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Gear Deals Extend Through The Weekend

Gear Deals Extend Through The Weekend Thegearcaster Nov 27, 2015

While some brick-and-mortar stores will remain closed today to incentivize us to play outside, online retailers are open for business (including REI), even extending Black Friday sales straight through the weekend (if they haven’t started already). If you know the gear you are looking for, check out our Gear Search Tool to figure out where you can buy it at the best price–we have access to the inventory of almost 100 retailers and it costs you nothing. Otherwise, we had a chance to preview some of the great deals available this weekend–here are a few of our favorites.

Performance Bicycle discounted pretty much everything up to 60%–full bikes, parts, accessories, and all. For example, you can one of the bikes we ride, the Diamondback Podium Optum or the equivalent Diamondback Podium Equipe, for up to $3000 off retail this weekend. The HED Stinger wheels alone are worth a huge chunk of the remaining price.

Backcountry has a sale on all the major brands, discounting gear up to 50% on Marmot, Prana, Columbia, Kuhl, Smith, and more. But for the climbers, saving over $200 on a Black Diamond Camalot C4 Package (#.3-6) is pretty hard to beat. Winter is a great time to build your summer rack.

You can also save 30% on Patagonia gear such as the Nano-Air Hooded Jacket and the fabulous Black Hole Duffel Bags, or even on the Jetboil MiniMo.

The award-winning Atmos AG packs from Osprey are on sale over at Eastern Mountain Sports–save $50 or more on these comfortable heavy-load carrying packs.

And finally, REI discounted most of their GPS watches such as the Suunto Ambit3 and the Garmin Fenix 3 by anywhere from 20%-30%. That can save you more than $200 on a high-end watch.

Airnum Urban Breathing Mask

Airnum Urban Breathing Mask Thegearcaster Nov 24, 2015

I admit, there are days in San Francisco where I seriously consider wearing a face mask when heading out for a ride. With a majority of the days falling in the moderate to unhealthy Air Quality Index category, it can feel like you are doing more harm than good by grabbing your bike. To help us all breathe better in urban environments, Swedish company Airnum created a reliable and most importantly, a fashionable way to breathe clean air everyday.

Airnum’s filter technology uses three different layers to filter out 99% of viruses, bacteria, allergens, and smog. An active carbon layer filters out gases and odors, an electrostatic layer filters out ultra fine particles, and a micro fiber layer filters out the harmful P2.5-P10 particulate matter and protects you from viruses and bacteria.

The Airnum Urban Breathing Mask is lightweight, breathable, and adapts to fit your face with a flexible stretch binding, adjustable ear loops, and an attachable head strap. The filter itself lasts up to a month (depending on air quality) and can easily be replaced. The rest of the mask can be washed and used for years.

Filters become clogged with particles when you use them longer than their recommended lifetime. The filters will be harder to breathe through, but their protection will not decrease. If you feel too much resistance while breathing, it’s probably time to change the filter–you will be able to order them online from Airnum.

Airnum Urban Breathing Masks retail for around $37–choose from 12 different styles or designs in a range of sizes from extra small to large. Sure, there are other urban breathing masks on the market that might be a bit cheaper but they look like something out of Star Trek. Your average urban commuter is not going to wear that to walk or ride to work.

How we test Men's softshell Jackets: [...] Youtube Nov 25, 2015

Check out our complete Men's Softshell Jacket Review:

Free State Park Access This Friday

Free State Park Access This Friday Thegearcaster Nov 25, 2015

Following REI’s recent #OptOutside announcement, numerous states decided to join the cause and waive parking, entrance-, and even camping fees at all state parks this Friday. As with REI’s campaign, the state parks’ move is meant to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature rather than join the hordes of people crowding stores looking for discounts on holiday gifts.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department decided to waive $5 parking fees at all state parks that charge one on Black Friday. Most state parks are free year-round, but the 26 that charge for parking include Nehalem Bay State Park and Cape Lookout State Park.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office teamed up to offer free access to all 42 Colorado state parks in what they are calling Fresh Air Friday. And though it may just be snowing, the Minnesota State Parks system announced it would be extra easy to #OptOutside on Black Friday because admission will be free at all 75 state park and recreation areas that day in what Minnesota is dubbing Free Park Friday.

California’s Save the Redwoods League is sponsoring a special “Free Friday in the Redwoods” event, in which admission to 49 California state parks is free on Friday. Note–you need to download and print out a pass before you head out. For any Bay Area mountain biker, this is a great chance to spend the day riding China Camp for free.

Missouri State Parks have also jumped into the mix with a special offer of free camping on first come, first serve campsites (park entrance is always free). Other states also opting outside this Friday are Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Washington.

What are you plans to #OptOutside this Friday? I’ll be riding my bike to Honeymoon Island State Park then paddling over to Caladesi Island State Park down here in Florida. That’s worth an extra slice of key lime pie.

Everysight Cycling Smart Glasses

Everysight Cycling Smart Glasses Thegearcaster Nov 23, 2015

Israel-based defense technology firm Elbit System has over 30 years experience in vision systems, augmented reality, and integrating real-time data into pilots’ helmets. With their recent spin-off of new company Everysight, the firm now plans to bring their heads-up display technology to the consumer market with a pair of cycling smart glasses to be launched next year.

Instead of using a tiny display that sits at the edge of your vision, the Raptor sunglasses use low-profile mirroring technology to make cycling data visible directly on the lens, similar to technology that pilots have used for decades. The Everysight Beam technology is hidden in the top bar of the sunglasses and projects a transparent display right in your line of sight–meaning no peripheral distractions so you can keep your eyes on the road.

In the video below, you will see that the Raptor sunglasses displays typical cycling data such as speed, power, cadence, distance, and even route directions. Everysight says they’ll host a program for developers to increase the glasses’ capabilities.

No word yet on how the sunglasses will link to external sensors and phones, what it will cost, or when exactly it will be available.

In similar news, Recon announced that the Jet are now prescription lens compatible. The company teamed up with Rochester Optical to create prescription lens inserts that are extremely easy to mount in your smart glasses.

Avanet – Crowdsourced Avalanche Safety

Avanet – Crowdsourced Avalanche Safety Thegearcaster Nov 19, 2015

Avatech realizes the best avalanche information comes from people actually observing and experiencing the conditions rather than a static snapshot based on weather and other data at a certain time and place. To help facilitate the sharing of real-time safety information, the company created a network where we can all collectively work together to help keep each other safe this winter.

Avanet is a global crowdsourced platform of mountain safety information where mountain professionals and recreationalists alike can share real-time observations on snow conditions.

Before you head out in the mountains each morning, you can check the geo-tagged observations, including photos, videos, and audio information overlayed on a variety of different mapping layers. Once you are outside, you can contribute to the crowdsourced knowledge by reporting the conditions you see that day. You can also set up real-time local notifications of red flags in your area to better inform your decision making.

Avanet enables you to plan and track your route safely within the context of mountain safety information around you. These routes can be planned automatically for you and shared with friends and colleagues. When you are out or after you get home, the app lets you evaluate your performance in real-time to see how you did versus your plan, something that is always good to evaluate.

We all know that using our phone’s GPS to track routes can dramatically decrease battery life, so Avanet will automatically notify you at 20% battery life to help you preserve battery as the phone is an important safety device in the mountains. For this reason, Avatech strongly recommends you bring an extra phone battery with you during your mountain travels.

You can access Avanet through an app on your iPhone or iPad as well as online. I will definitely be using this for ice climbing this winter.

Edgevale Urban Performance Apparel

Edgevale Urban Performance Apparel Thegearcaster Nov 18, 2015

Oakland, CA based Edgevale understands the outdoorsy male that just happens to live in an urban setting. What’s a guy to wear for an action packed day that involves both indoor and outdoor activities? The company believes versatile apparel is the key–tailored to look sharp but engineered for outdoor utility and comfort. All Edgevale products are designed in Oakland, adventure-tested in northern California, and made in California.

One of the most popular pieces in the collection is the wind- and water-resistant North Coast Shirt Jacket ($199), pictured top. Sandwiched between the wooly outer and the soft fleece lining is a breathable polyurethane soft shell membrane to keep you cool and dry. A bit of stretch improves mobility and comfort whether you are hiking, riding your bike around town, or simply lifting a pint.

Good looking and highly functional, the limited edition Cast Iron Pants ($149) are constructed from a blend of cotton duck (a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric) and Cordura nylon for bomber abrasion resistance. Classic Edgevale features include triple needle stitching throughout, bar tacks at key stress points and a crotch gusset for freedom of movement. Double fronts provide an extra layer of protection against abrasions and the elements while Cordura pocket reinforcement ensures that frayed pockets from your knife clip are a thing of the past.

Technically designed for men but unisex in utility, women might want to have a look at the Campfire Pants ($99) as well. Imagine yourself throwing on these microfleece joggers in the hut after a full day skiing or ice climbing and sipping on some spiked hot chocolate. Yes, these are going on my wish list this winter.

If you are at a loss as to what to get that outdoor loving guy in your life this holiday, perhaps you want to have a look at Edgevale.

7Mesh Synergy Jersey Review

7Mesh Synergy Jersey Review Thegearcaster Nov 20, 2015

Fall weather has finally hit the Bay Area and although this means we are far from suffering, it can make dressing for that daily ride a bit more difficult. Morning temps usually start out in the 30s before climbing to the high 60s during the day, with a consistent cool breeze. It’s too warm on long sunny uphills for a vest or jacket, but you’ll freeze coming down the other side without one. For those of us that get annoyed with continually having to shed or don layers, 7-Mesh came up with a solution–the Synergy Jersey.

The Synergy Jersey acts like a long sleeve jersey and vest all in one–windproof and water resistant on the front of your body and arms, wicking and super air-permeable on the back, and very breathable throughout. Wearing the jersey alone or even with a baselayer underneath, saves me from either having to ride in discomfort (freezing or sweaty) or stopping to put on a jacket before hitting big descents only to stop and remove it again at the bottom–anyone who rides in the Bay Area knows you are either climbing or descending for most of your ride.

Using the the Windstopper membrane as the foundation, the softshell fabric offers complete windproofness with great breathability by combining the comfort of a soft mid-layer and the water resistance of a shell in one garment. The membrane is an ultra thin protective layer which is laminated between two lightweight textile layers. The back is a soft textured knit for comfort. The outer layer is a woven nylon for keeping the weather at bay and also provides durability against abrasion from brush and branches.

Other features of the Synergy Jersey include a deep, 5-pocket configuration (3 top loaders and 2 zipped side access security pockets), cable routing holes, a slightly higher collar for weather protection, and an AquaGuard Vislon front zip for weather protection and easy venting.

My only complaint with the Synergy is the sizing. Although I wear a medium in other 7Me [...]

Ravean Heated Down Apparel

Ravean Heated Down Apparel Thegearcaster Nov 17, 2015

Some of the big brands in the outdoor industry have tried heated apparel in the past and failed miserably, including major recalls and lawsuits causing them to ditch the lines all together. So what makes Ravean think they can do better? The Utah startup created a line of heated apparel they claim will stand up to almost anything and keep you comfortable down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit this winter.

The Ravean heated apparel line includes four pieces–a cotton hoodie run off a 5V battery, down vest run off a 5V battery, down jacket run off a 12V battery, and hooded down jacket run off a 12V battery. The down apparel is made from a lightweight DWR treated fabric and stuffed with 650-fill down. Instead of wiring the entire garment, the heated down jackets feature 5 different carbon coil heating panels treated with a water-resistant coating—two in the hand pockets (12 V version only), two in the chest area, and one at the back.

Using the power and temperature control on the inside left of the jackets, you can adjust the heat output from low, to medium and high. As a bonus, the 12V version jackets include plugins for a pair of heated gloves (included) and separate temperature controls for the heated hand pockets and gloves.

Recharged in around 90 minutes, each of the jacket’s lithium polymer battery can run 10 hours straight on the low-heat setting, 5-6 hours on medium-heat, and 3-4 hours on high-heat. It also doubles as a gadget charger–charge your phone up to 6 times while you are out and about (though you may not stay warm for long).

The Ravean heated hooded down jacket ($199) and heated down jacket ($195) both come with a 12V battery, pair of gloves, stuff sack, and charger. The heated down vest ($129) and hoodie ($119) come with a 5V battery and charging cord.

Expected delivery is January-February 2016. Given that they are already over 700% funded on their Kickstarter campaign, there appears to be a huge curiosity in the holy grail [...]

Luxury Car Camping Gear

Luxury Car Camping Gear Thegearcaster Nov 13, 2015

Throughout the fall, we spent lots of time car camping, whether it was up at Crater Lake in order to ride the rim, or weekends spent in Tahoe so Lola could swim. The nice thing about car camping is that since you don’t really have to worry about weight or space, you can bring all the extra luxuries. Here are ten items that have been some of our favorites this fall and would make a great gift for the camping enthusiast on your holiday list.

Intex Super-Tough Air Bed ($59.99): My philosophy is that car camping should be almost as comfortable as sleeping at home in your own bed. The Intex air beds feature thousands of high-strength polyester fibers that don’t stretch over time, making the mattresses last longer and stay firm through the night. The Super-Tough version also uses a built-in battery pump so you don’t have to worry about bringing one with you or worse yet, forgetting it at home. I use the air bed in the back of the Subaru if it is just me camping on a road trip or we will use two in a tent covered with a fitted sheet to make a king size comfy platform.
Rumpl Queen Puffy ($199): You don’t need to be confined to a sleeping bag when car camping. Instead, use one or two Rumpl blankets to create a warm, bed-like environment. Filled with synthetic insulation, the outer shell is made from a DWR treated nylon fabric that repels moisture, stains, and odors. When not in your tent, wrap yourself in the blanket to keep cozy warm by the fire. The Rumpl blankets come in a variety of sizes and styles–the newest being fleece.
Nemo Fillo Luxury Pillow ($49.95): You don’t really want to bring your own pillow outdoors but the luxury pillow from Nemo is the next best thing–a combination of inflatable baffles and memory foam lets you dial in the fit, while the super soft microsuede pillow cover is soft against your face. The pillow packs down small enough that it can serve double duty on your backpacking adventures.
REI Evrgrn Stary Night [...]

Nice shout-out from an opinion we respect. Outdoorgearlab Nov 18, 2015

Review rating summary for the best Ultralight Sleeping Bags from our review: The Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.

How to Choose the Best Trekking Pole [...] Youtube Nov 14, 2015

Full buying advice article at where we compare the top trekking poles.

The Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle Collaboration Is Back

The Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle Collaboration Is Back Thegearcaster Nov 16, 2015

Just in time for the holidays, the Timbuk2 and Blue Bottle collaboration is back. Now with two different kits that include everything you need to make the perfect cup of coffee away from home, never again will you suffer through your parents’ percolated Folgers each morning. Just add water.

Back by popular demand, the original Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle travel coffee kit, dubbed The Weekender ($179), re-launches today. Pictured top, the package includes a Timbuk2 waxed canvas and leather trimmed bag, a custom Blue Bottle Bonmac Travel Dripper, filters, a sample of Blue Bottle Coffee Beans, two Falcon Enamelware Tumblers, two custom felt zarfs (yes, that is what those cardboard holders you get at Starbucks are called), and a Porlex Mini Hand Grinder.

Joining the offering, The Sabbatical ($349) is for the ultimate coffee enthusiast who incorporates precision and care into each cup–the mac daddy of quality coffee brewing on the go, if you will. This beautiful kit features not only a Timbuk2 waxed canvas and leather trimmed bag, a custom Blue Bottle Bonmac Travel Dripper, filters, a sample of Blue Bottle Coffee Beans, two Falcon Enamelware Tumblers, two custom felt zarfs, and a Porlex Mini Hand Grinder, but also throws in a Tsuki Usagi kettle and a Hario scale.

According to Blue Bottle, the pour-over method is one of the simplest and cleanest way to draw out a coffee’s best qualities. To make, the company suggests the following 8-step brewing process:

Bring to a boil twice as much water as you’ll need for the actual brewing (around 600-700 ml).
Weigh out about 25-30 grams of coffee (or approximately two to three tablespoons of whole beans for those without the scale).
Grind your coffee to a coarseness close to that of sea salt.
Fold your filter and place it in the Travel Dripper.
Pour in about half of your hot water, fully saturating the filter and warming the porcelain. After a minute or so, empty your now-warm cup or carafe and prepare to brew.
Pour [...]

Mountain Khakis Alpha Switch Jacket Review

Mountain Khakis Alpha Switch Jacket Review Thegearcaster Nov 12, 2015

Mountain Khakis calls it the MacGyver of Jackets, and for good reason. The lightly insulated Alpha Switch Jacket is fully reversible, taking you from trail to town in a matter of seconds. This is your one jacket quiver to see you through the rest of the year.

One side of the Alpha Switch features a black stretch woven face fabric and looks a bit more like a shirt or an urban jacket with two snap chest posts and hidden-zipper hand pockets. The reverse side looks more outdoorsy with a zippered chest pocket and two zippered hand pockets. The striped yet translucent, DWR-treated ripstop nylon shell will protect you from light weather when hiking, skiing, biking, or during other outdoor activities.

The jacket is filled with 80 grams of continuous (read: baffle-free) Polartec Alpha insulation. Originally developed for U.S. Special Ops Forces, Alpha insulation is extremely breathable and helps regulate your core body temperature during both dynamic and static activities–this means you don’t need to continually shed and add layers based on your level of exertion. Alpha also dries 60% faster than other synthetic insulation should it get wet. The Alpha Switch has been my walk the dog, head out on a hike, bike to the bar, and commute into work jacket this fall.

Bottom Line: Dare we say the Alpha Switch is a slightly dressier, more urban looking, and more versatile alternative to the ubiquitous light puffy normally worn by all this time of year. And you don’t have to worry about it getting rained on.

The Alpha Switch Jacket retails for $249.95 is available now. It also comes in a pullover version.

–Terry Doyle

SussMyBike Smart Suspension Tool

SussMyBike Smart Suspension Tool Thegearcaster Nov 11, 2015

How do you know your mountain bike suspension is set up properly? It’s usually more of an art than a science and can be hard to keep track of over time. But what if there was a device that could monitor your suspension and make recommendations based on how and where you ride? That’s SussMyBike.

SussMyBike is a small electronic device that monitors your shock displacement and looks for how the suspension moves through its travel. Upon sensing undesirable characteristics, SussMyBike recommends how you can tune High/Low speed compression and High/Low speed rebound. It records bottom out events, the dynamic sag while you are riding, and progressiveness of shock. All this information enables the system to inform you on how exactly to adjust the sag and damping to optimize your ride quality.

SussMyBike is used in conjunction with an app on your phone and communicates over Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE). The device can be uses on any adjustable air or coil suspension system.

You can tune the suspension to suit your everyday riding style or the type of riding you plan to do at a certain point in time–XC, enduro, or downhill. The smartphone app helps you understand what you have to do to achieve critically damped tuning values for your weight, terrain, and riding style. This will result in increased stability and a more balanced ride.

Unlike the ShockWiz, you don’t have to keep the device on your bike all the time–just when you are first getting your suspension dialed in or when you head to new trails, such as from Colorado to Vermont, and want to match your suspension accordingly.

As I am by no means a pro mountain biker, I really only know when my suspension feels off but don’t know how to fine tune it for the perfect ride on the trails I frequent. So to be able to quantify it in numbers and know exactly what my suspension is doing beyond what I can feel, is extremely helpful.

Unsurprisingly, the UK-based company is taking pre-ord [...]

Never Tie Your Shoelaces Again

Never Tie Your Shoelaces Again Thegearcaster Nov 10, 2015

I will be the first to admit that I really hate tying shoelaces. I normally find ways to leave them loose enough so that I can just slip in and out of my shoes–not exactly conducive to a proper fit, especially for running. So when I heard about the Xpand Lacing System, I was all over it. No more bows, no more double knots, no more endless tying and untying.

The Xpand Lacing System consists of a pair of laces, lace anchors, and lace end clips. The laces themselves are made from a zero memory, long-lasting elastic rubber that delivers a consistent fit every day.

To install, you thread the laces through your shoes as normal, tighten to your desired fit, then thread the ends through the lace anchors. The anchors can be placed on the inside of your shoe for stealth mode, or on the outside of your shoe for a cool, athletic look. Once the laces are thread through the anchor, they will remain in place, stretching just enough to allow you to easily get in and out of your shoes. Clip the excess ends of the laces and if worn on the outside of your shoes, apply the lace end clips that give them a finished look and help with adjustability.

The lace anchors are manufactured from a fiber filled resin providing strength and preventing any breakage or warping. The end clips, if used, have multiple rows of teeth that clinch the laces. This allows you to pull as hard as you would like without the end clips separating from the laces. These end clips are also adjustable, meaning you can unlock them and re-lock them if you need to make shoelace length adjustments.

The Xpand Lacing System is designed with runners in mind but easy enough for a child to use.  You can pre-set the tension as tight as you would like, so will be able to set a snug fit on your sports shoes and a more relaxed fit on your casual shoes. You aren’t locked into the setting either–you can change it as you go.

The Xpand Lacing System comes in 24 different lace colors. You can pre-order [...]

Stay Organized With The SegSac

Stay Organized With The SegSac Thegearcaster Nov 9, 2015

What’s better than a stuff sack for organizing all your gear? Why an organizational stuff sack of course. Gobi Gear created the SegSac–a stuff sack that keeps all your gear together in one place, yet separated at the same time. No more digging through your pack to find something or having to reorganize all your gear every time you unpack.

The SegSac features four internal compartments that are sewn to the bottom of the stuff sack so that your gear stays put in each section. The stuff sacks are made from an ultra-light yet durable fabric, weighing anywhere from 1.6 ounces to 3.8 ounces depending on size and style. They are water-resistant only–water will bead off the outside but these are by no means a dry bag replacement.

The SegSacs use a standard drawstring closure with a nylon handle at the back for quick and easy retrieval from your backpack. If you want to maximize your space, compression straps are available as an option.

The SegSacs come in two sizes–15 liters and 20 liters–and two styles–compression and regular. I would love to see them offer multiple colorways–it’s one thing to organize all your gear in stuff sacks but another to have to search every one to find what you are looking for at the moment.

I use stuff sacks often for organizing gear when traveling and personally pack by type–socks in one, hat and gloves in another, etc. I find when backpacking, you don’t really have the luxury of wearing something different everyday so stuff sacks just add weight. I can see the internal segments being great for normal travel if you want to pack your outfits each day and then have a separate compartment for dirty clothes each night. Or even on a bike tour/race where you organize each day’s kit and contain the resulting mess at the end of the day.

A few days remain of Gobi Gear’s already funded Kickstarter campaign where you can pre-order your SegSacs for $20-$45. Expected deliv [...]

What I’m Wearing: Fall Running Edition

What I’m Wearing: Fall Running Edition Thegearcaster Nov 6, 2015

The end of daylight saving time brings dark evenings for that after work run. Since 70% of all pedestrian deaths occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you need to take steps to mitigate your risk when running on dark roads or even trails. Here is the gear I am running in this fall–it is all about comfort and maximizing my visibility.

Pearl Izumi Fly 3/4 Tight ($55): Pearl Izumi’s new BioViz collection uses a combination of fluorescence and strategically placed reflective hits to increase your visibility both day and night. The company found that by accentuating the parts of your body that move the most, drivers are more apt to not only see you from far away but understand that you are a runner or pedestrian–the reflective hits on the knees of these 3/4 tights add visibility to a key part of your leg. A zippered pocket at the back of the wide waistband (no muffin top!) holds an iPhone 6 securely against your back so it doesn’t bounce up and down as you run. Mesh venting behind the knee cuts down on sweat while your quads and hamstrings remain warm.
Pearl Izumi Fly Jacket ($85): The screaming pink color of this jacket makes you better seen in broad daylight, especially with the contrasting screaming yellow on the arms, one of the other body parts that moves the most during your stride. Reflective hits on the arms add strategic 360-degree visibility at night. Open, hidden vents at the back keep you from overheating while still protecting you from harsh winds and even light rain. A zippered pocket securely holds the essentials and one of my favorite features–the internal fist mitts–keep your hands from freezing on your run without the need for full gloves.

Here is a video of me doing dumb things to show you how BioViz looks when running at night.

Mountain Khakis tank: The days are still quite warm here in San Francisco so I normally start out in a tank and [...]

The Most Durable Portable Charger

The Most Durable Portable Charger Thegearcaster Nov 4, 2015

Destruction tested by Special Forces, the Poseidon from Dark Energy might just be the most durable portable charger you will ever find. Catering specifically to the outdoors, the Poseidon’s drop- and waterproof construction will withstand the harshest of environments.

With 10000 mAh internal capacity and two charging ports capable of a combined 3.4 amp output, the Poseidon provides you with enough power to charge your phone 3-6 times, a tablet 1-2 times, or an action camera 7-9 times. To make the portable charger both highly efficient and reliable, the team developed a new circuit board architecture to control the energy and reduce the stand-by drain on the battery.

The Poseidon weighs 07. pounds with a thickness of 0.67 inches–so not your lightest portable charger but probably one of the most durable. The portable charger was engineered to be both chemically and structurally sealed, making it waterproof inside and out.

Serving multiple purposes, the Poseidon features a built in flashlight and lantern run off of four high-powered LEDs, complete with SOS signaling capability. A nylon strap and carabiner allow you to hang the Poseidon on your backpack or in a tent.

Dark Energy takes their destruction-tested standard very seriously, as seen in the video below. The charger still works even after being shot at 38 times from 30 feet away.

The Dark Energy Poseidon comes in a both a Realtree camo and black color, and retails for $99. The package includes a water-resistant USB charging cable wrapped in twenty feet of paracord.

Dish&Duer No-Sweat Sweat Pant

Dish&Duer No-Sweat Sweat Pant Thegearcaster Nov 3, 2015

With the bold promise of never making you sweat, Dish&Duer launched their new line of performance pants that look like dress pants but feel like sweat pants. Following up his popular line of performance denim, founder Gary Lenett, who has worked with the likes of Levi’s, Nike, Wrangler and Guess, now wants to connect with a wider athleisure audience.

The key to the no sweat factor of these performance pants is in the fabric–both a woven and a knit, Nature2X fabric is made from a blend of Tencel, polyester, cotton, and Spandex. Tencel absorbs moisture away from you skin to keep you feeling dry on the inside. It is also naturally antibacterial so cuts down on the stink factor.

Polyester adds durability and quick drying times, cotton is the most comfortable to wear next to skin, and spandex gives the pants some stretch while keeping them from sagging over time.

Add to that a variety of comfortable fits and office-worthy style, and you can see why their Kickstarter campaign is already close to 400% funded with weeks still to go. These can be your work pants, sweat pants, running pants, dress pants, and bike commuting pants–basically your all in one pant.

The performance pants come in 5 different styles–3 for men (a slim and relaxed 5 Pocket Pant, Jogger) and 2 for women (Jogger and 5 Pocket Skinny). The pants feature five pockets (obviously), an invisible seat gusset, leather trim detail and come in a variety of colors for both men and women.

For an $88-$98 pledge over on Kickstarter, you can pre-order your Dish&Duer performance pants. Expected delivery is in February. I haven’t yet tried them but at least they look to be a huge step up from the current leggings athleisure trend.

Joby Action Bike Mount Eliminates The Junk Show

Joby Action Bike Mount Eliminates The Junk Show Thegearcaster Nov 5, 2015

There is only so much room on your handlebars for gadgets–lights, bike computer, and action camera all fighting for prime real estate. To help streamline your growing pile of accessories, Joby created the Action Bike Mount that accommodates multiple devices on a single platform, including lights for added visibility.

Three attachment points allow you to mount your GoPro or other action camera at any preferred shooting angle, top, front or back, while leaving room for your bike computer and other accessories–the mount accommodates any device with 1⁄4″-20 mounts (lights, Garmin bike computer, smartphone with GripTight, etc.). No tools are needed to attach or detach items.

The Action Bike Mount secures to either your handlebars or seat post and can easily detach to take with you when you leave your bike. The low-profile and rigid form factor fits any handlebar via the included inserts–from 22.2mm to 35mm size. This will cover most road, mountain, hybrid, cruiser, fixie, ATVs and even dirt bikes. For the weight weenies out there, the mount will add 95 grams to your setup. Carbon fiber Barfly this is not.

The Action Bike Mount & Light Pack includes front white light and rear red visibility lights–also secured with Joby’s 1/4″-20 attachment point. Designed for true flexibility, the lights may be attached to the mount or to another point on your bike via the included stretch bands. The lights turn on with a simple push of a button for single light or flashing mode and last up to eight hours.

The Action Bike Mount retails for $34.95 and includes the mount, 3 handlebar inserts, GoPro mount, and Garmin mount. Upgrade to the Action Bike Mount & Light Pack for $69.95. Both mount systems are available now.

Gore Thermium Protected Insulation

Gore Thermium Protected Insulation Thegearcaster Nov 2, 2015

Last week, Gore announced that for Fall/Winter 2016, it will restructure into three distinct consumer textile brands while introducing new laminate technology at the same time. The overall Gore Fabrics umbrella will now include Gore-Tex, Gore Windstopper, and the new Gore Thermium–basically splitting into distinct Gore and Gore-Tex brands while venturing further outside the waterproof breathable world.

Gore Thermium is a new insulated shell construction that offers a two-layer, seam-taped, windproof, water-resistant and breathable laminate coupled with a non-stitched insulation of choice (down, synthetic, or wool) and an inner lining. The idea behind Thermium is to help keep the insulation dry and protected from light rain or snow so it retains its insulating capacity while allowing moisture vapor to escape at the same time.

Several brands have picked up Gore Thermium for next year including 66 Degrees North, Arc’teryx, Black Diamond, Millet, Salewa, Skhoop, and Sweet Protection.

The waterproof breathable Gore-Tex products will remain the same across three categories–Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro and Gore-Tex Active.

Gore Windstopper adds two new laminates for durable light rain resistance and insulation protection. The Gore Windstopper with insulation protection was designed for baffled or stitched-through down or synthetic insulation to be used in lightly insulated garments in high intensity, cold weather activity. The Gore Windstopper with durable light rain resistance is made from a three-layer laminate and sits nicely between Gore-Tex and regular Windstopper garments.

Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker

Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker Thegearcaster Oct 29, 2015

Not to be upstaged by Polar or even Microsoft, Garmin gets ready to release their own activity tracker with optical heart rate sensor–the Vivosmart HR. By ditching the external heart rate strap in favor of their own Elevate optical technology and adding a new display, Garmin hopes to better compete with the other high-end activity trackers on the market.

In addition to tracking the usual steps, distance walked, and calories burned, the Vivosmart HR measures floors climbed using an internal barometric altimeter and levels of activity intensity based on your heart rate. The device learns your current activity level, then assigns an attainable daily goal. As you meet your milestones, Vivosmart HR will adjust your goal for the next day in an attempt to make you more active.

Once connected with your phone via Bluetooth Smart, you will be alerted each time you receive a text, email, social media and calendar alerts, or a call–your Vivosmart HR will gently vibrate and automatically display the information. Simply touch and swipe the screen to read more (you can turn alerts off if you find them annoying).

After 1 hour of inactivity, the activity tracker vibrates to let you know that it’s time to move. Walk just a couple of minutes to reset the timer. Much like the original Vivosmart, the new Vivosmart HR can track your workouts separately but now can also send your HR information to an external ANT+ compatible device such as your bike computer (but doesn’t pair with sensors).

Once set in sleep mode, the activity tracker monitors your rest. Over on the Garmin Connect app or website, you can view your total sleep hours, as well as periods of movement and restful sleep. The built-in alarm will alert you with a gentle vibration instead of an annoying noise in the morning–not sure if this would wake most people up but it sounds great.

The rechargeable lithium battery lasts for up to 5 days before needing to be charged. The Vivosmart HR has [...]

REI To Close All Stores On Black Friday

REI To Close All Stores On Black Friday Thegearcaster Oct 27, 2015

In a bold but awesome move, REI declared they are closing all 143 of their stores on Black Friday. Instead of reporting to work, the co-op is paying their employees to go play outside. Essentially, REI is making a move to remind us all it’s about experiences and not stuff in the end.

While REI still plans to offer deals on gear all holiday season long, this one day, they are going to #OptOutside and want you to join them. REI created a website to help you plan your outdoor adventure that day and customize a message to share your intentions across all your social channels. It looks like the company partnered with Visit the USA to provide a searchable database of activity options in cities across the country.

Last year, REI’s growth came from their brick-and-mortar stores (as opposed to online sales), as attractions such as climbing walls, classes, and knowledgeable outdoor-minded salespeople keep people coming through the doors. So for the company to shut all their stores on one of the biggest shopping days of the year is a big deal.

The news was met by applause from REI members–if you look over on their Facebook page, the overwhelming majority of the 2,000+ comments are in favor of the decision. And kudos to REI’s social staff for liking or answering each and every comment.

Very much like Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, I am sure REI’s Black Friday closure will actually boost sales in the end. Nice work REI.

Now You Can Hammock Without The Trees

Now You Can Hammock Without The Trees Thegearcaster Oct 27, 2015

Arguably, everyone loves a hammock but what can you do when you don’t have the proper tree setup? Eagles Nest Outfitters answers the call to open up new opportunities for hanging out in your hammock with a new line of hammock stands–a 3-hammock, 1-hammock, and car stand.

The largest of the stand family, the ENOpod, holds three hammocks and up to 1200 pounds, or 400 pounds per hammock. Crafted from powder coated steel and featuring tool-less construction, this 12 piece set is super easy to construct and break down. Even though it weighs 101 pounds all in, the stand packs down small enough that it will fit in most car trunks.

Complementing the ENOpod, the SoloPod holds just one hammock or 400 pounds. Also built with durable powder coated steel and featuring a quick-release, tool-less construction, the SoloPod breaks down conveniently into eight pieces weighing around 58 pounds, making it portable enough for any outdoor festival and other parties, or even just your backyard.

Finally, the Roadie is the first portable car hammock stand that does not require a hitch. Ensuring you always have a bed for the night, the Roadie’s simple setup stays secure under the wheels of your car, creating the perfect hang for any hammock. Crafted from powder-coated steel, the Roadie breaks down into 6 manageable pieces weighing 56 pounds, taking up next to no space in the trunk, and enabling you to hammock wherever you park your car.

The ENO Hammock Stand line will start shipping in January.

BeeLine Fuzzy Navigation For Your Bike

BeeLine Fuzzy Navigation For Your Bike Thegearcaster Oct 30, 2015

When exploring a city by foot, most of us know which general direction we need to head and work our way there as opposed to following a prescribed route. So why not do the same on the bike? The BeeLine bike navigator harnesses the power of your phone’s GPS to tell you nothing more than in which general direction you need to go.

At the core of BeeLine is the stripped back concept of fuzzy navigation–BeeLine simply points you in the general direction to your destination and tells you the distance to go without any instructions on where and when to turn. The idea is that it cuts down on stress because you can never take a wrong turn or miss a turn and you can choose which streets look safe and interesting to ride.

For the occasions where you have to go via a specific point, like over the Golden Gate Bridge, you can add intermediate way points to your journey to ensure you never get stuck wandering around the wrong side.

To set BeeLine up, simply snap the device onto your bike, select a destination in the free app and off you go. BeeLine fits onto any bike using a flexible strap, and the display can be rotated to work whether attached to the handlebar or stem.

The bike navigator’s backlit e-paper screen is visible under any conditions and the device is weatherproof. BeeLine will last for 1-3 months of use between charges, based on 20-60 minutes of use every day.

While this sounds awesome in practice, I am really curious to see how it works in theory. I personally want to know exactly where I am going on a bike ride or at least which streets are bike friendly, have bike paths, are dead ends, etc. But perhaps if I was on a city bike in a different city such as Paris, New York, or London, it would be more fun to just ride wherever. As long as the device didn’t allow me to ride straight through Piccadilly Circus, Times Square, or down the Champs Élysées.

For around $55 over on Kickstarter, you can be one of the first to own BeeLine. [...]

Blaze Laserlight Comes To U.S.

Blaze Laserlight Comes To U.S. Thegearcaster Oct 26, 2015

A majority of cycling accidents in the U.K. (and most likely the U.S.) occur when drivers veer into a rider’s path–namely because they didn’t see you or know you were there. Graduate student Emily Brooke set out to find a better way to alert drivers of your presence and created the Blaze Laserlight.

Launched via Kickstarter in Europe three years ago and now finally coming to North America, the Blaze Laserlight includes not only a high-powered, 300 lumen LED bike light, but also incorporates a laser that projects a bicycle icon 20 feet ahead of you (you can chose either flashing or constant mode). This green laser projection increases your footprint on the road, making a virtual bike lane of sorts, and alerts road users ahead that you are coming or riding at the side of their car.

A study conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory in the U.K. found that the Blaze Laserlight made you more visible to buses, cars, and trucks as compared to a standalone LED bike light. With buses, the Blaze increased maximum nighttime visibility from 72.4% with just the existing LED lights to 96.2% visibility.

You have to figure that even if drivers have no clue what is going on as soon as the big green bike appears on the road in front of them, at least it will grab their attention and force them to look, where one would hope they then notice you on your bike.

The Blaze Laserlight is assembled from aircraft-grade aluminum featuring diamond-cut edges. It’s USB rechargeable via a magnetic charging cable, features a battery life of up to 13 hours, fits 99% of handlebars, and is waterproof to a depth of three feet. The LED bike light operates in three modes–100 lumen flashing, 100 lumen solid, and 300 lumen solid

The Blaze Laserlight retails for $200 and is available from the company website.

Polar Goes Optical With A360 Fitness Tracker

Polar Goes Optical With A360 Fitness Tracker Thegearcaster Oct 22, 2015

With the new A360 fitness tracker, heart rate monitor pioneer Polar ditches the chest strap and goes optical. In what looks like a more exciting form factor than the Microsoft Band, the Polar fitness tracker includes a high resolution touchscreen for advanced feature access.

The A360 fitness tracker measures your daily activity such as steps and calorie count, your workouts, and even your sleep patterns. The Activity Guide gives you motivational feedback to help you reach your daily goals (for instance, telling you that you need to walk for 50 minutes or jog for 20 to reach your step goals) and will even give you a gentle reminder when you have been sitting too long for the day.

When connected to your phone via Bluetooth Smart (iPhone only at this point), the A360 vibrates to inform you of incoming calls, messages, calendar alerts, and social media notifications. On the Polar Flow app, you can review all your activity and training data for the day and also set up sport specific profiles for your workouts.

The Polar fitness tracker is waterproof (water resistant up to 30 meters) and the rechargeable battery will deliver up to two weeks of activity tracking with 1 hour of training per day before needing to be recharged.

The A360 comes in small, medium, and large sizes and has interchangeable, soft silicone wristbands, which will be available in white, black, pink, and blue–these will be also be sold individually starting in January so you can switch out your colors every day if you wanted.

The Polar A360 will start shipping next month and retails for $199.95.

Yea!! Only 3,145. to go!! Facebook Oct 21, 2015

Breaking news! As of this morning, we've raised $16,855 for the American Safe Climbing Association! So close! Planet Granite will match up to $20,000 of all funds raised before October 31st! Help us meet our match and raise over $40k for the ASCA!

New Revolights Get Connected

New Revolights Get Connected Thegearcaster Oct 23, 2015

Revolights is back with two new versions of their 360-degree bike lighting solution–the Eclipse that is super simple to install and the Eclipse+ which connects with your phone for added functionality. Over 200% funded in just a couple of days, the new Revolights lighting systems look to be a hot commodity.

The Revolights Eclipse includes four narrow rings of LEDs, two white and two red, which mount directly to the front and rear wheels of your bike with the help of four spoke clips per wheel. The lights are powered by a USB-rechargeable battery that snaps directly into the rings–this go around, the company ditched all the cables so that the on/off switch is more accessible and there are no extra parts required for the spokes or hub.

Each wheel consists of 24 equally spaced bright LEDs, with 8 on at any given moment.  A fork-mounted magnet and an integrated accelerometer provide speed and orientation data to the rings, allowing the LEDs to illuminate only when oriented at the front or rear of the bicycle.

By constantly tracking your wheel speed, Revolights is able to detect when you hit the brakes and alert traffic–once the system senses  a change in speed, the red will flash at a rapid rate informing tailing traffic that you are decreasing speed.

Eclipse+ is the connected version of the Revolights Eclipse product line. Via Bluetooth connectivity and the Revolights App, you will gain access to new features and functionality such as weather alerts, ride or achievement tracking (distance, miles per hour, compete in challenges, and set goals), remote on/off, battery status, time of day sensor, and turn signals–you’ll be able to indicate which way you’re turning through the handlebar mounted control pad, through the app, or through gesture recognition with a supported smart watch. On activation, the rear light will indicate the direction on the respective side through blinking full circle. The app is still in development so there many [...]