All posts in “Outdoors”

It’s Damn Hot, So Here’s What You Need to Know About Coolers

We’re smack dab in the middle of July, which means you’re either shopping for a new cooler or already daydreaming about all the goodies going into the one you have for your next big trip to the beach or the woods. Either way, it pays to know your stuff when it comes to cooler design, cooler size and prepping and packing your cooler properly.

So before you shop our buying guide or start stocking up on the finest meats and cheeses — and beer, of course — check out these quick and handy FAQs.

What Is a Rotomolded Cooler?

There’s a reason so many of the coolers created today are tougher, heavier and more expensive than the Igloo Playmate you may have carried around in years past. The update is primarily due to a manufacturing process called rotational molding, or more commonly, rotomolding.

In rotomolding, a heated mold is filled with powdered plastic material. The mold rotates on two axes as it heats the plastic until it is completely melted and fills every cavity within the hollow mold. The constant rotation helps the plastic resin spread evenly and consistently throughout. The result is a single-piece plastic cast of the desired shape that’s free of any imperfections. Rotomolding contributes to all of the traits that represent the current level of quality in today’s coolers, most importantly rugged durability and superior ice retention.

How Do I Pick the Right Cooler Size?

Hmm… 20-, 30-, 40-quart — knowing what each size cooler can hold can be tricky. Some brands (ahem, Yeti) don’t provide specific volume specs either, choosing instead to measure space by how many cans you can stash inside.

While the shape makes a difference, especially with soft-sided coolers, here’s what we tended to see when testing coolers for our buying guide. A 70-quart size tends to be the most family-friendly, and the smaller soft-sided coolers are perhaps better for a tailgate or drinks for a group. Keep in mind: the larger the cooler, the heavier it will be, especially when filled with food and drink — so a partner in hefting, ideally one of similar height, never hurts. Here’s what we gathered as general guidelines after our research. Most of the brands measure the capacity at a two-to-one ratio, meaning two parts ice, one part can, but some don’t. So take measurements with a grain of salt.

20 Quart: holds roughly 16 cans or 20 pounds of ice
35 Quart: holds roughly 21 cans or 26 pounds of ice
50 Quart: holds roughly 35 cans or 43 pounds of ice; ideal for two people for a few days
75 Quart: holds roughly 57 cans or 70 pounds of ice; ideal for two people for a weeklong trip, or a family weekend trip.

How Do I Get the Most Out of My Cooler?

To max out of your cooler’s capabilities, make sure to pre-chill it for 24 hours before you pack it up and head out. Pre-chilling involves adding ice to your cooler to bring the internal temperature of the cooler down. When you’re ready to pack the cooler the following day, dump the ice you added for pre-chill and add new ice to the cooler. The new ice will stay frozen longer and provide extended performance in the realm of cold retention.

What’s the Best Way to Pack My Cooler?

The truth is, you can pack the coolers in our guide in all kinds of configurations and get far better results than you can with an old-school cooler. But to get the best ice retention possible — with any cooler — keep the following tips and tricks in mind.

Line the bottom of your cooler with ice. Putting a layer of ice on the bottom of your cooler will keep the ice colder longer and also keeps it away from the least-insulated part of the cooler, the lid.

Fill your cooler with solid blocks of ice if possible. Because they have less overall surface area, solid blocks of ice stay frozen longer than ice cubes do.

Fill the gaps with ice cubes. Pour a bag’s worth of ice cubes on top of your ice blocks to fill any gaps or holes.

Add your food, beer or both. Lay out your supplies in a manner that makes sense. In other words, don’t just toss everything in. Keep your morning meals on one side and your evening meals on the other side. This will ensure that you spend minimal time with the cooler open (which allows hot air inside and reduces ice retention).

Fill the rest of the cooler with ice cubes or ice packs. Top off with some additional ice and you’re good to go. To keep it chilled as long as possible, only open the cooler when absolutely necessary.

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It’s Never Been Easier to Buy One of the Best E-Bikes

E-bike designers face a conundrum of physics: How do you pack a motor and a battery into metal tubes only a few inches in diameter? Many don’t bother; they simply attach the motorized components to the exterior of a bike. But those designers don’t win international design awards like Red Dot, as the Dutch company VanMoof did last year with its S3 and X3 e-bikes, which are more accessible than ever thanks to a new rent-to-own style payment plan.

Before we get to what makes these e-bikes so awesome, here’s the breaking news: VanMoof recently announced that US-based riders can now begin to purchase these award-winning bikes for as little as $83 per month. While the payments (through Klarna) are split over a 36-month period, you can start riding right away, and feel secure thanks to the included Peace of Mind Theft and Maintenance coverage. If your bike is stolen, they’ll track it down within two weeks or replace it. Bikes also get checkups every 1,552 miles and ad-hoc servicing.

As great as those perks are, they aren’t what won the award, of course. The Red Dot jury states that VanMoof’s e-bike line “impresses with a purist design that epitomizes the essence of a bicycle,” reflecting a notion Gear Patrol and its bike testers have long held: the best e-bikes are those that are the most like regular bikes (only faster). The jurors elaborated, praising VanMoof for incorporating “sophisticated functionality that integrates all elements into the frame in a stylish yet unobtrusive manner.”

The functionality that they refer to includes a 250-watt motor that can get the bike up to an effortless 15 miles per hour for a maximum range of around 90 miles. VanMoof also integrated its theft protection system, which includes a keyless lock, rider recognition, built-in alarms, location tracking and a remote lockdown mode. Of course, the S3 and X3’s standard bike components are top-notch too — front and rear lights, fenders, racks, electronic gear shifting and hydraulic disc brakes are all part of the package.

Worth noting: the total cost of the bike is a few hundred dollars more with the subscription plan (around $2,988 versus roughly $2,596). Click the link for more details, and check out the bikes themselves below.

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VanMoof S3

VanMoof X3

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These Adventure Vacations Are the Perfect Post-Pandemic Excursion

Now that things are beginning to open up again, trips and adventures are being booked, airline travel is at its highest peak since February 2020 and people are buying all the gear they need for their first post-pandemic vacation. This is good news, whether you’re looking for a relaxing week away or the adventure of a lifetime. No matter what type of trip you long for, it feels like our collective sense of adventure has certainly been stymied by the pandemic.

If you fall into the latter category and the adventure of a lifetime is what you’re seeking, there are a handful of websites you can check out to book that adventure vacation you’ve always wanted to go on. Picture yourself overlanding in a lifted Jeep Wrangler topped with a tent. Or wading in a Colorado river landing the biggest native trout you’ve ever caught. Or flying down the tarmac on the longest, albeit most rewarding, bike ride of your life.

Depending on what you want to spend, you can book something as straightforward as a kayaking discovery course for $30 or go as big as a week-long fly-fishing trip in Colorado for a few thousand dollars. Many of the sites below offer worldwide trips, but as we wait for the world to open back up for travel, the coming year might be the best chance you’ll have to explore your own backyard. If these sound like ideal trips, regardless of the price point you’re after, you’ve found the right place. It is time to get out there.


Pacific Overlander

Pacific Overlander

Types of Trips: Overlander and 4×4 Rentals, Guided Tours
Locations
: Anywhere across the West (It has hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas). Guided tours are in the Grand Canyon or Death Valley.

If you’ve long dreamt of being behind the wheel of the perfect 4×4 vehicle, leaving the asphalt behind and ripping across the American West, Pacific Overlander was made for you. It takes some of the best overlanders (including Jeep Wranglers, Toyota Tacomas and 4Runners) and decks them out with all of the features you need to get the most out of a multi-day overlanding adventure. They boast rooftop tents and all of the gear you need to get through your trip, including a fridge, camp chairs, a two-burner stove and cookware. When booking with Pacific Overlander, you can opt for a guided tour through the Grand Canyon or Death Valley, or you can rent a rig to go on your own adventure.

REI

Types of Trips: Backpacking, Climbing, Cycling, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Kayaking
Locations
: National Parks, Alaska, Tennessee, California, Utah and more

REI is more than your go-to co-op for any outdoor gear you could need. The retailer also provides access to a huge number of adventure vacations that you can take, varying from family-friendly hikes in the San Juan Islands to backpacking trips in Joshua Tree exclusively for folks under 35 years old. There are over 100 trip options in North America and many of them can be completed in just a weekend. You can also book a private trip if you’re looking for a more personal experience.

Orvis

Types of Trips: Saltwater Fly Fishing, Fresh Water Fishing, Wingshooting
Locations
: North America, Saltwater Tropics, Patagonia, Mongolia and more

Sportsmen everywhere have relied on Orvis to outfit them for their fishing and hunting needs for decades. The retailer’s shops are mainstays in popular fishing areas, offering up guidance and whether you want to toss a dry fly or a wooly bugger at the local river. It also takes things up a notch with its globe-trotting guided trips. You can hunt or fish all over the United States or venture to sporting meccas like Patagonia or Craigsanquhar in Scotland.

L.L. Bean

Types of Trips: Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Camping, Kayaking
Locations
: Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park, Maine’s Islands

In many ways, L.L. Bean offers more modest adventures than the rest of the options on this list. But that’s a good thing if you’re looking to get together with family for a quick camping or kayaking trip. Most of the adventures stick close to L.L. Bean’s home in Freeport, Maine and take you to locations like Acadia National Park and the Allagash River. While some of the adventures are a bit less robust, you can still choose from a ton of different activities, including sailing, kayaking, archery or even a hunter safety course.

Surfhouse Hotel

Surfhouse Hotel

Types of Trips: Surfing
Locations: Encinitas, California

If you want the beach destination picked out but still want to get in a guided adventure while you’re there, head to the Surfhouse Hotel in the surfing mecca of Encinitas, California. If you prefer, you can make your own itinerary, borrow a complimentary bike and take it down to the beach or to the local coffee shop. If you want something with more structure, you can sign up for surf lessons, guided surfing or yoga classes. The hotel also hosts 3-day all-inclusive experiences in collaborations with surf companies like Bing.

Drew_Martin

Wilderness Collective

Types of Trips: Moto and UTV adventures
Locations
: Yosemite, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Grand Canyon

The adventures you can book through Wilderness Collective require some prerequisite skill, but if you’ve ridden offroad previously you can do something that rarely seems accessible: moto through a national park. You can book moto or UTV trips all over the west, including trips from Zion to Bryce National Parks, through Joshua Tree or Yosemite or even an adventure moto trip in Alaska. Rentals of the moto or UTV are included in the price, plus you get everything else that is required: gear, food, drinks and shelter.

Backroads

Types of Trips: Road Cycling, Hiking
Locations: Worldwide

Backroads specializes in cycling trips but also offers multi-discipline adventures and walking/hiking tours. You can even book active safaris or active cruises. When we say that Backroads can take you worldwide, we mean worldwide. If you want to go there, Backroads probably has a trip that will take you. You can go on a river cruise in Ecuador, bike tours in France or Italy, or explore the Caribbean by bike and on foot.

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The Best New Knives and EDC of July 2021

We have to start July’s edition of The Best New Knives and EDC (or BNK&EDC for short, sort of) with news from June. Toward the middle of last month, Blade Magazine unveiled its Knife of the Year Award winners, and the list, which you can read here, is a sharp one. But before you ogle those soon-to-be-released knives, continue scrolling for what’s new this month.

Glow Rhino

glow rhino edc knife

Glow Rhino

Presented by Glow Rhino

Your adventures shouldn’t have to stop once the sun sets — and they won’t have to with The Reactor Knife from Glow Rhino. This knife has self-powered tritium that allows you to locate it no matter what — even in low-light settings. The Reactor carries a classic drop point blade crafted from S35VN Steel and is offered in two colorways: Matte Titanium and Matte Titanium Black PVD. Additional features include a deep carry clip to make sure the Reactor sits low-profile in your pocket and a dual prybar lanyard attachment that can open a can of paint or your favorite IPA. This premium knife is the perfect balance of the latest technology with classic styling and is a must-have for summer.

Price: $250

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CRKT Kova

crkt kova

CRKT

The Kova is imbued with EDC design simplicity, but its roots come from Scandinavia via designer Ken Steigerwalt, who has been making knives since childhood. The knife has a 3.5-inch drop-point blade made of high carbon stainless steel that’s easy to sharpen, but more interesting is its front lock mechanism, which is similar to a lockback but with a more forward position that facilitates one-handed operation.

Price: $50

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Civivi Ki-V

civivi ki v knife

Blade HQ

To make a compact EDC knife best suited to tasks like opening packages and sharpening pencils, designer Ostap Hel drew inspiration from a Japanese utility knife called a kiridashi. That’s where its unique angled edge comes from, but its non-locking construction and tiny size — the Ki-V’s blade is just 1.5 inches long — come from Hel’s wish for it to fall within a wide range of knife laws.

Price: $45

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Filson x Buck Knives 104 Compadre Camp Knife

filson x buck knives 104 compadre camp knife

Filson

Filson and Buck Knives’ latest collaboration comes just in time for summer camping. The pair designed this fixed-blade knife and a small axe with tough steel and Micarta handles to handle rigorous outdoor tasks like processing kindling for a fire or skinning wild game.

Price: $155

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Case Knives Modern EDC Collection

case knives modern edc collection

Case XX

Even after 200-plus years of knifemaking business, Case’s folding pocket knives are still best known for their Americana-inspired designs. The brand’s latest batch takes a different track, though, one that’s more aligned with the sleek everyday carry trend. The collection includes two models, the Kinzua ($153) and the Marilla ($180). Both are made with S35VN steel blades and anodized aluminum handles and come in a few colors; the Marilla even won the American-Made Knife of the Year award at Blade Show.

Editor’s note: At present, the entire collection is sold out. However, you can sign up to be notified if and when knives are restocked.

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Terrain 365 Otter Flip-AT

terrain 365 otter flip at knife

Terrain 365

In accordance with its price, this new flipper doesn’t skimp on ingredients. The scales are OD Green G10, the liners, hardware and pocket clip are titanium, and the blade is Terrain 365’s own proprietary dendritic cobalt super-alloy, Terravantium. Notable for its edge-holding properties, the material is guaranteed rust-proof, enabling this knife to live up to the AT at the end of its name.

Price: $311

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Peak Design Field Pouch V2

peak design field pouch v2

Peak Design

Peak Design understands that your EDC might not always fit so nicely in your pockets, so it revamped its Field Pouch with a new pocket layout to better carry cords, memory cards, keys, a small camera, your go-to pocket knife or anything else that’d get lost in a larger bag. It even comes with a strap, so you can rock it as a sling if you’re traveling light.

Price: $45

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Bad Wrap

bad wrap

Courtesy

The Bad Wrap takes the operating concept behind many camera bags — namely, protective padding surrounded by weatherproof fabric — and makes it far more versatile by laying it flat and adding a wire frame. The combination allows you to mold it over whatever needs protection inside your bag, be it a camera, tablet, headphones and so on.

Price: $18+

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Sure, It’s July, But You Should Still Care About This Innovative New Ski

Summer is not the season for skiing. It’s the season for thousand-year heatwaves, flooding subway systems, widespread wildfire warnings and unseasonal tropical storms, if you follow the news. To abandon such realities to daydream about snowy mountain heights and knee-deep powder can feel unconventional at best and negligent at worst. But WNDR Alpine is not a conventional ski company — and it just released its newest ski, the Reason 120, which is worth a moment of reality-abandoning consideration.

Timing isn’t the only peculiarity of the Reason 120. Neither is the combination of its wide 120-millimeter waist with a relatively light 4.8-pound-per-ski weight. But its Algal Core — algal as in algae, the slimy green stuff you probably associate with ponds and creeks — is.

WNDR (pronounced “wonder”) is an incubator of sorts for another company called Checkerspot, a Bay Area-based technology firm that’s working to develop bio-based alternatives to petroleum. To prove its concepts, it backed WNDR, theorizing that if its innovations can handle the extreme forces and temperatures that skis have to withstand, the stuff must work pretty damn well.

In the Reason 120 — and WNDR’s two narrower ski models — the algae-derived polyurethane is present as high-density stringers laminated into a wood core to provide rigidity and vibration damping. The Reason also has an algae-based sidewall, and a bio-based resin called Super Sap.

All of these technologies produce a ski with a smaller carbon footprint, but part of Checkerspot and WNDR’s aim is not simply to replace petroleum products but to make the alternative better. So even if you don’t care about the inherent value of a ski with reduced environmental impact (shame on you — don’t you realize that all those strange and extreme weather patterns in the news are all amplified by climate change and that snowy winters are an endangered species?) maybe you can see the value of a ski that’s simply of greater quality. And if you do, don’t wait till winter to snag a pair.

Price: $699

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Anita Naidu’s Best Lessons Have Nothing to Do With Mountain Biking

Transcendence. It’s a fun word with a plethora of meanings, but one of my favorites is “the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits.” Probably because that gives me a slim chance of adequately describing the life of freeride mountain bike coach and anti-racism educator Anita Naidu. Because while mountain biking is the sport where, as the first pro of East Indian descent, she continues to crush barriers, Naidu’s work in the realms of racial and social justice truly do transcend even her gnarliest two-wheeled accomplishments.

Hailing from Montreal and now based in the mountain bike Mecca of Whistler, British Columbia, Naidu’s list of accomplishments is as diverse as they come. Yes, she’s a ripping rider sponsored by Liv Cycling, MEC, Troy Lee Designs, SRAM, Industry 9, RockShox, Clif, Continental and Cush Core. She’s also the winner of a Google Impact Challenge grant, for an app called Services Advisor that has connected millions of refugees with humanitarian aid. And she holds master’s degrees in environmental and chemical engineering and has met the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment qualifications, which sorta makes sense for such a whiz at defying gravity.

But perhaps the coolest thing about Naidu is how she has used the inroads she has made in the traditionally white male sport of mountain biking to blaze a smoother trail for people of color. Not only does she help brands implement and improve DEI policies, but also her coaching clinics have a game-changing element: participants emerge not only knowing how to ride bigger and bolder, but also how to fight institutional racism. No, really.

anita naidu catching air on her bike

Rick Meloff, onecutmedia

When I approached her months ago to be part of the Gear Patrol magazine piece I wrote about the people, brands and organizations pushing to diversify the bike world, I was blown away. Naidu’s responses to my questions were some of the most inspiring and enlightening remarks I’d ever encountered. I knew I would not be able to fully showcase them as part of that package, but I resolved to publish a vastly expanded version of the Q&A online. So without further ado, here’s more of the wisdom she shared. I hope it educates and motivates you too.

You have been fighting to make mountain biking more accessible to non-white non-bros for years. What are the main ways you tackle this challenge?

At the beginning it was about showing up. Long before diversity and inclusion were part of the conversation, just lining up at races beside confident white guys was my first way to challenge inherent bias. I was compelled to smash the narrative of what small brown girls are capable of.

Even today, sometimes it is still just about showing up, and I was honored to receive an invite last year to Crankworx Speed and Style in Innsbruck to compete alongside the world’s best. It held special significance, as it was the first time women were invited to compete on that course in Austria.

Once I became the first professional mountain biker of my ethnicity, the natural next step was to use my hard earned insider privilege to tear down barriers. Doing the best for oneself is a limited vision of what we can be, especially knowing other lives can be made better by the way we live ours.

“Just lining up at races beside confident white guys was my first way to challenge inherent bias. I was compelled to smash the narrative of what small brown girls are capable of.”

After working on everything from the global refugee crisis to human slavery to land reform, it became obvious to me that the two biggest drivers of inequality are white supremacy and patriarchy. Living in many different countries and continents allowed me a pan-optic understanding of the global race struggle and how societies fail marginalized people for their most basic needs of belonging and security.

I came to understand that racism and patriarchy must be abandoned if we are to have any hope of tackling universal problems such as access to education and justice, climate change, security and poverty. Dismantling racist structures requires mobilizing communities worldwide and tackling it from every angle. And this influenced my approach — to use every skill in one’s repertoire in fighting injustice.

anita naidu riding a bike downhill

S. Allen

Armed with activism knowledge from being involved with multiple global movements, a humanitarian career and experience in global policy advocacy, I started working on DEI strategies for all kinds of different companies from outdoor and bike brands to tech startups to environmental firms.

In this context, I help groups with anti-racism education, hiring for diversity, retaining diverse hires, establishing anti-racism internal policies and bias interrupters, marketing and branding — essentially helping them navigate the most challenging aspects of DEI.

And those lessons carry over to mountain bike clinics?

When individuals reach their potential it’s not just they who benefit but the world at large. Coaching anti-racism at high-performance bike clinics all over the world has allowed the mountain bike space to become more porous to the importance of diversity. Not only do I get to help participants achieve their mountain bike goals but also channel their stoke into becoming activists, allies and accomplices to the anti-racism movement.

In these clinics, riders are taught how to rip a corner, do wheelies, bunny hop over a root, ride steeps and catch huge air during the day. In the evening they learn about white privilege, institutional racism and how to help effectively dismantle it.

“Riders are taught how to rip a corner, ride steeps and catch huge air during the day. In the evening they learn about white privilege, institutional racism and how to help effectively dismantle it.”

Many of us don’t get the world we so desperately want, but we can work so that future generations do. Mentoring BIPOCs, empowering them to fight back against a negative group identity and for their place in the world and delivering that message to communities worldwide has been a main focus of the past few years — particularly to young women of color from traditional societies. I want them to know that their disadvantages are not a weakness and to see themselves belonging in gravity sports in a way that wasn’t available to me.

Seeing the fruits of many years of work unfold is immensely rewarding. Watching clients transcend tokenism and saviorism — as they learn to use their capital, platform and skills to cultivate an internal culture and product that is far more inclusive — is truly satisfying. Social contagion is powerful and so many riders tell me how much they now influence their families, friends and workplaces with their new awareness.

anita naidu teaching a man to do bike tricks

Courtesy

But I am moved to the very depths of my core when encountering young dark-skinned women who, already properly offended by their circumstances, tell me I’ve ignited the fight in them. Their ambition and refusal to play in margins signals we have every reason to hold a bold vision for the future.

Would you say unconscious biases are the biggest barrier to change? If not, what is?

One of the powerful ways racism has managed to remain so prominent is due to the myths that only the mean are racist, that racism is overt and that it is upheld by just a few small-minded stuck-in-the-past people. Racism masked in everyday politeness is a major barrier to change, as is the belief that the worst of racism is long in the past.

The idea that racism is a personal function rather than structural presents the biggest threat to its toppling. If we were to look at it on an individual basis then of course, there are some exceptions. But racism is how society functions, it’s a foundational feature.

“Racism masked in everyday politeness is a major barrier to change, as is the belief that the worst of racism is long in the past.”

White people are often protected from racial stressors, which results in their discomfort when faced with the true facts of institutional and systemic racism.

This discomfort insists that it is BIPOCs who are causing racial tension by “making everything” about race and suggests that inequality is something we should navigate by ignoring it, rather than calling it out so we can dismantle it. White discomfort is one of the biggest reasons racism exists and it necessitates silencing the voices of BIPOCs.

Discomfort doesn’t kill, but white supremacy does.

How much progress have you seen, over your pro career and over the past year?

Part of the motivation for my pro career stems from a lack of role models. I was inherently cognizant that the choice to go first was unavoidable. But you go first with the hopes that for everyone after you it will be easier. And now many years later, it is.

For many BIPOCs the truth of who they are is denied all the time. Never seeing yourself in mainstream culture shapes your daily life and makes you question if you are missing something fundamental. For years I had the door slammed in my face whenever I brought up anti-racism or DEI in the outdoors or bike industry. I’ve lost count of the number of times brands, companies and riders blatantly stated they weren’t interested in any kind of anti-racism agenda… as recently as a couple of years ago! They insisted that biking and the outdoors are shining examples of inclusive and positive environments, free of racism, even though the majority of people in the industry and those they promote are white.

“Nowadays, there are many young BIPOCs indulging a defiant refusal to be less than what they are. This spirit of resistance is one of the most natural markers of progress.”

Over the years I ignored all those dismissals and went to work setting up my own systems of advocacy. It’s been a huge shift to see the demand for my anti-racism and DEI consulting services exploding both nationally and internationally, from some of the same groups that said a hard no years ago!

Nowadays, due to all those who kept fighting for a seat at the table, there are many young BIPOCs indulging a defiant refusal to be less than what they are. This spirit of resistance is one of the most natural markers of progress.

We are at a racial flashpoint and this is the most allyship the movement has had in centuries. This combined with a new mainstream acceptance of activism has alerted brands and companies that those who don’t embrace anti racism and diversity as a core value will become extinct. During all my years of activism, this is the first time I’ve witnessed industries shift hard and fast.

anita naidu with a group of bikers

Courtesy

In the past, it took a while for companies to take action on climate change, sweatshop labor and fair trade. This particular struggle is animated by the lived experience of those who have been fighting for generations and demanding large-scale cultural change. They are saying “ enough!” to inherited oppression.

An idea that has been slower to gain traction is “Nothing for us without us” — essentially the only way to ensure inclusion of the marginalized is to include their insight. There is still a very long way to go in dismantling white saviorism and white fragility. Until this happens any change will only be cosmetic.

A notable paradigm switch is that bike brands and the outdoor industry in general now recognize who they celebrate is critical. Lionizing the self-seeking and self-directed is part of the problem. What happens in the world affects biking and vice versa, so brands must be committed to reflecting the truth of humanity’s diversity. Their athletes must be anti-racist and be outspoken advocates for change.

There was a lot of lip service paid to BLM and DEI by bike brands last summer. How much follow-through have you seen since then? What still needs to happen?

Diversity and inclusion is not about procuring virtue, it’s about creating fairer, more just systems and processes. The purpose of DEI and anti-racism efforts is to rewrite the social contract and that means a collective heroic effort from all brands.

There needs to be a profound understanding that talent is universal but opportunity is not. If the criteria for excellence was intelligence, discipline and skill, women of color would be part of leadership in all aspects of society, biking and beyond.

We are in the middle of a civil rights movement and this should not be viewed as an opportunity to capitalize on the struggle. The primary motivation for any brand or company should be an ethical urge to serve justice, not to treat diversity as experimental or a trend.

“A piece of advice I always offer is to remember that racism isn’t a conversation; there are no two sides to the discussion.”

If bike companies claim to support diversity activities yet don’t change their internal environments or culture, then it’s just optics, not restorative justice. If diverse hires can’t show up as their authentic selves at their workplace without paying a price or if the complexion of the industry leadership doesn’t broaden, then it’s lip service.

At the end of the day sameness yields sameness — so the most elegant proof that a brand is embracing diversity is when the culture of the leadership changes.

I work with and train numerous companies and organizations to help them understand the difference between performative allyship and genuine allyship. Perfomative allyship doesn’t require building racial stamina and falsely claims to move the needle while upholding structural inequalities. Genuine allyship looks completely different — it empowers BIPOCs.

anita naidu catching air on her bike

Anita Naidu

There is a noticeable difference between the brands that are doing what requires minimal courage and consciousness to do and those that are actually contributing and diversifying in meaningful ways. The perspective should not be, “What can we get from these communities?” but rather “How can we elevate these communities?”

The importance of companies and organizations seeing themselves as critical actors in the anti-racism fight can’t be underestimated. The more they see themselves as contributing agents, the less likely they are to act on greed or power and the less willing they are to accept advantages that come from the mistreatment of others.

A piece of advice I always offer is to remember that racism isn’t a conversation; there are no two sides to the discussion. So brands should not treat anti-racism and diversity education as a box to check but take genuine appreciation in the discarding of racist behaviors. Diversity isn’t the decorative layer but the very foundation.

What gives you hope for the future?

Whenever there is a will to fight and as long as people continue to breathe fire then there is hope. I am a natural optimist and know how important it is to protect that sense of positivity from cynics, because cynicism is the greatest threat to change.

Change arises from the collective power of ordinary people with an extraordinary vision. I find immense hope in knowing that each generation gets it shot at remaking society. The current generation has every capacity to bend the edge of probability because humanity’s greatest achievements are not behind us but ahead of us.

The way a movement changes the establishment is often not felt until many years after its initial inertia. I predict that soon people will be less willing to benefit from systems of oppression and less willing to consume racist ideas.

The best outcome of the current struggle is that we create the conditions for the next generation to rise such that being brown will no longer be seen as a flaw. That we transform this time of historic inequality into inclusion at all levels. Our greatest collective hope is in understanding that while racism may not be your fault, it is everyone’s problem.

A Pro Cyclist Rode Almost 500 Miles of the Tour de France Course in Birkenstocks

The world’s premier cycling race, the Tour de France — or, more simply, Le Tour — is on. This year’s route links 3,414 kilometers of road through 21 stages across the country, from Brittany to the Alps and down the Rhône Valley and up to the Pyrenees before taking a turn northward and ending, as is tradition, on Paris’s Champs-Elysées. It’s a glorious slog that only the world’s best cyclists attempt…and one just rode several hundred kilometers of the route in a pair of Birkenstock sandals.

The sandals in question are Birkenstock’s Arizona Essentials, a version of its iconic hippy two-strap made entirely of EVA, a plastic with the feel of rubber. The advantage the material holds over the traditional cork and leather is that it’s far lighter and waterproof. On its website, Birkenstock recommends wearing them “at the beach, in the garden, or around the gym and after workouts.” Lachlan Morton, a pro cyclist riding for team EF Education-NIPPO, chose to wear his while riding his Cannondale SuperSix Evo across the width of France from Redon to Saint-Amour.

To be clear, Morton isn’t spinning along with the other competitors in the peloton. He’s riding his own “Alt Tour” in which he’ll forgo the aid provided by a support crew, skip the two built-in rest days and ride the entire route, including every transfer — portions of the course between the finish of one stage and the start of the next that cyclists cover by vehicle. Doing so adds more than 2,000 kilometers to Morton’s self-inflicted race.

It’s not simply a stunt, either. Morton is using the Alt Tour to raise money for World Bicycle Relief, which will use the funds to purchase bikes for under-mobilized communities around the world. (Donate to the effort here.)

lachlan morton alt tour

Courtesy

lachlan morton alt tour

Courtesy

Morton opted for Birks on his fifth day of riding to ease some knee pain. Reportedly, they “[worked] wonders” in that respect but gave him blisters — a problem he solved by cutting off the front strap with a pocket knife before riding 250 kilometers of hilly terrain.

On his seventh day of riding, Morton trashed the Arizonas, opting for a more traditional pair of cycling shoes before ascending into the Alps.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from Morton’s ride, maybe it’s that the generations of long-held traditions that form the foundation of a sport aren’t as impenetrable as they seem, that even an exalted contest like the Tour de France could use something of a shakeup, perpetrated by an insider no less. Ride your own tour, and, hell, you do it in whatever shoes you have.

Then again, maybe we’re just reading too deeply into all this. Regardless, Birkenstock’s Arizona Essentials are an ideal sandal for all kinds of adventures. Take it from Morton. (You can track him in real-time here.)

Courtesy

Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA

birkenstock.com

$44.95

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These Rechargeable Batteries Are Perfect for Exploring This Summer

Talking Points:

Pale Blue Earth AA USB Rechargeable Smart Batteries

Pale Blue Earth emerged in 2018 following a realization that advances in technology could enable a better way for customers to meet their battery needs without creating unnecessary waste. Based in Park City, Utah, and surrounded by beautiful mountains and cold snow-fed rivers, Pale Blue Earth is driven to help protect and conserve the wild, the land and the water. The results are products that are high-performing, sustainable and convenient. One of the brand’s most notable products is its AA USB Rechargeable Smart Batteries. To learn more about how these batteries can keep your adventures going longer at no harm to the environment, read on below.


pale blue earth aa batteries charging

Pale Blue Earth

man putting pale blue batteries into device

Pale Blue Earth


1000+ Charge Cycles

The fast-charging lithium battery ensures 1,000+ charge cycles— these will last you season after season. Plus, the batteries are fully charged in two hours or less, so you can head back out on the trail after lunch at one hundred percent.

Built-In LED Light

Pale Blue Earth’s batteries let you know when they are fully charged thanks to a built-in LED charging indicator light. You won’t be stuck wondering if they are ready to go.

Convenient Micro USB Charge Port

Just use the included cable to charge four batteries at the same time, or plug any micro USB cable directly into the battery itself. The flexible charging options make it easy to keep your batteries charged when you’re on the go.


Price: $30

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Gear Patrol Studios

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This High-Tech Upgrade Breathes New Life Into Any Mountain Bike

To say I was skeptical when Archer Components sent me its D1x Trail programmable shifter to try out is the understatement of the year — or at least the month. In truth, the small white box sat on my desk for weeks. Then coronavirus hit and when we vacated the GP office, I left that little box behind.

Around the same time, I got more and more into mountain biking — still one of the great socially distant outdoor activities. And this confluence of events finally got me to appreciate this funky little upgrade.

See, the more I hit the trails, mostly testing the excellent Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9.0 LTD, the more I realized that one of very few beefs I had with the bike was the sometimes clunky shifting. The universe seemed to be saying, hey idiot, why not open that little white box?

So on one of my rare trips to the office, I threw that box in my bag and took it home. Now, as I’ve admitted before, my technical know-how is not exactly robust. But after watching Archer’s overly simple install video, followed by a longer, cheekier South African one, I had a clue what to do. A bit of blood, sweat and gears later, I had replaced the stock mechanical shifting system with this fancy, remote-controlled electrical one.

archer components d1x trail app
The Archer app fine-tunes your derailleur’s movement so every shift is super smooth.

Archer Components

And here’s where things really got interesting, because the coolest thing about Archer’s set-up is the way you program it using the Archer app. Essentially what it lets you do, once you’ve paired the app with the system, is calibrate exactly where the derailleur moves with every shift, micro-adjusting so that the chain sits perfectly on every gear.

How does that fine-tuning play out once you hit the trails? Pretty damn magically. The super-smooth and precise shifting gave me a newfound confidence in my riding, enabling me to tackle up-and-down single-track more aggressively than ever. It also made normal street cycling much more pleasant. That’s huge for me, as I normally ride 13 road miles just to get to my “local” mountain bike park.

But it’s on actual trails where the D1x really shines, living up to the title of this story. If you’re struggling to get motivated to hit them, or just feeling slightly dodgy on them, upgrading from standard shifting to this system is like adding NOS to your bike’s proverbial engine. At the tap of a couple of buttons, you can upshift and downshift, triggering a turbo boost that will get you stoked to rip around.

Archer Components

Granted, the little white box isn’t cheap. The D1x Trail with Standard Remote (the product I tested, which is currently sold out), runs $369. The D1x Trail with Micro-Adjust Remote, which lets you adjust individual gears on the fly, goes for $399 $389. But considering it really does transform your bike, it’s an upgrade worth pondering.

The only pro tip I will add from my own experience is, the night before you’re going to ride, make sure the remote and the shifter are fully charged up. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with just one gear, a decidedly less appealing sort of bike transformation.

Price: $399 $389

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Shopping for Climbing Shoes? Read This Expert Take First

mid section of female boulderer holding climbing shoes, lombardy, italy

Eugenio MarongiuGetty Images

As any climber knows, climbing shoes are a very different beast from just about any other footwear out there. They can also be a bit pricey. No surprise, then, that buying a new pair is not something one should take lightly.

To help you get better, ahem, grip on the situation, we reached out to Matt Ratajczak, Head of Route Setting at BKB Eckington, the new 31,000 square foot Brooklyn Boulders location opening in the DC are later this summer. Check out this quick Q&A and you’re sure to come away with insights that will serve you well when it’s time to pony up.

What’s the number one thing people should keep in mind when buying climbing shoes?

Shoes will feel different after they break in. Leather shoes will stretch more than synthetic shoes. You’ll want to fit your shoes as tight as possible without feeling painful. After about a week or two of climbing (or wearing them at home while you are relaxing before bed) your shoes should feel less stiff and more snug.

climbing shoes buying advice
Matt Ratajczak of Brooklyn Boulders

Courtesy

What’s the biggest mistake people tend to make?

The biggest mistake I typically see people make at the gym is wearing a high-end performance shoe for the entirety of their gym session. There is nothing wrong with owning a pair of the most expensive shoes on the market. However, you should save that fancy thin rubber for your one percent projects! I would recommend warming up, working out and training in a less expensive, longer lasting shoe. In less aggressive shoes, you will be more comfortable, save some money and learn to use your feet more effectively.

A general rule is to shop in the afternoon because your feet expand throughout the day. Does this reasoning apply to climbing shoes?

I personally don’t think this reasoning applies to sizing climbing shoes. If a climbing shoe is sized correctly, it should feel very snug regardless of the time of day. If your feet do expand slightly later in the day, you might find that it’s slightly more difficult to get your shoes on and off. In my experience, my foot has never slipped out (AM climbing) or experienced pain (PM climbing) due to foot expansion.

Anything else to add?

When you are just getting into climbing, start with a comfortable entry level shoe and gradually try out more aggressive shoes. Every company sizes differently. When trying on new shoes — even if it’s a different shoe from the same company — try on multiple sizes to find your preferred fit!

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Yeti’s New Crossroads Duffle Is the Perfect Summer Road Trip Bag

This summer is the summer of weekend road trips. And if you aren’t already planning out a full calendar of weekend adventure jaunts close to home, now is the time to start. Think of them as microadvenutres, a term coined by Alastair Humphreys back in 2015. Whether it’s an off-the-grid car camping excursion, a quick weekend away in the mountains, a trip to the beach or simply a drive on some of America’s greatest roads, microadventures can be a great way to get outdoors and break up the monotony of everyday life.

The gear for each microadventure you undertake will be unique to that trip, but the bag that you pack it all in should be a constant. The best bag for the job is a rugged duffle designed to go anywhere with understated styling — like YETI’s Crossroads. To learn more about what makes it great for your next microadventure, read on below.

YETI CROSSROADS DUFFLE

yeti

Gear Patrol Studios

gps

Gear Patrol Studios

As its name suggests, the YETI Crossroads 40L duffle bag is the perfect companion for a weekend road trip. Like YETI’s other products, the Crossroads is packed with features. Perhaps the most notable upgrade over your standard rugged duffle bag is the foam-lined base and sidewalls. This gives the bag its shape, and prevents it from folding in on itself when packing or unpacking. It sounds simple, but it provides so much utility and helps prevent you from having to dig around for smaller items. In addition, the bag is also fitted with modular compression straps that can be used inside or outside the bag, two interior divider panels for organization and two interior magnetic stash pockets. And if you happen to get it dirty, it’s designed for that, too — it easily cleans up with a little bit of soap and water. Pack up your gear, toss the Crossroads in your car and hit the open road.

Price: $200

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WHERE TO GO

campfire ranch

Campfire Ranch

If you’re based in Denver, CO, you could hardly find a better microadventure than a trip out to Campfire Ranch. Located in Crested Butte, Campfire Ranch offers river-side camping with tons of activities like clinics on how to build a campfire, wine tastings, sunset hikes and more.

    LEARN MORE

    MORE GEAR TO PACK

    yeti

    Gear Patrol Studios

    gps

    Gear Patrol Studios

    • Crossroads 29″ Luggage by YETI $450

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Gear Up for Your Weekend Away with Backcountry

Summer is the time to escape the city and plan a weekend camping at your favorite spot. And if you’re in need of some new gear to maximize your weekend away, check out Backcountry‘s Built By Backcountry Fourth of July sale. For the perfect getaway bag take a look at the 45L Adventure Duffel Pack. If you’re looking to grab a few friends and head to the trail for some mountain biking, make sure you have the Getaway Goat Tailgate Pad to transport your bikes with ease. If you plan to spend your time casting for trout, score a deal on the Backcountry x Simms Flyweight Stockingfoot Pant, or if you prefer to just hang in the lake and need a new suit, the Pecos Water Short has you covered. Whatever you plan to get into this summer, Backcountry has the gear to take your weekends to the next level — and right now it’s on sale for up to 40 percent off. Check out the sale and start planning your trip.

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I Found the Best Way to Combine Exercise and Errands

One of the hallmarks of great gear is the ability to literally change how we do things. Whether it’s a slick turntable that gets us back into vinyl or a transcendent toaster that revitalizes our breakfast routine, such products motivate us to live different, more satisfying lives.

The item doesn’t need to be flashy or fancy though. For instance, I’ve been having a moment lately with a find that costs 60 bucks and is no bigger than a blueberry muffin. It’s Apidura’s Packable Backpack, and it has changed the way I ride my bike and run errands.

More specifically, it has allowed me to dovetail these two activities in a way that was always tricky before. When you go for a long ride, you want to be as lean and mean as possible, with just a couple of water bottles on your tubes and some energy gels, a bike tool, some cash and keys stashed in your jersey pockets. The notion of also shouldering a backpack to pick up some groceries on the way home is totally antithetical.

apidura

TM

As a brand founded by long-distance cyclists, Apidura understands this reality. The London-based outfit has been making streamlined, high-performance saddle, frame and handlebar packs and bags — for cyclists who ride much farther than I do — since 2013.

So it’s no surprise that this pack is so discreet and handy. It weighs less than four ounces and, in its condensed, muffin-sized form, you can easily attach it to your top tube using the Velcro strap and forget all about it during your ride.

Later, when you are rounding toward home and want to stop by the shops to pick up, say a copy of Diamond Dogs on vinyl or a loaf of sourdough or some Dale’s Pale Ale to reward yourself for that high-wattage half-century, the pack deploys into a surprisingly spacious, 13-liter backpack.

Kind-of-Obsessed-Apidura-Bag-gear-patrol-ambiance

It’s got some smart features too, including a highly adjustable chest strap, a Velcro-lined rolltop and two stretchy outer pockets that are perfect for stashing a couple 19.2-oz cans of Dale’s when space gets tight. (I know this because I’ve tried, all in the interest of thorough testing, of course.)

When you’re all loaded up, you can simply throw the pack on and complete your ride. It is also waterproof, so your purchases will be safe from raindrops, and it has reflective graphics, so you’ll be safe from darkness.

If you’d like to go even more streamlined, Apidura also makes a 7-liter Packable Musette ($44) that condenses even smaller and expands out to kind of a small messenger bag. But I’ll continue to swear by the backpack, which has become a staple of my long rides — and is always ready when I need it.

Price: $60

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The Best New Outdoor Gear Releases of June 2021

June might herald summer’s official start, but everyone knows that the season begins whenever the leaves pop, the sun cranks the temperatures up and the days last longer than the nights.

Hopefully, those with hearts set on camping during the year’s warmest season didn’t wait until the solstice to stock up on gear; according to data from NPD Group, a consumer analytics firm, e-commerce sales of camping gear were up 50 percent in 2020. Shortages and supply chain issues persist, but that doesn’t mean brands aren’t continuing to unearth new items for getting outside this summer. Just don’t wait too long to buy.

Forrest Tool Company MAX® Multipurpose Tool

forrest tool company toolkit

Forrest Tool Company

Presented by Forrest Tool Company

We all know that feeling of trying to get a job done and realizing last minute you don’t have the right tool. With the MAX® Multipurpose Tool from Forrest Tool Company, that feeling will be one of the past. You will have the right tool on hand every time, without having to pack an entire shed. With eight commonly used tool-heads in one light-weight, easy-to-carry and easy-to-stow case, the MAX® makes it simple to have the tools you need no matter where you go. Whether you are camping, spending a day in the woods or just getting stuff done around the house, the MAX® has you covered.

Price: $250

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Sitka Kelvin Aerolite 30

sitka kelvin aerolite 30

Sitka

Remember the Snuggie? Or Poler’s Napsack? Think of Sitka’s Aerolite 30 like their technical, high-performance cousin. Sitka gave the bag zippered armholes and a bottom that you can stick your feet out of so that you can operate in the cold without ever climbing out.

Price: $399

LEARN MORE

Gregory Plus Size Collection

gregory plus size collection

Gregory

Gregory has been making some of the best backpacking bags available for a long time, and now they’re available in a broader range of sizes. The company worked with Unlikely Hikers to nail down new sizing and designs on new shoulder harnesses and hip belts to make the bags comfortable and functional.

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GORUCK Jedburgh

goruck jedburgh

GORUCK

Named for the elite Allied soldiers who operated behind enemy lines during World War II, Goruck’s new multi-purpose boot is built for strenuous workouts and adventures. Goruck made it with a material it calls Deception Canvas, so named because it’s not actually canvas but rather a recycled tight-weave polyester that’s stronger and dries faster.

Price: $175

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Mountain Hardwear PCT Pack

mountain hardwear pct pack

Mountain Hardwear

Named for the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, the PCT is a full-featured backpacking pack for long-distance hiking. It boasts a breathable trampoline-style back panel and a pivoting hipbelt that aids load balancing as you move, plus lots of pockets, sleeves, exterior gear loops and access points. It comes in 55- and 70-liter volumes.

Price: $280+

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Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX

arc'teryx acrux lt gtx

Arc’teryx

Initially slated for fall, Arc’teryx surprise-released this hiking boot, which features a lightweight construction (22.9 ounces per boot) for faster hiking with full support. It’s stacked with a carbon plate for rigidity and a Gore-Tex liner for waterproofing.

Price: $530

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Allied Cycle Works Echo

allied cycle works echo bike

Allied Cycle Works

The most notable element of Allied’s new bike is the flip-chip system that lets you adjust the bike’s geometry on the fly to optimize it for gravel or road riding. There are plenty more reasons to consider taking out a loan to buy one — read about those here.

Price: $6,000+

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Rapha Trail Hip Pack

rapha trail hip pack

Rapha

In building a full collection of mountain biking apparel, cycling brand Rapha also created a range of trail accessories that includes this three-liter hip pack. The bag has two water bottle holders, a drawcord for securing unwanted layers and plenty of organized internal storage.

Price: $80

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Foehn MTN

foehn mtn gear

Foehn

Foehn, which came onto the scene with some of our favorite rock climbing pants, is also getting into the growing mountain bike scene with a collection made up of pants, shorts and a tee. All are made with comfortable, durable fabrics, and all are stylish enough to wear around town after your ride (depending how muddy you get).

Price: $75+

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Beringia Octa Anorak

beringia octa anorak

Beringia

Beringia built the Octa for cool-weather activity with a light amount of body-mapped, gridded fleece insulation that wicks and dries quickly. It has a front pocket, adjustable waist and an asymmetrical zipper.

Price: $260

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Goal Zero Venture 35

goal zero venture 35

Backcountry

Goal Zero updated its highly portable power bank to be dustproof and waterproof and gave it more capacity and USB-C compatibility to boot.

Price: $70

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North St. Bags Venture Pannier

north st bags venture pannier

North St. Bags

If you’re just getting into bikepacking or adopted bike commuting during the pandemic, know that panniers are the best way to carry lots of gear on your ride. North St. Bags makes the venture with repurposed sailcloth, so it’s waterproof and durable. It’s a snap to mount and unmount too.

Price: $180

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Snow Peak Shimo Tumbler

snow peak shimo tumbler

Snow Peak

With the Shimo, Snow Peak turns its vacuum-insulated drinkware expertise to one beverage in particular: beer.

Price: $40

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Chaco x Thomas Rhett

chaco x thomas rhett sandals

Chaco

Chaco teamed up with country singer Thomas Rhett to make some limited-edition sandals with a one-off strap pattern that alludes to one of his favorite pastimes, fly fishing.

Price: $60+

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Filson x Danner Trail 2650

filson x danner trail 2650

Filson

Another collab to take note of this month is between Filson and Danner, both of which have reputations for making rugged yet stylish gear, on a pair of mid-height hiking boots.

Price: $198

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How the Right Sunglasses Saved a Father-Son Fishing Trip

I’ve been testing Costa’s polarized Spearo sunglasses, a suave tortoiseshell frame set with green mirror polarized glass lenses, and I’m head over heels. After a couple of road trips, a handful of hikes and 20-plus days on the river, these casual adventure shades have become my all-time favorites.

The fit, look and optics have combined to win my affection. The castor oil-derivative bio-resin frames (points for sustainability!) are slightly oversized. And the easygoing style is underlined by a notched nose bridge and sculpted logo-embossed arms. The fit is true medium. Grippy nose pads and inner arms have kept these shades secure on the sweatiest of days. Each temple is perforated with a tiny hole, so you can attach Croakies and save the Spearos from being sacrificed to the river gods.

And on a recent father-son fishing trip, my Costas were the hero we needed to save us from an empty line.

A trout darts to the surface of the cerulean creek — a tiny brown torpedo materializing from nowhere. The fish wallops my dad’s dry fly and, upon discerning duplicity, instantly spits it out and disappears. I let out an inarticulate, garbled groan, equal parts excitement and despair. Taking my constipated caveman yodel as a signal to strike, my dad yanks the rod a second too late, slingshotting a fishless fly into the air.

“When you see a fish take the fly, you’ve got to set the hook,” I tell him for the third time, heart pounding at the near miss. “Immediately. They’re quick and I can’t yell fast enough.”

“I just can’t see the fly,” confesses my father, shrugging sheepishly. It’s his first day of fly fishing, and he’s doing remarkably well. He hasn’t caught a fish yet, but he hasn’t lost a fly to the overhanging tree branches, either. After a quick lesson, he’s getting the hang of it. The fish are biting, too. He just can’t see them.

“Here,” I say, removing my Spearos and handing them carefully to my dad. “The green lenses will help. But please be careful, I love these things.” I’m a fan of the glass lenses. Not only do they offer unrivaled optical quality, but they also have a welcome heft to them – in stark contrast to cheap, flimsy gas station knockoffs. Available in both glass and cheaper plastic, Costa’s premium 580 lenses filter out yellow light while amplifying reds, greens and blues, all while defending against UV and High-Energy Blue Light. While I’ve not put these lenses through any lab tests to support Costa’s technical claims, both my dad and I have been thoroughly impressed with the Spearo’s optics where it counts the most: on the river.

We trade, I put his sunglasses on and snort. His brown-lensed shades darken the scene, muddling colors, whereas the polarized green Costas add a crispness, allowing one to easily distinguish between the latte-colored foam and the tiny, feathered, beige-colored fly drifting downstream.

Sure enough, within ten minutes, my dad hooks an eight-inch rainbow — his first-ever fish on the fly. A whoop escapes my lips. He lands the trout, grinning like a little kid, and I can’t help but feel that our roles, at least for a moment, have been reversed.

Price: $189

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The 7 Best Headlamps for Any Adventure

Keeping your hands free while lighting the trail on your next outdoor adventure is a must. And while that flashlight duct-taped to your head might be a wallet-friendly solution, there are much more elegant and functional products out there. When you’re out on the trail at night, whether you planned to be or not, your headlamp becomes the most important part of your kit. You could have the best backpack, or the best hiking boots, but without a headlamp you might as well stay at home. Whether you’re a backcountry skier gearing up for your next heli-skiing trip or just looking to walk the dog at night, these headlamps will light the way.

Editor’s Picks

More Great Headlamps

    Understanding Headlamp Specs

    We’ve outlined the key specs for each headlamp in this guide, but it’s important to know how to read them correctly. In a store, a headlamp will typically be displayed with its lumens front-and-center on its packaging. This is slightly deceiving, and you wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that the number of lumens a headlamp is capable of emitting is equivalent to its overall power. This is true, to an extent.

    These specs refer to light emitted by the headlamp at its most powerful setting. The catch is that many headlamps have a burst mode, which may only be operational for a short period. So, a headlamp claiming 500 lumens may only emit that much light for a period as short as 10 seconds.

    The good news is, headlamp manufacturers are generally very transparent with this information, providing detailed charts and graphs on how long a light will last at a given strength. In this guide, we detail each headlamp’s maximum light output as a measurement of lumens in its most powerful setting. Similarly, maximum runtime refers to how long each light will last on its lowest setting.

    Now, on to the list.

    Best Overall

    Courtesy

    Black Diamond Spot 350

    backcountry.com

    $39.95

    Black Diamond has intermittently updated its crowd-pleasing Spot headlamp over recent years, but its core attribute, simplicity, remains. The newest version, the Spot 350 uses three AAA batteries (which you’ll be able to find pretty much anywhere on the planet), and it’s fully waterproof to just over a meter. The main light now has 350 lumens, emitting a beam to a claimed range of 86 meters (about 282 feet) and is easily dimmable. There’s also a red night vision setting.

    Black Diamond equipped the Spot with its PowerTap Technology, which lets you swap between two modes quickly by tapping the side of the lamp housing. It’s a feature that strays toward gimmicky but is actually very useful for reading and cooking, among other things, particularly when the alternative is pressing a button multiple times to cycle through all the modes. Another brilliant feature is a lock mode that prevents the light from turning on in your backpack and killing the batteries (you only forget to use that function once). But the great part about the Spot is that for all this functionality, plus Black Diamond’s recent updates, it’s only $40.

    Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
    Max Output: 350 lumens
    Max Runtime: 120 hours
    Weight: 3.9 ounces

    Upgrade Pick

    Courtesy

    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

    rei.com

    $69.95

    Petzl’s Actik Core headlamp features an easy-to-locate, large push button that toggles the lamp off and on and allows access to a flood or mixed beam (distance) light modes, both of which are dimmable, plus a red LED that can operate in solid or strobe mode. The headband reflective, which is great for running, and it can be washed easily after use. Petzl also gave the Actik Core the ability to get its power from either three AAA batteries or the company’s rechargeable Core unit, which is a nice bit of versatility. It’s not as waterproof as our top pick — this one is only splashproof, not submersible — but it is a bit brighter and just as versatile.

    Power Source: 3 AAA batteries or 1250 mAh Core rechargeable battery (included)
    Max Output: 450 lumens
    Max Runtime: 130 hours
    Weight: 2.8 ounces

    Best Affordable Headlamp

    Courtesy

    Petzl Tikkina

    amazon.com

    $19.95

    You can’t expect much of a headlamp for $20, but you get quite a bit from Petzl’s Tikkina. The headlamp has a max brightness of 250 lumens and can function for 120 hours on its lowest setting (though that’s only six lumens, just enough to see a little bit). It has three white light modes but no red light. It’s also splashproof and can run on Petzl’s USB-rechargeable Core battery — all great features given the price.

    Power Source: 3 AAA batteries or 1250 mAh Core rechargeable battery (not included)
    Max Output: 250 lumens
    Max Runtime: 120 hours
    Weight: 3 ounces

    Best High-Power Headlamp

    Courtesy

    BioLite HeadLamp 750

    bioliteenergy.com

    $99.95

    BioLite’s HeadLamp 750 is the brightest light on this list, but lumens aren’t the only thing it has going for it; this headlamp is the most feature-rich we’ve tested. It has eight light modes: spot, flood, mixed, strobe, burst, red flood, rear red, rear red strobe (yes, this headlamp has a back light mounted to its battery pack). It’s splashproof, charges via USB and locks off to protect against accidental power-on.

    But those are its more standard features. Unique to the HeadLamp 750 is Constant Mode, which lets you override the gradual dimming that most headlamps use to maintain brightness and battery life over time so that you can operate at higher lumen outputs — it can run at 500 lumens for two hours, for instance, or 250 for four. Then there’s Run Forever Mode, which lets you attach the headlamp to an external battery pack for continuous operation. None of this is to mention the integrated design of its lamp and strap, which is the most comfortable on this list.

    Power Source: USB rechargeable 3000 mAh li-ion battery
    Max Output: 750 lumens (Burst Mode only)
    Max Runtime: 150 hours
    Weight: 5.3 ounces

    Best Headlamp for Running

    Courtesy

    BioLite HeadLamp 200

    bioliteenergy.com

    $44.95

    Most of these headlamps work well enough for the occasional run, and BioLite’s higher-output HeadLamp 750 has the ideal feature set for ultra running thanks to its Run Forever Mode. But for general-purpose running, we like its dimmer HeadLamp 200. The primary reason? Comfort. This headlamp is super lightweight at 1.75 ounces, and its primary component is integrated into its fabric strap and nearly flat, which gives it a no-bounce edge over other options we tested. It’d be even better with a rear light, but most running apparel comes with reflective detailing, so we’re comfortable with the tradeoff.

    Power Source: USB rechargeable 700 mAh li-ion battery
    Max Output: 200 lumens
    Max Runtime: 40 hours
    Weight: 1.75 ounces

    Best Modular Headlamp

    Courtesy

    Princeton Tec Snap Headlamp

    amazon.com

    $39.99

    Princeton Tec is well known for its high-output lights, but the Snap makes its case through an innovative modular construction. The light unit connects to the strap with a magnet, which allows you to quickly disengage the Snap to use it as a standalone lantern or a bike light (with its included mount accessories). The modular construction doesn’t diminish the Snap’s stats either – it has three modes, dimming capability and an IPX4 waterproof rating.

    Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
    Max Output: 300 lumens
    Max Runtime: 155 hours
    Weight: 3.5 ounces

    Best Headlamp Alternative

    Courtesy

    BioLite TraveLight 135

    bioliteenergy.com

    $39.95

    Camp lighting usually boils down to two options: headlamp or lantern. BioLite’s PowerLight Mini is a little bit of both. Unlike the cylindrical form of most lanterns, it’s a rectangle. It has a pivoting metal clip that can act as both a hanger or kickstand. You can also use that clip to attach the TraveLight 135 to a shirt or pocket, though, which is why we’re pointing it out on this list. No, it’s not a headlamp, but you can use it similarly. Like some of the great lights on this list, it’s affordable, offers various brightness settings, and can even be used as a backup battery to charge the tech accessories you might bring with you camping.

    Power Source: USB Rechargeable 1350 mAh Li-on
    Max Output: 135 lumens
    Max Runtime: 52 hours
    Weight: 2.82 ounces

10 Dream Mountain Bikes and the Colorado Destinations to Match

From smooth alpine singletrack and rowdy desert chunk to just about everything in between, Colorado is a wonderland for mountain bikers. You’ll find great fat tire riding in every region of the Centennial State. But where to go and what type of bike to ride? This guide answers both of those questions as you look to plan your trip in search of some of the best singletrack in the country. Be sure to order your bike well before your intended trip, as finding a new bike these days is tougher than riding a double black diamond your first day out — but it’s well worth the wait.

Before you go, be sure to familiarize yourself with Care For Colorado principles, such as yielding to uphill bikers (they need the momentum), sticking to marked trails, silencing your cell phone and leaving the wild as you found it. These points may sound like common sense, but with a little teamwork, we can all make sure everyone is able to enjoy the trails the way they were intended.

Yeti SB140

yeti sb140

Yeti Cycles/Ross Bell

The smaller 27.5-inch wheels of the Yeti SB140 are perfect for tight and techy turns. With 140mm of rear-wheel travel and 160mm up front, this highly-regarded trail bike can capably handle just about any big drop or chunky rock garden. You’ll also be flying Colorado colors, as Yeti’s headquarters is located in Golden. (While visiting the historic former gold rush town, swing by fellow MTB brand Commencal to check out their impressive line of DH, enduro, trail and e-bikes.)

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Where to Ride It

grand junction

Visit Grand Junction

Grand Junction: Though just a dozen miles east of Fruita, Grand Junction’s Lunch Loops Trail System offers a decidedly unique (and challenging) mountain biking experience. With just a few exceptions, the trails here are rough, rocky and rowdy, requiring advanced skills and capable gear. No wonder bike companies like DT Swiss, MRP and Rocky Mounts have chosen this area to set up shop. If their products can survive here, they can survive anywhere. For a true Lunch Loops classic, shuttle or pedal up paved Little Park Road to the top of the Ribbon Trail, then relish screaming down a huge expanse of grippy slickrock, before diving into several miles of technical singletrack. Adrenaline junkies can also soon head to the top of nearby Grand Mesa, then plummet down what will be a 32-mile, 6,000-foot joyride known as the Palisade Plunge. Phase 1 opened in late May, and includes the lower 17 miles beginning at Lands End Road. The remainder is slated to open later this summer, completing Colorado’s newest bucket-list mountain bike experience.


Santa Cruz Tallboy

santa cruz tallboy

Santa Cruz Bicycles

With 120mm of rear-wheel travel, 130mm up front, and an impressively efficient VPP suspension design, the lightweight Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er provides an ideal balance between uphill acumen and downhill capability.

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Where to Ride It

breckenridge

Breck Epic/Devon Balet

Breckenridge: Tucked between towering mountains to its east and west, this historic mining town turned four-season resort destination boasts hundreds of miles of serpentine singletrack (and one of the best cross-country stage races in the world: the Breck Epic). Just make sure you bring your climbing legs, or an experienced guide. The town resides at 9,600 feet above the sea and nearly all trails head up from there. For a true local’s classic, park at the Tiger Dredge Trailhead northeast of town, then spin up the dirt road for several miles before hooking into the famed Colorado Trail. A tough climb awaits, but the reward is a rollicking fast downhill all the way back to your car.


Moots Womble

moots womble bike

Moots

With a slack’ish 67-degree headtube angle, compliant titanium frame, dropper post and 140mm suspension fork, the Moots Womble is the perfect “trail” hardtail for ever-playful terrain. The Womble is also Colorado-made, handcrafted at Moots headquarters in Steamboat Springs.

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Where to Ride It

phils world cortez

City of Cortez/Paul Adams

Phil’s World (Cortez): Located on a desert mesa three miles east of Cortez on the north side of US Highway 160, this famed trail system is one of the state’s most popular early season riding destinations — as it typically emerges from winter’s grip months ahead of Colorado’s more mountainous regions. Most of this 39-mile network is smooth and fast, but there are occasional slickrock segments just to keep you honest. It’s a perfect locale for beginner and intermediate riders looking to hone their skills on ever-swooping singletrack.


Revel Rascal

revel rascal bike

Revel Bikes

With company in Carbondale, Colorado, Revel Bikes understands what works best in their mountainous backyard. The 130mm rear/140mm front suspension Revel Rascal is a fast and nimble 29er that can grind up myriad steep climbs, and then soak up the roots and rocks on the way back down. It features the Canfield Balance Formula suspension design (another Colorado-based company) that aims to maximize the amount of time you spend pedaling in the suspension’s sweet spot.

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Where to Ride It

crested butte biking

Jason Sumner

Crested Butte: This superbly scenic mountain town in Central Colorado is blessed with more than 450 miles of prime alpine singletrack. It’s also one of the state’s premier wildflower viewing destinations. Top trail choices include: Lupine, Lower Loop and Tony’s for beginners; Trail 401, Snodgrass and Strand Hill for intermediates; and Doctor Park, Teocalli Ridge and Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman’s for more advanced riders looking for a challenge.


Scott Spark 900

scott spark 900 bike

Scott

A true do-it-all bike, the Scott Spark is equally at home on all-day explorations or blazing fast cross-country race days. Its 130mm of front and 120mm of rear suspension coupled with a dropper post and 67.2-degree head tube angle allow the Spark to efficiently scamper up any climb, but still provide enough squish to navigate moderately technical descents. And it boasts SRAM’s groundbreaking wireless electronic AXS drivetrain that’s simple to set up and adjust.

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Where to Ride It

biking in del norte

Kristi Mountain Sports

Del Norte: One of the state’s nascent mountain bike hot spots, this small town in south-central Colorado has quickly gained acclaim for its ever-expanding trail system that includes alpine and desert ecosystems. Newcomers can start at the Stone Quarry trails to get their bearings, then head to the more challenging Penitente Canyon zone. Del Norte is also home to increasingly famous Bishop’s Rock, a 40-acre slickrock playground that has everything from mellow rolling terrain to white knuckle jumps and drops. It’s basically a playground for mountain bikes.


Specialized Stumpjumper

specialized stumpjumer bike

Specialized Bicycles

For expert terrain, a true trail bike like the Specialized Stumpjumper is the way to go. With 130mm of rear-wheel travel, 140mm up front and a well-sorted new ground-up suspension design that offers improved performance whether you’re climbing or descending, this bike can get you to the top of any mountain, and then let you crush the descent.

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Where to Ride It

biking in durango

Hank Blum Photography for Durango Trails

Durango: The diversity in trail experience in and around Durango, which has 300 miles of singletrack within a 30-mile radius of downtown, is thrilling. Directly adjacent to town are the Horse Gulch, Overend Mountain Park and Animas Mountain trail systems, each offering a unique version of high desert riding, with smile-inducing swoopy sections interspersed with rowdy rock gardens. Or head into the nearby high country and hook up with one of several sections of the Colorado Trail where vast panoramas and classic alpine terrain are the norm. You can also head to nearby Purgatory Resort, which operates a downhill, lift-accessed bike park during the summer.


Ibis Ripley

ibis ripley bike

Ibis Bikes

Though the Ibis Ripley has just 120mm of rear-wheel travel and a 130mm fork, this exceptionally versatile 29er trail bike punches far above its weight. It’s nimble and snappy enough to lean in tight banked berms, but can also soak up bigger hits when asked.

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Where to Ride It

biking in fruita

Go Fruita

Fruita: A prime example of what mountain biking can do for a community, what once was a sleepy farming town has morphed into an internationally renowned mountain biking destination that attracts riders from around the world. You’ll need at least two days to get the full Fruita experience. Start at the 18 Road Trail System a few miles north of town, where you’ll enjoy many miles of smooth fast fun. This is also a great place for beginners and kids, who will love doing laps on the beginner-rated Kessel Run Trail. On Day 2 head west on I-70 to the Kokopelli Loops, geared toward intermediate and expert riders. Or, check out Horsethief Bench, which has everything from fast and flowy singletrack to technical ledge drops. It also avails superb views of the Colorado River, so stop along the way to soak in the scenery.


Giant Anthem

giant anthem bike

Giant Bicycles

You’ll have a blast carving in and out of Aspen trees on mountains aboard the Giant Anthem, a purpose-built 29er cross-country race bike that’s designed for speed and efficiency.

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Where to Ride It

biking in steamboat springs

Steamboat Springs Chamber/Noah Wetzel

Steamboat Springs: Dubbed Bike Town USA for its all-encompassing embrace of two-wheeled fun, this four-season resort destination in northern Colorado features hundreds of miles of singletrack and one of the state’s premier bike parks. Cross-country riding is the main attraction here, and there’s no better place than Emerald Mountain, which is an easy pedal from town and has approximately 45 miles of trail suitable for all skill levels. Experts will love the Steamboat Stinger loop, which gets its name from the annual XC race, and includes 27 miles of swooping singletrack and nearly 3,500 feet of climbing.


Guerilla Gravity Gnarvana

guerilla gravity gnarvana bike

Guerilla Gravity

If you plan on testing yourself on more challenging terrain, you’ll need a full-face helmet, arm and knee pads, as well as a bike that’s up to the task. The recently launched (and Denver-made) Guerilla Gravity Gnarvana is just such a bike. With 160mm of rear-wheel travel and a 170mm fork, this burly 29er is ready for anything you can throw at it.

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Where to Ride It

biking in trestle bike park

Trestle Bike Park

Trestle Bike Park (Winter Park): With more than 40 miles of lift-serviced terrain, America’s premier bike park has something for everyone. There are enough expert trails to satiate even the most accomplished freeriders, plus beginner and intermediate trails for those new to the bike park experience. Trestle also boasts a certified bike park school that offers programs with experienced coaches who teach everything from basic skills to expert-level tricks. While you’re in the area, check out the rest of the Fraser River Valley, which has upwards of 600 miles of cross-country singletrack. No wonder the area is known by many as Mountain Bike Capital, USA.


Alchemy Ronin

alchemy ronin bike

Alchemy Bicycles

Handmade in Denver, the Alchemy Ronin is a gravel-specific carbon fiber bike designed to take the sting out of rough roads, but not compromise efficiency when grinding up steep climbs. It also has clearance for up to 45mm tires.

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Where to Ride It

biking in colorado's gravel roads

Roll Massif/Justin Balog

Colorado’s Gravel Roads: Besides being blessed with some of the world’s best singletrack, Colorado boasts hundreds — if not thousands — of miles of dirt and gravel roads all waiting to be explored aboard one of the new breed of drop-bar gravel bikes that have become so popular in recent years. Start your adventure by pulling out a map and letting your imagination run wild, or sign up for a gravel cycling event such as SBT Gravel in Steamboat Springs, Wild Horse Gravel in De Beque or the brand new Rad Dirt Fest in Trinidad. Steamboat is one of the marquee pro-level gravel races in the country (amateurs are welcome, too), Wild Horse delivers rugged adventure in one of the state’s least populous regions and the brand new Rad event includes three different bike distances plus 50k and marathon running races.


With Its New Untethered Kit, Patagonia Reveals Its First Camping Stove

Patagonia is better known for its Synchilla fleeces and Baggies shorts than it is for gear. Gear in the sense of equipment — tents, stoves, headlamps, racks, etc. Yes, the company makes some of the best backpacks available for hiking, climbing and skiing, and its rugged Black Hole duffels deserve a place in every closet (perhaps in multiple sizes). But excepting those, the closest it’s come to gear in the non-apparel sense is its sleeping bags, which it only began producing in recent years.

Until now, with the launch of its Untethered Kit, a new collection of gear for ultra-minimal outdoor pursuits.

As is its intended use, the Untethered Kit is minimal in scope. It consists of four products: a 30-liter backpack, a lightweight sleeping bag, a cooking pot and the company’s first-ever camping stove.

The backpack and sleeping bag seem like pared-down versions of products Patagonia already makes — the pack is as simple as it gets with shoulder straps inspired by climbing harnesses, zero exterior pockets (though lots of daisy chain attachment points) and a cinch-and-buckle lid while the sleeping bag is minimally insulated with PrimaLoft Gold and lacks a hood and zipper.

But the stove and pot are unique to the brand’s wares. The stove is three stainless steel pieces — a base, a central cone and top support for cookware — that total 9.2 ounces. Oh, and it burns wood. The ethos of the Untethered Kit is to “put the least amount of stuff between you and your experience,” which, in this case, means cooking over an enclosed flame using deadfall for fuel instead of canisters of isobutane. According to Patagonia, its Wood Burning Stove can bring a liter of water to boil in roughly 16 minutes.

The pot, which Patagonia teamed up with MiiR to build, is designed to work seamlessly with the stove. It’s made of stainless steel and has a built-in heat exchanger that makes the most out of a flame. It also has a silicone lid, and the stove nests inside of it for easy packing.

The Untethered Kit seems like a departure of sorts for Patagonia, which is so well-known for innovations in technical apparel design and sustainability. But really, it’s more of a going-back — Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder, wholeheartedly believed in a minimalist approach to outdoor adventure when he was climbing first ascents of peaks all over the world not so many decades ago.

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Why You Should Never Bring a Spork Camping

I was seven years old when I first encountered a spork. My mom, brother and I piled into a car and drove a few towns over to reach the closest multi-screen movie theater to watch The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version, not the original with Hayley Mills). We caught an earlier showing and then headed down the street to the Kentucky Fried Chicken-Taco Bell combo restaurant, where I chose The Colonel over the chihuahua and, to accompany a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, I received a spork.

The novelty came encased in plastic, and its form was neither adequate for harvesting the final remains of potato substance from the corners of its styrofoam container nor for piercing and gripping greasy chicken. Still, I don’t recall feeling disappointed. (Hours later though, I awoke in the middle of the night and vomited.)

My next spork memory is shallower in the archives; Age: 19; Location: student center, The University of Vermont. Walking through the complex, I passed a table where environmentally minded students sold sporks as an alternative to disposable cutlery. These weren’t anything like the flimsy impotence I first used at KFC; they were colorful, curvy and made of a harder, dishwasher-safe plastic. They also weren’t really sporks, at least not according to Merriam or Webster — instead of a single tine-equipped spoon-shaped end, this “spork” had implements on both ends: one was a spoon, the other was a fork with small, insubstantial serrations on one edge — a feeble attempt at adding a knife to the equation.

I paid five dollars for this spork, and I kept it in a small pocket of my backpack. I used this spork all the time; to eat yogurt, to eat soup, to eat mac and cheese. What do these foods have in common? You eat them with a spoon, and that’s what I did, because the fork end of this utensil was nearly as useless as the disposable version of my first encounter. (Plus, twirling the thing around 180 degrees to eat with the end I had been using as a handle always seemed unhygienic.) One day, as I attempted to stir a jar of organic peanut butter, this spork snapped in half.

After that utensil fail, I swore off sporks for good. I bought an ultralight spoon for backpacking, but would often end up swiping a piece of standard flatware from the kitchen drawer before taking off on a trip. That all changed when Gerber released the Compleat, a multi-tool take on campsite cutlery.

Instead of combining fork and spoon into one ineffective jack-of-two-trades, Gerber kept them separate to perform at their individual best. The spoon is slightly angular, and perfect for probing the corners of pots and bowls; the fork is spork-reminiscent, but its longer tines keep it just forky enough for stabbing hunks of food.

Gerber Compleat

avantlink.com

$29.00

Gerber didn’t stop there, though. The Compleat also comes with a small tool that works as a bottle opener, a can opener and a vegetable peeler. And then there’s the multi-use spatula that has a rubberized edge perfect for scraping clean pots, skillets and bowls (to get that last bit of pancake batter, for instance) and a serrated side that’s surprisingly sharp (but still not as good as a knife, oh well). At the other end of this spatula is where the Compleat all comes together, literally: all three of the other utensils nest neatly together to form one compact tool.

But invert either the fork or spoon to face the spatula, and you have one final item — a pair of tongs. Now, I’m likely more enthusiastic about cutlery innovations than most, but I genuinely believe that this small additional feature makes the Compleat a real winner. Tongs are precisely the type of thing that you never want to pack; they rarely come in small sizes, and their application is specific to cooking particular foods, so you can usually get away with leaving them behind. But when you do need them — for grabbing sausages off a grill, for serving sauteed vegetables — dammit do they come in handy.

On a recent weekend, I drove to New York’s Catskill Mountains to go camping. Knowing the hike from the parking lot to the campsite was a short one, I packed with comfort in mind (tents, two hammocks and a camp chair for everyone!). But when it came time to cook dinner (burritos), I realized that I hadn’t brought a single spoon, fork or cooking utensil of any kind. But I had the Compleat stashed in a backpack, and I used nearly every one of its functions to prepare the meal. It opened a can of refried beans, it stirred pork and veggies, it retrieved a roasted pepper from the coals of our campfire, and it doled out salsa. Our small group agreed, perhaps slightly under the influence of a bottle of whiskey, that they were among the best homemade burritos we’d ever had.

Price: $29

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The 10 Best Camping Tents of 2021

Buying a tent is like buying a home, in miniature. A great one will have amenities that complement your outdoor ambitions, plus enough real estate to be comfortable. The best tent for you will balance weight, space and features appropriate for the adventures ahead.

Choose an ultralight tent for backpacking and a compact one that’s easy to attach to your rig for bikepacking. If you venture out in rainy climes, a gear vestibule or two can mean the difference between a soggy pack and a dry one.

Good ventilation is key to sound sleep for most people. Your tent should be able to withstand the weather where you’re using it. That’s not just rain and wind, but also heat.

With those simple guidelines in mind, here are some of our favorites.

Best Overall Tent

Backcountry Gear

Big Agnes Tigerwall UL 3 Solution Dyed Tent

This super-light three-season backpacking tent sets up with a single pole, but it still has room to sleep three. Dual doors each have gear-storing vestibules, and internal space is enhanced with structured foot-end corners for more usable space between your feet and the tent wall. Media pockets hold phones and other devices, while oversized additional ones hold everything else. The planet-friendly, solution-dyed fabric is UV fade-resistant, and all seam taping is waterproof and solvent-free.

Trail weight: 2.75 pounds
Pack size: 6″ x 19″
Floor area: 38 square feet
Sleeps:
3

Best Upgrade Tent

Tentsile

Tentsile Connect 2-Person Tree Tent (3.0)

tentsile.com

$549.00

A double-bay platform sleeping area that hangs from the trees, Tensile’s Connect is a tent, a hammock and a tarp in one. Its bug mesh dome can be fully unzipped, though it also comes with a rainfly to keep out the weather. Numerous internal and under-tent pockets organize gear, while three attachment points ensure doesn’t sag. The full mesh is cool while the full tarp is protective, and the hanging nature makes for great views. Caveat emptor: appropriately spaced trees not included.

Trail weight: 20.8 pounds
Pack size: 22″ x 13″ x 9.85″
Floor area: 52 square feet
Sleeps:
2

Best Budget Tent

Coleman

Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent

Coleman amazon.com

$63.99

You can’t beat the price of the made-for-summer Sundome. Oversized windows and a ground vent keep fresh air circulating. When you’re hiding from a squall, the rainfly, welded corners and inverted seams will keep the water out. The two-person version shown here fits a queen-sized air bed. There’s no vestibule, but there are also 3-, 4- and 6-person options for stashing extra gear or accommodating larger groups, with the biggest one as cheap as $99 if you aren’t picky about color.

Trail weight: 6.38 pounds
Pack size: N/A
Floor area: 35 square feet
Sleeps:
2

Best Solo Backpacking Tent

MSR

MSR Hubba NX Solo

This ultralight freestanding tent squeezes in some elbow room and headroom, with a big side-entry vestibule for gear storage. Its super-strong composite poles are integrated into a unified hub and pole system for a lightning-fast setup. Superb cross-ventilation creates best-in-class airflow even with the rainfly battened down against a summer squall.

Trail weight: 2.5 pounds
Pack size: 18″ x 6″
Floor area: 18 square feet
Sleeps:
1

Best for Bikepacking

Nemo

Nemo Dragonfly Bikepack Tent

amazon.com

$389.95

Made from light, tough materials with a weight-saving tapered floor and a tub-style vestibule that keeps gear out of the mud, the DragonFly packs into a rolltop stuff sack you can attach to handlebars, under the seat, on the top tube or any rack. Poles are cut short to fit between brake hoods, while the webbing daisy chain makes a nice clothesline.

Trail weight: 2.25 pounds
Pack size: 14.5″ x 6″
Floor area: 20.3 square feet
Sleeps:
1

Best for a Big Crew

Eureka!

Eureka! Kohana 6 Person Tent

New johnsonoutdoors.com

$349.95

With enough space to pack in a pile of friends or an extended family, the six-person Kohana keeps you shielded from the weather (thanks to an included full rainfly) and from bugs, and it keeps you organized. Two oversized vestibules and six internal pockets store gear. The tent’s easy-to-assemble aluminum-pole dome frame is durable though heavy, so this tent is best for car camping and base camping.

Trail weight: 13 pounds
Pac size: 9″ x 27″
Floor area: 83.3 square feet
Sleeps:
6

Best Rooftop Tent

REI

Thule Tepui Foothill Tent

rei.com

$1,699.95

The two-person Foothill is easy to set up, with telescoping internal poles, and it deploys compactly so there’s space on your roof rack for bikes, kayaks and cargo. At half the width of other rooftop tents, this streamlined approach has a soft cover and a weight-saving base strong and stable. A wide door paired with a broad rear window and dual skylights enhance airflow and stargazing.

Trail weight: 108 pounds
Pack size: 83″ x 24″ x 9.5″
Floor area: 27.4 square feet
Sleeps:
2

Best Tent for Social Hangs

Moosejaw

Kelty Rumpus 4 Person Tent

moosejaw.com

$199.95

Kelty redefines the tent vestibule with the massive porch offered by the Rumpus. It’s big, tall, and ready for happy hour, or to store mountain bikes, a cooler and other gear. This tent is not exactly loaded with features, but the porch complements spacious sleeping quarters, and a color-coded fly matches the tent body so you don’t try to set it up sideways.

Trail weight: 12 pounds
Pack size: N/A
Floor area: 60.25 square inches
Sleeps:
4

Quickest Pitch

Quechua

Quechua 2 Second Tent

Quechua amazon.com

$165.99

Pull this tent out of its storage sack, tug pull-cords on each end, and in seconds, it’s all set up. With an integrated rainfly, this tent is heavy enough that you wouldn’t take it backpacking, but it’s a fast and fun car camping option, even if it takes another two minutes to pound in the stakes. The durable, waterproof base doesn’t need an additional footprint.

Trail weight: 6.83 pounds
Pack size: 23.2″ x 7.9″ x 7.9″
Area: 32 square feet
Sleeps:
2

Best Tarp Tent

Backcountry

Marmot Agate 2-Person Tent

avantlink.com

$213.95

With more features than a tarp but less weight than a tent, Marmot’s no-frills shelter can be stripped down to less than a pound. It sets up with trekking poles or a tent pole to shelter you while you sleep. The lean-to-shaped structure has an eve at the front to deflect water if it rains, but no bug netting.

Trail weight: 13.5 ounces
Pack size: 20″ x 4″
Floor area: 34.5 square feet
Sleeps:
2