahoo)
Resistance: magnetic (Peloton); electromagnetic Motor (Wahoo)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ant+, and Bluetooth (both)

Peloton and Wahoo provided products for review.

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 Claims Its New Running Shoe Prevents Injuries, but Does It Work?

“No runner should get injured.” That’s the ultimate goal that Matt Nurse, vice president of Nike’s Sport Research Lab, calls the impetus behind the company’s newest running shoe, the React Infinity Run.

Nurse describes this vision as a “North Star,” and lofty it is indeed; various studies have reported the prevalence of running injuries among long-distance runners to range from 19 to 92 percent. If at best, nearly a fifth of runners experience some form of injury, then Nurse and the team at Nike have their work cut out for them.

As a starting place, Nike looked to two successful running shoes that it released in 2017. One was the Epic React, a crowd-pleaser that combined a lightweight knit upper with a new foam that’s lighter, more durable and more responsive than any the company had made previously. The other is the Zoom Vaporfly, a race-day shoe that pros have worn to set the five fastest marathon times ever. Eliud Kipchoge wore a prototype version rumored to come out this year to run the first sub-two-hour marathon in October 2019.

The React Infinity Run draws from both. It has 24 percent more of the light-yet-durable React foam of the Epic and, like the Vaporfly, uses an efficiency-improving rockered bottom. But it isn’t a pure blend; the React Infinity Run also has a broader and more stable base and an improved three-layer Flyknit mesh upper. Unlike those other shoes, it also has a reasonably rigid heel cup.

Nike claims that this combination of features and ingredients provides a stable platform without the tamped feeling that comes with many stability-oriented running shoes. But do they actually prevent injury? According to an external study that Nike commissioned through the British Columbia Sports Medicine Research Foundation, the answer is yes.

In the study, researchers tracked 226 runners as they trained for a half marathon over 12 weeks. Half of the group wore the React Infinity Run while the other half wore Nike’s Air Zoom Structure 22, which is more of a traditional stability shoe. The results found that while 30.3 percent of the Structure 22 runners experienced an injury (defined in the study as “missing three or more consecutive runs due to running related pain”), only 14.5 percent of those wearing the React Infinity Run were injured.

We should digest these results with a grain of salt as a Nike shoe was used as the control. But while many brands regularly unveil leg-saving shoes backed by research, Nike’s recent track record stands true. An exhaustive 2018 analysis of race results by The New York Times revealed that Nike’s Vaporfly 4% actually does make runners faster by roughly four percent, on average, and a 2019 follow-up of the subsequent Vaporfly Next% showed improvements over that.

Sneaker-driven injury prevention is not a new concept in the running world, where companies regularly give materials and features flashy names like Asics’s FluidFit (a reinforced mesh upper) or Brooks’s GuideRails (support features built into a running shoe’s sole). Many of these so-called technologies aim to address issues with pronation – how the foot rolls, bends and flexes when it strikes and lifts off the ground – and a shoe fitting at a specialty running store likely will entail a store clerk watching and filming you run on a treadmill to find out if you’re an over- or under-pronator.

Newer research-backed philosophies on shoe choice suggest that runners should focus less on fixing pronation issues and run in the shoes that they find most comfortable. Every runner has different physiology and runs with a different gait on different terrain, after all, so how can a single shoe or technology fix all of our separate and unique problems?

Interestingly enough, the React Infinity Run’s features don’t directly target such specific issues. Instead, it promises lightness, stability and “a smooth ride.”

Gear Patrol received early samples of the shoe, and a number of us have been wearing it regularly for roughly two months. By no means do we make up a meaningful sample size, but our running habits and shoe preferences differ enough to leave space for debate. While we all agree that the shoes are markedly comfortable out of the box – thanks to the snug Flyknit upper and not-too-soft React foam – one staffer reported that his biggest qualm with the shoe is “a lack of snugness around the heel cup. With thin socks, it almost feels like the shoe could come off, so I’ve resorted to thicker socks to make up the difference.”

I experienced a similar issue, so I crank the laces tight when running in them to compensate. At the same time, one tester praised the fit of the updated upper, noting that it holds her forefoot in place better than previous iterations.

It’s hard not to compare the React Infinity Run with other Nike models. Another tester says one of the shoe’s pros include better performance running in foul weather compared to the Epic React. And the shoe definitely does feel more stable compared to other Nike shoes that use Flyknit, without becoming overly stiff or clunky.

If our narrow range of experiences and opinions about the new shoe prove anything, it might be that in running shoes, there is no one size fits all.

So what about injury prevention? Well, none of us have experienced any twinges over the past months of testing. In fact, I began testing concurrently with renewed visits to a physical therapist to address knee pain (from cycling, not running), while a colleague dealt with a bout of plantar fasciitis.

“My arches were killing me,” she says. “I logged a handful of five-mile runs, and wore the shoes casually on weekends, and was soon back to normal. While I can’t say for sure what fixed me, these shoes didn’t hurt.”

Disclosure: One of the runners who tested the React Infinity Run is married to a Nike employee.

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 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.

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This $19 Espresso Maker Is Perfect for Bike Trips

We plan our trips. Sometimes to a T, one that’s often lower-case and situated firmly at the end of the word detriment. One of the greatest joys of travel is the unknown, and it’s through the impromptu — a chance meeting, a wrong turn — that a trip becomes an adventure. Martijn Doolaard agrees. He applies the philosophy to travels that extend beyond casual weekend trips too: between 2015 and 2016 Doolaard spent 365 days riding his bike from Amsterdam to Singapore, and he recently completed another ride from Vancouver to Patagonia that lasted more than two years.

One would think that this type of expedition would have a pre-scheduled route, but Doolaard likes to keep things open-ended. “I have a vague idea of a route,” he says. “There is so much coming your way on such a journey that it is hard to plan. I like to make decisions last minute.” Doolaard learned the practice during his first trip from Europe to Asia, which he planned to end in China but as he arrived at the Kyrgyzstan-China border decided to extend through India, and Southeast Asia down to Singapore.

Doolaard’s second big ride has already seen some equally-considerable itinerary changes. His original plan was actually to start in the Florida Keys and bike clockwise around the United States. “Quite last minute I made the call to fly to Vancouver. I was finishing some freelance jobs in Amsterdam and some other jobs I could do from Vancouver, so that’s how the idea grew to cycle from there,” says Doolaard. Extending the ride into the Southern Hemisphere seems just as spontaneous. “I had never visited Central or South America. Vancouver to Patagonia seemed like a logical straight line to do another big transcontinental journey.”

Equally crucial to Doolaard’s approach is going by bike. The primary reason for this? Bikes are slow. “While others would say that traveling faster would bring you to more destinations, I believed that in between two destinations are 20 more to explore,” he writes in One Year on a Bike, the photo-heavy chronicle of his first journey.

Riding a bike does come with more hardships than planes and buses (“Cycling uphill with a 50-kilogram bike will always be a big struggle,” he says) but Doolaard also notes inverse moments of zen: “There’s nothing better than starting a downhill with a heated body and letting the wind cool the sweat on your back. It’s a glorious feeling which you will never have in a car.”

Naturally, riding a bike thousands of miles through regions that are often remote means that Doolaard has to be self-sufficient for days on end, and that means carrying a lot of gear. The list includes clothing, toiletries, a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking equipment, a full kit of photography equipment and accessories as well as the small necessities like a spork, a notebook and a knife. Some items become more vital than others, and Doolaard let us know — from somewhere on the road between Costa Rica and Colombia — which things those are.

Learn more about Doolaard’s journey on his website and on Instagram.

Martijn Doolaard’s Packing List

iPhone 8

“I can’t imagine traveling without a smartphone. I use it to communicate and view maps every hour of the day. I use an iPhone 8, but any other smartphone will do the job. It’s more the specific apps that are important. I use Google Maps for maps, but also to check out reviews of hotels, restaurants, activities and sights.

For navigation I use Maps.me. It uses pre-downloaded maps, so it’s good for offline use. Most of the time I have internet via local sim cards, but cellular connectivity drains the battery of the phone so I like to shut the internet off as much as possible. MapOut is another that I use to check altitude in great detail. Then there are of course a number of social apps to stay connected with the world.”

Panasonic Lumix GH5

“Photography is an important part of my journey. It’s how I tell my story. I use a Panasonic Lumix GH5. It’s a professional lightweight camera with interchangeable lenses. I carry four lenses of different focal lengths. I like this camera because it’s great with video as well as stills, and the timelapse function comes in very handy to make selfies — I can put my camera on a tripod on a mountaintop and photograph myself cycling through a valley.”

Macbook Pro 15″ (Retina, 2012)

“My trusty Macbook has been shaken and stirred for about 30,000 kilometers of cycling around the globe and it still performs well. I use it to edit my photos, write stories, read about new places, prepare routes and alongside my iPhone, it’s my main tool to stay connected.”

Bialetti Moka Express 1-Cup Espresso Maker

“Consistently good coffee at any moment of the day — it keeps me going, whether I’m in a motel or camping somewhere.”

Surly ECR

“Obviously, the bicycle is the central piece that carries everything and it’s very important to have a bike that fits you properly. The Surly ECR is a steel frame, heavy-duty off-road bike. It’s built to resist and carefully tailored to fit all my gear. My camera is stored in the handlebar bag in front of me. I can take it out and shoot a picture while cycling.”

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 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.

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6 Alternative Jacket Insulations That Aren’t Down

You finally swapped out your winter clothes from your summer/fall clothes and pulled out your long lost ski jacket. After you look it over, you quickly realize it’s seen better days and that it’s for an upgrade. There are tons of jackets to choose from, but there’s an aspect that you’re likely overlooking: what do you want your jacket to be made of? This is a question that consumers need to answer now, either in person or online when they go shopping for a new winter jacket. For years, all you had to do was decide if you wanted a synthetic jacket or a down jacket, but now there are tons of other options, and many more decisions to make.

A handful of brands are now offering alternative insulation materials that range from sustainable to strange, and oftentimes offer different pros and cons than standard down and synthetic insulations. To help aid in your purchasing decision, we pulled together everything we know about the new fluff.

Llama Insulation

Cotopaxi is a brand that’s focused on doing good, so it’s logical that it would produce environmentally-friendly insulation. Its version is called Alti Insulation, and it’s made of llama wool. The material functions well as an insulator and offers many of the same traits that merino wool does. Cotopaxi sources wool from llamas farmed in the high plains of the Bolivian Andes — much the same way many brands source merino wool from sheep that live in the high elevations in New Zealand. It also helps that llama insulation is hypoallergenic, durable and maintains warmth when wet. It’s a 50-50 blend that separates coarse llama hair from fine hair, similar to de-hairing cashmere. You can see the final product in the Kusa Collection as jackets and blankets.

Bison Fiber

Like Cotopaxi, United by Blue is committed to sustainability and giving back to the community. For every product sold, one pound of trash is removed from the oceans and waterways around the world. The team is constantly innovating to find the most sustainable fabrics to use in its apparel and gear. Bison fiber is the latest sustainable fiber that the brand has integrated into its product line.

Dubbed BisonShield, UBB’s unique insulation is a blend of 50 percent bison fiber and 50 percent recycled polyester. It’s the most sustainable down-alternative jacket the brand has ever produced. BisonShield insulation regulates body temperature, is hypoallergenic, warm when wet, lightweight and flexible and uses a supply chain that takes advantage of a fiber that’s otherwise considered a waste byproduct by the ranching industry.

PrimaLoft Bio

PrimaLoft is a key player in the world of synthetic insulation, and one of its newest types, Bio, took nearly five years of development. “We think of ourselves as an advanced materials company, so our core strength is polymers and textiles. Our thought process was ‘It’s going to be virtually impossible to police the world,’ so we wanted to go at its source,” says Mike Joyce, CEO of PrimaLoft.

Alongside experts from various industries, the brand found that to achieve a more sustainable product, modifying the synthetic polyester was the best play. “We modify the polymer so it’s more attractive to the natural microorganisms that reside in landfills and oceans,” Joyce says. “A standard polyester is not a material that microorganisms will gravitate towards.” So the brand created a material that microorganisms are attracted to in order to speed up the decomposition process. “They break it down into natural materials such as water, CO2, methane and what we call biomass.” Does this mean it’ll start to degrade in your closet? “No, it won’t because oxygen doesn’t trigger it. You have to be in an environment where microorganisms exist,” like the ocean or a landfill, Joyce says. After rigorous testing, PrimaLoft claims that Bio is 84 percent degraded after 400 days compared to standard polyester, which is just two percent degraded.

Wool

Wool is widely used for next-to-skin garments, but not so much as insulation. While there are a handful of companies that are creating wool-insulated jackets, pants, shirts and more, Ortovox has committed to using it across its entire jacket line. The brand uses what it calls Swisswool insulation. Sourcing the wool is an incredibly hands-on process. Ortovox works exclusively with Swiss farmers to buy their second shearing wool, which is course, stiff and scratchy, and not particularly suited for sweaters or base layers. However, those very traits make it a good insulator.

After sourcing the material from various collection points around Switzerland, the wool is weighed and farmers are paid in cash for their crop (much the same way you’d buy tomatoes at a farmer’s market). This second shearing wool was previously discarded or burned because it cannot be woven. Ortovox thought creatively and turned it into a product that is both sustainable and high-performance.

37.5

We’ve written extensively on 37.5 and its ability to keep you cool during workouts, sleep and throughout the day. It’s also shown up in insulating jackets; Portland, Oregon-based Nau previously integrated 37.5 into its jackets as an alternate for goose down to capitalize on its ability to stay warm, dry quickly and is resist odors, which is a concern when a base layer or insulation layer is so close to your skin.

Flowers

Yes, you read that right: flowers. Introduced by a brand called Pangaia, FLWRDWN is made of dried wildflowers and a biopolymer that are infused with aerogel. Pangaia claims that it took more than ten years to develop and that the sourcing process relies on a system of regenerative agriculture that contributes to habitat restoration, butterfly conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gases. Plus, the flower fluff is both breathable and hypoallergenic.

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

Meg Lappe is Gear Patrol’s Editorial Coordinator, handling strategy across our digital, print, video and social teams. She can typically be found running around.

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The One Bike Upgrade to Make in 2020

There’s a stigma in the cycling world when it comes to oversized pulley wheels and ceramic bearings. That they’re for dentists with too much money to spend, or pros and no one else. The stigma is perpetuated on Instagram accounts like @cat3memes, an account dedicated to making fun of road cyclists and their idiosyncrasies (or as described in its profile bio: “Stiff, lightweight, full-carbon memes for the amateur road cycling community.”). But what if simply adding oversized ceramic pulley wheels, ceramic bottom bracket bearings and a better chain to your drivetrain could make you 6-14 watts more efficient when riding?

For the lay person, or those cyclists who train and ride without power meters, that number may not really seem like a lot. But it translates directly into riding faster, and in turn can mean being able to ride farther. I recently decided to see what all of the hype was about, and added a handful of CeramicSpeed bits to my bike. Are they really just for dentists? Or can middling, overly average cyclists like me benefit from these upgrades as well? For reference, I added the oversized pulley wheel system, bottom bracket and the UFO-coated chain.

CeramicSpeed, a company known for its sport ceramic bearings, has done considerable research into the efficiencies gained by adding its oversized pulley wheels and bottom bracket to your drivetrain. (You can read in-depth about said research here.) Many professional riders in races like the Tour de France ride CeramicSpeed bearings, even if there are no logos and the brand isn’t a team sponsor. Peter Sagan swears by CeramicSpeed bearings (he’s sponsored by them), and if his three world championships have anything to say about it, it seems to be working.

The first upgrade I sought out was the oversized pulley wheel system, and that’s because the science seemed to make the most sense to me. The idea (in addition to less friction supplied by ceramic bearings) is that the larger wheels put more gradual bends in your chain, which allows it to flow through the derailleur and jockey wheels more efficiently. That’s an oversimplification of the physics, but it makes sense. According to CeramicSpeed, this also has a marginally beneficial impact on shifting efficiency.

As for the bottom bracket, the gains here seem even more marginal for a recreational cyclist like myself. But it stands to reason that even gaining fractions of a watt over a 60-mile ride is worth it if you’re serious about improving your cycling.

The UFO-coated chain features CeramicSpeed’s proprietary lubrication (which can also be bought in bottled form). When you buy a chain pre-coated, the lubrication will last for about 370 miles or so before it wears off. Once it does, you’ll need to either buy a bottle of UFO lube or apply more lube of your choosing.

To test whether or not these bike upgrades actually made me faster, I took a decidedly less scientific route than CeramicSpeed did in its tests. I simply went out and rode my bike. It felt fast, smooth and it certainly garnered a lot of attention at the mid-ride coffee stop (and not just from dentists). But the most important benefit I got out of upgrading to CeramicSpeed parts was that I rode my bike more. I felt a strong desire to hit the road and ride further and for longer. I didn’t set any KOMs on my Strava, or hit new top speeds, but I felt faster. Sure, it could easily just be placebo. But to me, a placebo benefit is just as worth it as a benefit backed up by numbers and KOMs. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that they look badass as well.

The big question that everybody has when it comes to CeramicSpeed parts is “Are they worth their hefty price tags?” It’s a fair question, but not one that’s easily answered. For me, yes — unquestionably. Would I go behind on my rent to put them on my bike? No. I’m the type of person who is dedicated to squeezing every last ounce of performance out of my bike, and the type of person who is obsessive about gear (hence my position at Gear Patrol). But you might not be the same, and $499 for a few watts gained might not be worth it. Before considering upgrading, it’s important to weigh those options.

OSPW by CeramicSpeed $499

UFO Racing Chain by CeramicSpeed $160

BSA Bottom Bracket by CeramicSpeed $359

Beginners Will Love Trek’s Affordable New Mountain Bike

A new mountain bike can cost more than a decent used car. Take a scroll through almost any bike company’s website, and you’ll find this to be true. It’s enough to put seasoned riders off (or in search of an industry friend with a discount), and for someone interested in mountain biking as a new hobby, it can be downright prohibitive. That’s why Trek made its new bike, the Roscoe 6, as approachable for beginners as possible, in both price and features.

Unlike the priciest mountain bikes available, the Roscoe is a hardtail, meaning it has front but not rear suspension. It’s a simplified design that requires a lot fewer components (which can cut the price in half) but also offers some benefits to beginners in that hardtails are lighter and more efficient on flatter and smoother surfaces.

Trek built the aluminum-framed Roscoe to many of mountain biking’s current trends, like 1x drivetrains and fatter tires. The bike is also sleek with internal cable routing. Thinking ahead, Trek also offers riders room to grow through the Roscoe’s upgradeable components, which include a dropper-ready seatpost, rims compatible with tubeless tires and, for those looking to ride this bike as a daily commuter or go on a mini bikepacking trip, rack mounts. Not bad, for a thousand bucks.

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 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 10 Best Snow Goggles You Can Get Right Now

Have you ever tried to ski without goggles? Generally speaking, it’s a horrendous idea. Snowflakes bombard eyeballs like X-wings did the Death Star. Wind withers peepers into useless prunes. Skewer-sharp branches threaten at every turn. And blinding UV rays, reflecting off obliging snow, scorch retinas to a crisp that a steakhouse maître d’ might euphemistically describe as “well done.” 

Without goggles, even the most proficient of skiers and snowboarders are as blind and helpless as newborn puppies. That’s why we’ve wrangled specs from the top brands and put them to the test. In this buyer’s guide, you’ll find the best goggles available for the 2020 season, including top budget picks. Oh, and if you wanna geek out on goggle knowledge, feel free jump down to our deep dive into lens science, expert opinions and critical buying concerns.

Anon M4 Toric

Best Overall Snow Goggle

If price is no object, allow the M4 to be the object of your ocular affection. Premium Sonar by Zeiss toric lenses keep these Anons on pace with the optical elite (we’re in love with the versatile Sonar Green, 23% VLT, as an everyday lens). However, it’s the magnetic lens-swapping system that pushes the M4 a step ahead. While more and more brands are hopping on the magnetic bandwagon, Anon’s been a forceful pioneer: the M4 is the fittingly named fourth men’s installment of their magnetic lineup. Launched in 2012, the M1 had six contact points. Now, the M4 has nine, and the connection has never been more secure. Expansive peripheral vision, plush triple-layer foam and an included low-light lens and magnetic face mask bolster the M4’s campaign. Lastly, on a neat but rather unnecessary note, the M4 is the first goggle to be compatible with both cylindrical and toric lenses. We recommend sticking with the optically superior toric lenses— they’re tough to beat.

Oakley Line Miner

Best Mid-Range Snow Goggle

“Oakley” and “affordable” in the same sentence? Yes indeed! While far from cheap, the Line Miner pairs a classic, stylish frame with Oakley’s lauded Prizm lenses for a reasonable, mid-range pair of goggles that pros and newbies alike will love. The lens can be popped free of the frame for swapping, although it is touch-and-go and best done indoors with a goggle wipe handy. The wide cylindrical lens sits snug to the face and offers first-class peripheral vision, plus the techy Prizm’s contrast and color are crispier than blackened bacon (we tested the Prizm Sapphire Iridium). Additionally, the Line Miner was one of the most comfortable goggles of the entire test.

Smith Range

Best Budget Snow Goggle

Like a Honda Accord, the Smith Range is cheap, borderline generic and refreshingly dependable. Similar to said sedan, the Range won’t turn heads by any means, but these goggles will get you where you need to go. Cylindrical Carbonic-X lenses offer better optics than suggested by the $75 price tag. A large fit and gently curved frame help the Range integrate with a wide range of helmets. Four vents over the eyebrows and a Fog-X-treated inner lens help mitigate run-ruining condensation. For casual and/or thrifty skiers and snowboarders, the Range is worthy of consideration.

Oakley Fall Line XL

Best Cylindrical Snow Goggle

The sleek, frameless Fall Line XL offers futuristic, oversized styling and a lens-swapping system is similar to that of its full-framed cousin, the Line Miner — not so easy that you’d want to whip out your low-light lens on the chairlift. Prizm lenses earned two thumbs up from our test crew due to consummate pop and contrast. One snowboarder, who happens to sling goggles at a ski town optics shop, commented, “Prizm is like looking at an HDTV.” Cylindrical lens lovers will fall head over heels for the Fall Line XL, and those who aren’t on the hunt for an XL fit will be satisfied with the medium-sized Fall Line.

Smith 4D Mag

Best Visibility/Most Innovative Snow Goggle

Thanks to new creased lenses — what Smith calls BirdsEye Vision technology — the 4D Mag is arguably the most innovative goggle on the market. Compared to the popular I/O Mag, the exaggerated curvature of the 4D Mag boosts field of view by 25 percent. However, when you look down through this new-fangled lens — something you almost never do while actually riding — there is significant distortion. As such, it’s more helpful when you’re looking for your CamelBak hose or reaching into your chest pocket for a walkie-talkie or Snickers Bar. Despite a hype-worthy lens story, our favorite aspect of the 4D Mag is actually Smith’s lens-swapping system. It’s not as simple as Anon’s, but it’s easy enough to do on the chairlift, and by relying on both locking levers and magnets, Smith’s adopted a belt-and-suspenders approach that hardcore skiers and snowboarders will respect. 

Dragon PXV

Sexiest Snow Goggle

From afar, the PXV looks like an oversized cylindrical lens, but that’s merely a mirage: it’s actually a toric lens. The Panotech lenses possess a slight curve in the vertical axis in order to capture the optical benefits of spherical lenses. Science aside, the stylish PXV offers a sweeping field of view, and LumaLenses (plural — the PXV comes with a spare) supply clarity and depth perception that’s only a shade below top-tier goggles that cost an additional $50 to $100. All told, this is a smart choice for the mid-range crowd. Our sole gripe with the PXV? Due to the shape of the lenses and the box in which the goggles were shipped, there was a centimeter-wide scratch directly in the center of the lens upon arrival. We assume this is a fluke, but a bummer just the same.

Electric Egg

Most Comfortable Snow Goggle

Pairing bulbous toric lenses with a thin yet durable TPU-frame — and available in flashy prints or blacked-out mattes — the EGG is guaranteed to be easy on the eyes. Same goes for performance in the field: testers approved of the highly reflective Red Chrome (VLT 23%) option for mixed conditions and general use. Form-fitting triple-layer foam, a flexible frame, Over the Glasses (OTG) fit and a wide, adjustable strap helped the EGG earn points in the comfort category. Pro tip: rather than buying multiple lenses, step up to the photochromic EGG ($220+) — lens-swapping mid-mountain with this system is not recommended. 

Giro Method

Best Low-Profile Snow Goggle

New for 2020, the Method fittingly serves up 20/20 vision. At $130, these goggles are one of your most affordable avenues to sample Carl Zeiss’s lens expertise. In fact, the Method comes with two of Giro’s VIVID lenses, and the Slash Seal interchangeable system isn’t too tricky, although it definitely isn’t the best lens-swapping system out there for on-mountain adjustments. The Method’s cylindrical lenses and suave, minimalist frame are stylish enough for even the most nit-picky of park riders, and Giro’s Adapt Straps allow you to get creative and customize your kit.

Zeal Hemisphere

Best Photochromic Snow Goggle

Once you look through photochromic lenses, there’s no looking back. Enter Zeal’s Hemisphere, a well-ventilated, well-executed spherical option. When transitioning from flat light to clear skies and back again, the dark photochromic lens we tested adjusted automatically and without a hitch. A Rocky Mountain tester did comment that the lens failed to offer the contrast required on seriously stormy days, so when you can barely distinguish choppy tracks from fresh powder, you may want a pair of goggles more tuned to extremely flat light.

POC Fovea Mid Clarity

Best Mid-Sized Snow Goggle

The Swedish eyewear experts at POC joined forces with Zeiss (honestly, who hasn’t?!) to develop the Fovea Mid Clarity, a top-of-the-line, full-framed, smaller-sized goggle with a wide field of view and the clarity required at the top of puckering lines. Zeiss-born Clarity lenses are crafted from scientifically optimized base tints, which are then glossed with a conditions-specific Spektris mirror coating. The result? According to our crew, the Category 2 lens we tested (22% VLT) is a high-contrast, specialized lens that deserves a place on the optical podium. If you need a bigger fit or crave an extra low-light lens, step up to the Fovea Clarity Comp ($220).

Snow Goggle Deep Dive

How We Tested

From my base in Crested Butte, Colorado, I reached out to top goggle brands and asked them to ship out their latest and greatest products. I also asked brands to include a pair of more affordable goggles, in order to determine our top budget picks. To gather data for this buyer’s guide, I first analyzed products myself, and then I handed off pairs to a network of proven, ruthless snowboard, splitboard and ski testers to put goggles on the mountain. Of the 20 goggles tested, the ones above were our 10 favorites. 

Why You Should Shred in Goggles

While I’m an expert on ski goggles, having tested countless pairs over the past five years, I’m no doctor. In order to outline exactly why you should rock goggles when you go skiing, I spoke with David Robbins, a Doctor of Optometry out of ABBA Eyecare in Gunnison, Colorado.

Snowblindness: “Skiing without goggles, especially at high elevation with more UV exposure, is definitely a mistake,” says Robbins. “Acute over-exposure can lead to photokeratitis, more commonly known as ‘snowblindness.’ ” Photokeratitis typically produces one of three reactions in the cornea — none of which sound particularly pleasant. “The cornea appears like it has been rubbed raw with sand paper, the cornea appears like a cheese grater went across it or the cornea looks like a fried egg (the result of a true UV burn).”

Macular Degeneration: Robbins explains that while painful, photokeratitis isn’t necessarily a long-term concern. That honor goes to macular degeneration, “an aging disease that leads to progressive vision loss,” which, alongside cataracts, is “expedited or potentially caused by chronic overexposure to UV.”

Corneal Abrasion: “But can’t I just use my sunglasses?” This is one of the most common questions people ask while shopping for goggles. Sunglasses, while better than nothing, don’t come close to offering the complete face-wrapping protection of goggles. “During ski season I see more tree-branch-to-the-eye corneal abrasion than snow blindness,” notes Robbins. “The tree branch will inevitably find a way under the sunglasses!” Sunglasses, in general, aren’t built to withstand these types of impacts, whereas goggles are designed with jabbing tree branches and tomahawk crashes in mind. Furthermore, while shades can look stylish when worn with a beanie, they are unequivocally dorky when paired with a helmet — please don’t even try.

Note: For backcountry skiing or splitboarding, sunglasses are often preferable on the uphill, as they are less prone to fogging up during rigorous climbs. When touring in highly reflective glacial terrain, it’s common to see backcountry travelers relying on “glacier glasses.” This sunglasses subset is defined by small, curved leather or plastic flaps near the temples, which help the shades fit snugly against the face and offer more protection from UV rays. However, these flaps probably aren’t going to stop a lance-like tree branch, and so we always recommend carrying a pair of goggles for the descent. 

Breaking Down Lens Technology

Lenses make or break goggles. As such, we chopped it up with Trevor Moore, the Senior Product Manager at Anon, seeing as how Anon’s M4 goggles were our favorite from the test. We were impressed by both the M4’s intuitive magnetic lens-swapping system and their premium lenses, which were developed in collaboration with the ultimate optic overlord: Carl Zeiss. We’ll touch on both interchangeable lenses and lens technology in general below. 

A basic understanding of Visible Light Transmission (VLT) is helpful when shopping for goggles. According to Trevor, VLT (measured in percentage) refers to the “how much light passes through the lens and reaches your eye.” He goes on to point out that these percentages are tweaked by adjusting tints and mirror coatings. Brilliant bluebird days require darker low-VLT lenses, while nocturnal skiers can get away with clear high-VLT lenses. And in between, there’s a wide range of lenses that are tuned to more mixed conditions. 

Choosing Your Lens Based on Conditions

With mountain conditions often changing with little to no warning, skiers and snowboarders need to be prepared. There are two main ways to navigate these shifts. The first is to swap out lenses (or goggles) as needed. The second is to pick a pair of goggles that come with photochromic lenses, which actually adapt to the light.

Interchangeable lenses: Interchangeable lens systems can run steep (oftentimes upwards of $200), but they’re well worth it — skiing in flat light while rocking lenses intended for a bluebird day is a recipe for a season-ending injury. When you purchase a pair of goggles with interchangeable lenses, it usually comes with a low-light lens and a darker, tinted lens for brighter days. While you can flesh out your kit with a third mid-range lens, it’s not necessary. Another pro of buying an interchangeable lens system? Should you step on your goggles or get up close and personal with a tree branch, you can always replace your mangled lenses at a fraction of the cost of a pair of new goggles. 

While interchangeable lens systems all serve the same purpose, the technologies vary immensely from brand to brand. Anon’s M4 uses 18 rare earth magnets to secure lens to goggle frame, and is both surprisingly strong and incredibly easy to use. Dragon’s SwiftLock tech goes for a more mechanical connection, with levers that click satisfyingly to lock a lens into place. Smith’s new 4D Mag combines the two, with magnets as well as mechanical connection points at the bottom of the frame. Regardless of the system, lens swapping should be a straightforward endeavor that requires little effort and can be done with gloved hands; unfortunately, that’s not often the case. 

Photochromic Lenses: For those who are sick of changing lenses with frostbitten fingers, photochromic lenses (such as the Zeal Hemisphere above) are an attractive, albeit expensive, alternative. “Photochromic lenses offer the most dynamic tint spectrum in one package, which is helpful in a day that has multiple lighting conditions,” says Robbins. “They have their disadvantages, such as taking a few minutes to change when set in a completely new light environment (walking into a warming hut), but normally while skiing the conditions change gradually.” Should the day start sunny but clouds roll in come afternoon, photochromic goggles are dreamy. But ripping in and out of sun and shadow? You might prefer to just lock in a mid-range VLT lens and stick with it. 

Understanding Lens Shapes

Lenses, like people and pancakes, come in all shapes and sizes.

Cylindrical lenses: As the name suggests, cylindrical lenses look as if they’re cut out of the side of a tube — they’re curved on the horizontal axis, and straight on the vertical axis. These lenses are generally cheaper and have more optical aberrations than spherical lenses.

Spherical lenses: Spherical lenses look as if — you guessed it — they’re a section of a sphere. By more closely simulating the natural shape of the eye, this curvature offers better peripherals and clarity, though it also comes with a steeper price tag. 

Toric lenses and lens variations: Ready to nerd out? Toric lenses derive their name from the “torus,” which is not to be confused with your ex-girlfriend’s zodiac sign. Essentially, a torus is a donut shape. If you picture slicing off a sliver of donut, you can begin to understand why toric lenses are becoming more and more popular.  “A spherical goggle is curved equally on the x- and y-axis, like a basketball,” says Robbins. “Where the toric lens only has slight curvature on the y-axis and perfect curvature on the x… most likely, the toric lenses will have the best optics due to matching curvature of eye and face more closely.”

As Robbins mentions, toric lenses can better mimic the shape of the eye — which is not, in fact, a perfect sphere. Also, spherical and cylindrical lenses are somewhat limited by their geometry — a sphere is a sphere and a cylinder a cylinder — but manufacturers can adjust the dimensions and segmentation of the donut to play with various lens shapes. They have more wiggle room to tweak the recipe, manipulate curvature and pursue perfection. 

Toric lenses, then, have infinite iterations. Dragon’s Panotech lenses, for instance, look like cylindrical lenses, although they’re considered toric due to a subtle bend on the vertical axes. On the other side of the spectrum, goggles like the Anon M4 or Electric EGG look spherical at first glance; not until you put them under the microscope can you see differences between the vertical and horizontal axes.

Lastly, there are some lenses that don’t fall neatly into any category. You have out-of-the-box innovations like Smith’s new 4D Mag. This beast is dramatically curved — almost angular — at the bottom of the lens, which helps to extend the goggle’s field of view. 

Which lens is best suited to you? That depends on budget, fit, style and personal preference. 

Picking the Right Pair of Goggles for You

Fit and comfort: Picking the right pair of goggles is largely a matter of fit. Sure, you can buy the best goggles in the world, but if they don’t fit your face, wearing them will be a drag. The best way to ensure that your prospective goggles fit your face is to try them on in person. Head to your local ski shop or buy a few contenders online and return those that don’t work. 

Helmet compatibility: If you wear a helmet — and you definitely should — purchase your goggles and helmet simultaneously to make sure the goggles fit well inside the helmet and there aren’t any annoying gaps or pesky hot spots. Or, if you already have a helmet you like, make sure you try on your goggles with that specific helmet. Borderline obvious advice: you’ll likely get the best helmet/goggle match with two products from the same brand.

Budget: Anon’s M4 — our top rated goggle — costs $300. Yes, it comes with a magnetic face mask that snaps to the goggle frame, as well as a spare lens, but still, it’s prohibitively expensive. There are definitely cheaper goggles that work well — like the mid-range Oakley Line Miner and Giro Method or the budget Smith Range — but when it comes to goggles, you get what you pay for. If you’re spending under $100, you likely won’t get an extra lens, an easy interchangeable lens system or premium optics.

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 Items for a Travel-Friendly EDC

The operative word in the term EDC – everyday carry – is “everyday.” It implies daily use, which to some might come through something like Airpods and to others, a pocket knife. The items we find useful day in, day out vary from one person to another, but it’s not just a personal preference that allows for distinction in what we carry. Place plays a role too.

You might have an outdoor-specific EDC or one for life in the city. Or you might gear your everyday carry toward no place in particular and instead for the flexibility that travel requires. In which case, you’ve come to the right place indeed.

Code of Bell X-Pod

Sling bags have recently been drawing devotees from the fashion world, but they aren’t just a style statement; they’re practical, too. That’s particularly true for travel — when a backpack is overkill for a day spent wandering a foreign city, you still need something to tote around an extra layer, water and a camera (as well as the other items on this list). Code of Bell’s X-Pod is perfect for the task thanks to a sleek look and expanding construction that accommodates more than you’d think.

The James Brand Stilwell

Sure, most pens are small enough to travel well, but Stilwell does so with determined style. Closed, this pen is 3.5 inches long and fits into the coin pocket of your jeans. Open, it’s cap extends the utensil’s length to fit comfortably in hand, even during long bouts of journaling. As a bonus, the Stilwell uses a replaceable D1 ink cartridge that’s easy to find around the world.

Moleskine Voyageur Notebook

While any bound stack of paper might serve as a place to jot down impressions from the road, Moleskine outfitted its Voyageur Notebook specifically for travel. It has pages, lined and blank, for drawings and thoughts, but it also contains sections for planning days and budgets as well as need-to-know information, such as time zones, area codes and how to get in touch with local police.

HydraPak Stow

The Stow uses a flexible construction that keeps it lightweight and remarkably packable.

Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

After a full day in transit or hours spent on a hiking trail or around town, a fresh-feeling face makes for a simple yet wondrous morale boost. Stash some of these wipes in your carry-on and day bag, so you always have one at the ready.

Leatherman Free T4

A road trip through Europe inspired Tim Leatherman to create the original multi-tool, but the newer Swiss Army-like Free T4 is ideal for everyday travelers. Its compact form employs magnets to permit one-handed deployment of a knife, scissors, bottle opener, screwdriver, tweezers and more. Needless to say, don’t stash this one in your carry-on.

Bellroy Coin Fold

Coins still count as meaningful currency in most countries, so it’s smart to carry a wallet that keeps them safe in one place. Take Bellroy’s Coin Fold, which might be a standard billfold if it weren’t for its smartly-designed coin pouch. (The wallet also has a slot for a SIM card, should you need to swap your phone to a local carrier.)

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 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

Science Says Carbon Fiber Running Shoes Make You Faster — Here’s How to Choose the Right One

What do a car, boat and plane have in common? If you’re thinking an engine, you’re right. However, despite having a common denominator, you wouldn’t use a car to fly or a boat on the roads; their use cases are very specifically built. Carbon fiber plated running shoes are similar. While not as obvious as the preceding example, each carbon fiber shoe is designed for a certain type of runner

Believe it or not, the first carbon fiber running shoe debuted over 15 years ago when Adidas experimented with improving their popular racing shoe, the AdiStar. In an effort to boost performance, researchers introduced a thin carbon fiber plate to the midsole of the shoe. While the precise mechanics weren’t totally understood at the time, it’s now thought that carbon fiber plates help reduce energy lost as the big toe bends during toe-off. 

The most notable and publicized carbon fiber shoe is the Nike Vaporfly 4%, and righfully so. Between its independently researched confirmed performance benefits and crazy fast marathon times, that shoe above all others makes ya wonder, “Could I benefit from a pair?”

In total, six carbon fiber running shoes are out now, with more on the way: the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%,  Nike Zoom Fly 3, Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, Hoka One One Carbon X, Hoka One One Carbon Rocket and New Balance FuelCell 5280.

As I mentioned above, each of these shoes is quite different in build and purpose. Before dropping as much as $250 on a pair of running shoes, you need to consider factors such as your running pace, running mechanics and race distance. If you don’t, the result could be as useless as buying a car for a day on the lake.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%

Best Race Day Shoe for Competitive Runners

If you’re a well-trained runner gunning for a personal record in any distance, 5k to marathon, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is hands-down a shoe you must consider. As a full-time running coach, I have yet to see anything legal that can have a greater immediate impact on race day.  One caveat, though: it’s not for everyone. All the studies confirming its efficiency gains have been done on elite/competitive runners who tend to be extremely well-trained and have dialed-in running mechanics. The geometry of the shoe is geared for a midfoot to forefoot runner. A very soft and narrow heel base offers little in the way of stability for a rear-footed runner (a.k.a. heel striker). I doubt the recreational runner would see the same benefits as the runners in the studies. So I generally say if you’re in the realm of Boston Marathon qualifier or beyond, this shoe is worth the high price tag. Best to save these for raceday only; they last a fraction of the miles of your typical running shoe.  

Weight: 6.6oz
Drop: 8mm

Hoka One One Carbon X

Best Race Day Shoe for Everyday Runners

As race pace slows and the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% starts to lose its magic, the Hoka One One Carbon X begins to shine. The wide platform underfoot creates a stable, forgiving landing zone for those with less than perfect running mechanics. While the Carbon X doesn’t carry the same research-backed gains as the Vaporfly, it will offer race-day performance benefits over your everyday training shoe. For starters, odds are it’s considerably lighter than that sneaker, meaning less weight you must lug through every footstep.

Weight: 8.8oz
Drop: 5mm

New Balance FuelCell 5280

Best Shoe For Mile Road Races

As I was a miler in college, this shoe has a special place in my heart. New Balance designed the FuelCell 5280 with help from one of the best female milers in the world, Jenny Simpson. Named 5280 for the number of feet in a mile, its profile resembles a sprinter’s track spike: very minimal cushioning with a stiff rocker under the forefoot. The aggressive geometry all but forces a forefoot strike, making it ideal for short maximum efforts such as the mile and below – less so for anything longer. Coming in at 5.3oz, it’s considerably lighter than the 6.6oz Nike Vaporfly 4%, giving it the edge as race distances get shorter and comfort becomes less of a concern. Just ask Simpson: the eight-time Fifth Avenue Mile champ wore the 5280 while setting the course record last year.

Weight: 5.3oz
Drop: 6mm

Nike Zoom Fly 3

Best Speed Trainer for Competitive Runners

If you’re absolutely head over heels in love with Nike’s Vaporfly 4% and NEXT% and can’t imagine anything faster than your normal pace in anything but, I highly recommend their brother here, which will save you money in the long run. See, the Nike Zoom X midsole on the Vaporfly breaks down extremely quickly, so if you train in them regularly, you could find yourself spending $250 a month on shoes. Meanwhile, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 features a more durable midsole called Nike React while still offering the elusive curved carbon fiber plate. Furthermore, the Zoom Fly 3 has a wider heel base and less of a rocker than the NEXT%, giving it a friendlier and more stable ride you’ll appreciate training in day after day. Did I mention it’s also more than a hundred bucks cheaper?

Weight: 9.6oz
Drop: 11mm
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.