Review: The Other Stuff

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Outside Magazine, March 1999

Review: The Other Stuff


BOB Sport Utility Stroller
Wonderful as they are for springing parent and child from domestic confinement, most jogging-style strollers are meant to stay on paved trails. A notable new exception comes from a company named BOB, which brings the baby carriage into the off-road age with its Sport Utility Stroller ($359; 800-893-2447). The SUS is equipped with bona fide shock absorbers: Two elastomer-sprung, air-damped units keep the rear wheels moving independently over ruts and rocks and sticks, making it the first truly dirt-worthy pram. To further cushion the ride, the stroller's 16-inch, lightweight aluminum wheels are clad with chubby, knobby tires. Not only do the wheels hold their line on uneven terrain, but the front is outfitted with a powerful caliper brake that stops the rig instantly. (Even, for example, on a bumpy 30-degree descent, much to my 16-month-old son's breathless delight.) The SUS can cart up to 70 pounds, thanks to its squat build, woven acrylic seat, and strong aluminum bones. The whole thing folds into a suitcase-size package, so you can easily stow it in the trunk. It comes with a sun canopy, and for an extra $46 you can line the seat with cozy faux-sheepskin. And while the two-foot-wide SUS is too unwieldy for snaking along tight singletrack, it flies on doubletrack and forest roads. Perhaps best of all, it has a fender for the front wheel, keeping dirt out of your grinning toddler's mouth.
ù Gretchen Reynolds

Safewater Anywhere Personal Water Filter
The thinking behind the safewater anywhere is marvelously simple: It's a water bottle with a filter built right in. And unlike traditional pump filters, which often seem to require three hands, the Safewater Anywhere (800-675-4401) is easy to use. You just unscrew the bottom of the bottle, scoop it full of suspect water, close it, and chug ù safe in the knowledge that its cleansing capabilities are trustworthy. A 25-micron nylon mesh screen at the bottom catches pesky particles before they can gum up the bottle's workings. At the other end, a watertight cap shields the drinking nozzle from microorganisms. Give it a squeeze and you push water through a two-micron filter that blocks protozoa and bacteria, and then absorbs pollutants such as pesticides. Safewater Anywhere won't stop viruses, which cause such diseases as hepatitis, so it's not the best option for Third World travel. And given the bottle's slight volume ù it's available in one-liter ($35) and 1.5-liter ($40) sizes ù you'll want to hang on to your pump. Still, it comes through when you need a quick drink and don't happen to have a third hand free.
ù Alex Frankel
Classics: The Marker Spring Glove
Nobody had to tell me to pick up a pair of Marker Spring Gloves before my first backcountry ski outing. I'd seen them around ù on the hands of patrollers pulling sleds, snowplow drivers putting on chains, and other working folk. On this maiden voyage, my guides wore them and so did I, headed up Rock Creek drainage on borrowed randonn‰e gear for three days in the eastern Sierra. I'd just moved out from the lowly elevations of Vermont, and so my new Markers were in for a certain amount of abuse: Namely, they saved my hands from jagged rocks when I found myself on all fours, heaving with acute mountain sickness from having climbed too high too fast. It was trial by fire for both of us, and by trip's end we were both worn and beaten, and yet somehow also triumphant.

Neither thick and awkward like gauntlet-style mountaineering gloves nor thin and bereft of padding like leather work gloves, the Markers strike an ideal balance. Though they're well constructed, with double-stitched seams and tightly woven (read "snag-proof") spandex on the backs of the hands, their components aren't especially fancy. The leather on the palms and fingers isn't Pittards. The thin layer of insulation isn't Thinsulate. And the hook-and-loop closures on the elastic wrist straps aren't Velcro. Yet when the no-name ingredients are married, the result is the perfect glove, at least for any occasion when the mercury is pushing 30 or so. Much of the appeal is how they come to feel like a second skin. Buttery soft at first, as you wear them they become dog-ear supple and lined like the palms of your hands. When you're on the job you scarcely have to remove them, whether you're lacing up hockey skates, checking your oil, or just trying to get at that frozen Snickers in your parka pocket.

The Spring Glove didn't start out with such high aspirations. In 1984, when Marker wasn't yet the ski-binding juggernaut it is today, the company launched an accessory line to build brand awareness. Since then it has sold nearly a million pairs of gloves, partly because Marker left well enough alone. (The verdict is out on a modification to the most recent edition, a waterproof-breathable membrane. The price is still $40; 800-453-3862.) Competitors have come, but they've mostly gone, unable to vie on fit or durability. Or maybe it's that no other mitt could ever match the Spring Glove's most prized of attributes: its ability to pack a firm, weighty, perfectly round snowball every single time.
ù Steve Casimiro

Photographs by Clay Ellis

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!