Archive for category Gear

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

Whether you are packing for a ski trip or a business trip, you need a bag that can take some abuse, keep things organized and also look sharp.  Although i’ve tried to use “nicer” duffles like my Barbour, I always tend to revert back to using a backpack.  Backpacks are great and easy to haul around but they are not easy to pack and unpack and face it, you don’t always want to look like you are about to hike a mountain when you hit airport security.

The cure?  Meet the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, available in 3 sizes (60L, 90L and 120L), there is one for every trip.  The other week I bought myself a bright blue 60L and it was love at first pack.  It is a perfect size for a long weekend trip and although not officially FAA carry on size, it easily fits in airplane overhead compartments and it lives up to its name the “black hole” as you can fit a lot into it and still have it look pretty compact.  The best part are the backpack straps that make it super easy to haul around, without looking and feeling like a true packpack.  Once you take it off your back, it loads and unloads easily with it’s U-shape opening.  Oh and I almost forgot to mention, it is waterproof so if it’s pouring rain or dumping snow on your way to your next destination, no worries.

Head to Patagonia to get yours.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 60L

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 60L

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Yeti SB-66: The Ultimate 6 Inch Bike

Yeti SB-66

The folks at Yeti have done it again.  The crew out of Golden, Colorado have managed to raise the bar with their latest offering, the SB-66.  As a big fan of Yeti and proud owner of an ‘06 575, I was surprised to see that their new model only boasts 1/4″ more travel than the current 575, but when looking at the specs, it is a whole different beast.  It boasts their new patent pending “Switch Technology”, which is a dual pivot design with an eccentric mechanism that switches direction as the bike moves through its travel.  What this means is a super smooth ride that will provide continuous, smooth travel throughout.  Initial reviews confirm that it is super fun to ride and will surely push other companies to try and copy.  The frame and shock come in at 7 pounds which is not super light but with the efficiency of it’s travel and geometry, it will ride a lot lighter.  If you are a weight weenie you can wait for the 6 pound carbon version but expect to pay a bunch more.  If you are looking to upgrade, look no further.  Head to your local Yeti dealer or click on over to JensonUSA to get yours now.  Prices are set at $3,500 for the Enduro build, $4,500 for the Race XT or X0/X9 build or $6,150 for the Pro XTR build.

Yeti SB-66 Switch Technology

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U.S.A! Everything You Need To Celebrate In Style On The 4th of July

Betabrand U.S.A. Pants

The 4th of July is less than a month away, which means it’s time to head across the border to stock up on fireworks, break out your red white and blues and drive on down to the grocery store to buy some grillables and adult beverages.

Although you might still be rocking the same classic American flag sweater your grandmother gave you for your birthday in 1996, it’s time to step into the 21st century and  wear your stars and stripes a little more fashionably.  Betabrand, a hot new mens clothing start-up based in San Francisco has made a name for themselves by cranking out fresh new designs on a weekly basis.  From their original Cordarounds which took the classic vertical cordory and flipped it on it’s side, to it’s super bright and popular “disco” pants, you can always expect something awesome and totally new to come out of their labs.  For the 4th they are serving up their U.S.A pants which will have everyone at your party singing the star spangled banner.  Get some now in time for the big day at Betabrand.com

Betabrand-USA-Pants

Betabrand USA Pants

Now that you have your legs covered for 4th of July, you need to outfit your whip to match.  Also based in San Francisco, Carstache promises to keep your car hip with one of their brightly colored car mustaches.  For the 4th they are offering the appropriately named Glorystache to keep your ride patriotic, even if it’s an import.  Head to Carstache.com to get your own.

Carstache Glorystache

Finally, you are gonna need some suds to wash down all the patriotic goodness you take in over the 4th so obviously you are going to do so with an American beer.  Forget the fact that a Belgian company technically owns Budweiser now, Bud is about as American as you can get.  To celebrate, Budweiser wrapped their cans with some stars and stripes.  Cheers America!

Budweiser-USA-can

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Norrona: Quality Outerwear In A Bright Package From Norway

norronaThe outdoor apparel world is chock full of companies all trying to carve out their niches in this competitive landscape.  On the top are companies like Arc’teryx , Patagonia and Marmot  who are focused on producing quality technical outerwear for people who actually need it.  Sealed zippers and 25k waterproof ratings are demanded for this upper level of gear.  Up until the last couple of years most of these companies only focused on performance and didn’t spend too much time worrying about looks.  Recently we have seen companies, like my boys over at Trew Gear, try to make performance outerwear that looks cool too.  Norrona is another such company and although not a new company, they are new to the USA, being offered exclusively through backcountry.com.  Their outerwear features Gore-Tex Pro shells with taped seams and everything you would expect from a $500 jacket.  They set themselves apart aesthetically with their super neon zippers, matched with equally as bright solid prints making their line-up loud but having the quality to back it up.

The one product I have purchased and tested is their 25L pack, the Narvik which retails for around $150.  When I bought the pack before the ski season, there were no reviews on it and only one product image.  I took a chance and so far i’m loving it.  You get everything you would expect from a quality backcountry pack: diagonal ski carry with adjustable width, internal shovel pocket, bladder compatible with room for hose in shoulder straps, beefy waist strap and plenty of straps and comfort adjustments.  One thing I love is the way the top zipper opens.  As someone who takes pictures in the backcountry, I am often taking my pack off to grab my camera.  The top zipper opens towards the back and not away so that items in the pack don’t flop out of the pack.  There is also a zipper on the side so that you can access things quickly without having to go through the top opening.  The straps and ergonomics of the pack are almost too good, making it hard to take the pack off as it is formed to my back so perfectly.  The materials used are all of high quality and of course the zippers catch a lot of eyes.  The size coming in at 25L is perfect for side-country jaunts or single day tours.  I have enough room for my shovel, probe, SLR camera, skins, extra layer, water bottle and a small lunch or snack bars.   Although there is a lot of competition in the pack world from the likes of Osprey, Ortovox, Dakine etc… this pack is well worth the price and a nice change up from the usual suspects.  If you are looking for new backcountry ski pack, I would definitely recommend this pack, if you can find one (looks like Backcountry is solid out).

Norrona Narvik 25L

norronanorrona

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New And Improved GearBurger.com – Sign Up To Get Custom Gear Alerts

Last summer I wrote about the launch of gearburger.com, which aggregated the multitude of daily gear sale sites.  This month they updated their service, making it even easier to monitor gear sales on the web.

Gear Burger, started 18 months ago by Chad Rosen and Rob Webb, monitors the inventory sets of web based outdoor gear retailers and sends price reduction alerts to users based on their brand and category preferences.  So if you tell Gear Burger that you like Patagonia and North Face ski gear, bags and casual clothing, Gear Burger will send you an alerts when the prices are reduced on these types of items.  Both avid snowboarders and web startup veterans, Chad and Rob started Gear Burger because they were frequently frustrated when they learned that they had missed a deal on snowboarding gear on the web.   Gear Burger currently monitors 2,000 brands and +20,000 products across the inventory sets of +25 outdoor retailer sites including REI.com, Patagonia.com, Backcountry.com.  The types of gear monitored by the site include skiing, snowboarding, road and mountain biking, running, hiking, camping, racks, bags and packs, paddling and more.

Can’t wait till that Patagonia Jacket you’ve been wanting goes on sale?  Don’t waste time searching the internet looking for sales, head on over to gearburger.com and let them do the work for you.

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Marine Layer: The Opening Of Their First Retail Store & Some Sweet New Products

The last time I talked about the guys over at Marine Layer, they were opening up a pop up shop in San Francisco to sling some of their new shirt designs.  Fast forward 3 months and their pop up shop is now turning into a full time retail shop complete with an expanded product line.  As I write this, they are hard at work sanding floors and re-wiring the shop to get it ready for the grand opening sometime in mid August.  Check their blog for the latest info along with an amusing video of them trying to figure out how to operate a floor sander.  The new store will be located at the same address as their pop up shop, 2209 Chestnut St. San Francisco, CA.

In order to fill the new digs, Marine Layer is expanding their product line.  Along with some new t-shirt and polo designs, they have unveiled their new hoodie, The Afternoon Hoodie.  In typical Marine Layer fashion, the hoodie is made from their super soft custom fabric with touches like re-inforced seams and my favorite, a hidden pocket inside the pouch pocket.  To top it off they took out the draw string in the hood because as they put it…..”you’re not a cat burglar”.

So if you live in San Francisco, stay tuned for their retail shop grand opening sometime this month and if not, head on over to their website and snag one of their new hoodies.

http://www.marinelayer.com/

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Warby Parker: Boutique Quality Eyewear For Just $95

Glasses are not cheap.  Anyone who needs glasses knows that by the time you go to the doctor, pick out some stylish frames and get the lenses, you are not walking out the door for less than a few hundred dollars.  That is, if you want something more stylish than the bargain frames at a Lens Crafters.  But why are frames so expensive?  If you think about it, frames are pretty basic and the materials used are not much more than plastic and cheap metals.  It seems like you are mostly paying for the names and the large mark ups that optical shops tack on.

It was only a matter of time before some entrepreneurs saw this and decided to stir up the eyewear world by creating a line of glasses that takes out the middle men and allows you to buy directly through them for under $100, including the prescription lenses.  With Warby Parker, you get boutique quality frames that are retro and stylish for a price that makes sense.  Although I love my Paul Smith frames I currently have, I don’t want to pay $300 for new frames, not including the lenses.  Warby has dozens of options that look just like my Paul Smiths, but at a price I don’t mind paying.  Although you can’t go to a store and try them on, they have a very clever “virtual try-on” feature which allows you to either upload a picture of your face or take one with your webcam and virtually try the frames on.  If you still want to physically try them on, they have a free home try on option where you can select up to 5 frames to be sent to you to test drive for a week and then pick the one pair that suits you best.  Since this is their first collection and it has been met with such a positive reaction, their stock is very low, so if they have the frames you want in stock you are in luck but if not, then hold tight, they will be ramping up their production as they move forward.

Not only are the frames cheap and stylish, they also have a Toms Shoes thing going on where they are giving away a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that is purchased.  So not only are you getting a good deal, you are helping someone in need.  Oh and if this all doesn’t sound good enough, they also offer free shipping and free returns.  To learn more and order yourself a pair of $95 frames and prescription lenses, head on over to http://www.warbyparker.com.

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Marine Layer Shirts: Cop A Feel

logoSimply put, Marine Layer shirts fit and feel amazing.  A new shirt company started by Mike Natenshon and based out of San Francisco, Marine Layer shirts are sure to become your new favorite shirt.  After his girlfriend threatened to dump out his old college t-shirts, Mike set out to make shirts that had that worn in, comfortable feel, but were new and wouldn’t be thrown out by his girl.  A lot of men take t-shirts and polos for granted, wearing whatever their mom gave them 5 Christmases ago and not really thinking too much about new purchases.  I myself have fallen into the trap of settling on Polos or t-shirts that never seem to fit right and always cost too much.  Marine Layer definitely gives the mens clothing world new hope and a new shirt from them will definitely score points with the ladies and be so comfortable, you won’t want to take it off.  The current lineup consists of an assortment of t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts and polos, all of which are super soft and made in the U.S.A.  The custom fabric is a blend of two yarns, Pima Cotton and MicroModal, produced by Lenzig AG.  Modal is a bio-based fabric that comes from recycled Beech Wood.  The result is a shirt that, as Mike set out to do, feels like an old college favorite but looks a whole lot better.  Not only is the fabric unique and super soft, the fit is guaranteed to be great as well.  As someone who has often found themselves in between sizes, I really appreciate their unique sizes that include smedium and marge.  I could go on and on about how sweet these shirts are, but I will cut this short and suggest that you check them out yourself.  If you aren’t in the area and don’t have a chance to cop a feel for yourself, you can get a free sample of the cloth to see just how nice it is.  With their fit finder, free shipping and free returns, you have no excuse not to try them out.  If you happen to live in San Francisco, their full time office/shop is on Polk St. but for the next 2 weeks they have a pop-up retail shop on Chestnut St.

So check out their stuff and ditch your generic shirts for these super comfortable shirts made by some great guys and manufactured right here in California.  http://www.marinelayer.com

Pop-up Shop Details:

Location: 2209 Chestnut St. between Pierce & Scott
Dates: Saturday May 1st – Wednesday May 12th
Hours: 11am – 7pm

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Need A Cheap Bike? Skip Craigslist And Head To Bikesdirect.com

If you live in a city like San Francisco, used bikes are actually quite pricy.  If you look on Craigslist or pop your head in a used bike shop, you will be surprised that $300 doesn’t really get you much more than an old worn down hardtail that they are trying to pawn off as “vintage”.

Biking to work in SF has been great, but for the past few months I was doing so on my fairly nice bike.  Anytime I would lock it up outside for a bit, I would get nervous and end up checking on it like a worried parent.  So I decided to retire my nice bike for city purposes and find a cheap commuter bike for around $300.  After I came to the above realization about Craigslist and the used bike shops, I found Bikesdirect.com.  The cheaper priced bikes don’t have the best parts and most of the companies are exactly name brands, but it seems like they all get good reviews.  Although you can get a bike for as low as $250, they also have a selection of high end bikes that are up to $3000 but still much cheaper than if you found them in a bike shop.   I ended up with a $349 single speed Mercier Kilo TT which I am loving (pictured above).  Even the guys at the local bike shop were impressed with it’s quality, considering the price point.  It may not last forever but it’s exactly what I needed.  Their customer service is great and they offer free shipping and no tax (unless you are in Texas).

So if you need a cheap bike or even a carbon road bike for a fraction of bike store prices, check out bikesdirect.com.

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Snugg Buds: The Answer To Generic Apple Earphones

Red Logo with large domain copy

Every iPhone or iPod you buy comes with matching Apple earphones, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them.  I never liked the standard Apple ear buds that came with my iPods, so over the years I have tried a variety of other brands.  From Sony to Panasonic to Scull Candy, i’ve never bought a pair of buds I loved that didn’t cost as much as the iPod itself.  Other than poor fit, my biggest complaint with most buds is the poor quality of the cords and the fact that they always tangle.  Snugg Buds are designed for active users and the cord is made of a material that is not as prone to tangling.  The cord feels more like string and less like cheap plastic which is awesome.  The materials and the quality of the speakers are better than most buds double in price.  Speaking of price they are very reasonable, the price of a pair of Snugg Buds ranges from $28.95 to $36.95 which is cheap for such a great little pair of headphones.  Best of all, a few of the models feature a clicker-mic for use with phones such as an iPhone or Blackberry.  When your iPhone rings while listening to your iTunes, music dims and one click of the mic will answer in-coming calls which is a great feature.

They come in a variety of colors, including some with bling and a sweet patriotic model.  The price includes 3 sets of spare ear-gels which allows you to customize your fit.  So ditch your generic white Apple buds and grab some  Snugg Buds from Southern California.

To get a pair check out their website at: http://snuggbuds.com/

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