The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Gear

Oscar Mayer Wake Up and Smell the Bacon Alarm

For the sake of your waistline, you probably don’t eat bacon every morning. But thanks to new device, you can now wake up daily to its tantalizing smell—without packing on the pounds.    

The Oscar Mayer Wake Up & Smell the Bacon app and device is exactly what you’d expect given the name. Plug the gadget into the bottom of your iPhone, set the alarm, and when it goes off, a bacon smell (accompanied by sizzling sounds) is released.

It's the best of bacon—without the calories—coming to your night stand from the Oscar Mayer Institute For the Advancement of Bacon.

Read More

This Camera Will Make Cycling Cool Again

Television footage of this year’s Tour de France was a reminder of just how poor a spectator sport cycling can be.

Sure, the race lacked drama because two major protagonists, Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, crashed out early. But even on a good year, I bet most viewers cue up the DVR and skip ahead to the last 10 or 15 minutes—or, best-case scenario, the final climb.

This year, however, saw a development that could finally add some intrigue: on-bike cameras. For the first time in history, Tour de France organizer ASO permitted video cameras to be mounted onto riders’ bicycles. 

The move followed the very first use of video cameras in the pro peloton earlier this spring. Footage from the Tour de Suisse in June, especially a video of the sprint finish on Stage 5, captured the hectic nature of the final few kilometers of a professional race. Likewise, a video shot by Giant-Shimano sprinter John Degenkolb on the first stage of the Tour of California gave a sense of what it takes to win at this level—well, almost win as Degenkolb took a razor thin second place on the stage to sprinter Mark Cavendish.

At the Tour, Shimano outfitted eight of its sponsored teams, including BMC, Giant-Shimano, Orica-GreenEdge, and Sky, with the company’s new Shimano CM-1000 camera. The resulting footage appeared on both the team’s pages as well as on the official Tour de France website.

{%{"image":"","caption":" "}%}

Several Garmin-Sharp riders were also equipped with its sponsor’s new VIRB Action Camera, which resulted in a series of first-person videos on the team website. The capture from Stage 7 is especially interesting as it overlays rider metrics like speed, heart rate, distance, and power collected by the VIRB via ANT+.

{%{"image":"","caption":" "}%}

The most unconventional first-person footage came from Europecar’s Kevin Reza. After a Lotto-Bellisol racer collided with a fan on the side of the road, Reza scooped up the spectator’s helmet cam, which had tumbled into the road, and filmed several minutes of the race before passing it to his team car.

The use of cameras in the peloton is partly a reflection of just how advanced the technology has become. At 180g, the Garmin VIRB isn’t smallest camera out there, but it captures 1080p HD video as well as GPS data and cycle-specific data such as heart rate and power. The Shimano CM-1000 captures similar high-quality footage and data and weighs just 86 grams. Given these units’ diminutive size, they can be mounted on the bars or below the saddle without much effect or impediment to a racer.

However the video these cameras capture provides arguably the most interesting way to watch pro cycling. They convey the fury and treacherousness of bike racing in a way that traditional footage shot from a motorcycle or helicopter cannot.

You see riders touching and bumping one another, get a feeling for just how tight and fast they are racing, and, thanks to the sound of yelling, heaving breathing, and camera shake while sprinting, register how difficult it must be. The recap from Stage 1 of the Tour conveys just how tough it was to stay upright in the final few kilometers of the race.

As good as the footage is, however, what’s now missing is the ability to stream live during a race. Watching firsthand footage after the fact is great, but it would be even better if television could cut back and forth between top view from a helicopter, front view from a motorcycle, and footage captured within the peloton while it happens.

“There are challenges, circling primarily around weight and battery life, that have to be resolved,” before live streaming is a reality, says Dustin Brady, marketing manager at Shimano America.

He explains that while the cameras are tiny now, it will take some time before batteries will be both small enough and have a long enough life to last the duration of an entire stage. The addition of a radio transmitter will also add weight and bulk. “We are talking about professional cyclist needing to climb the Col du Galibier or Col du Tourmalet or ride for five hours in pouring rain. Additional weight matters.”

That might sound discouraging, but the fact is the technology is only in its infancy: Both the VIRB and the CM-1000 were launched this year. Meanwhile, the decision to allow on-bike video at the Tour was even more recent. “We only found out after the Tour had started that the team could use action cameras,” says Amy Johnson, the media relations associate at Garmin, “So I think it was fairly sporadic this year.”

In a sport that tends to be resistant to change, the fact that these cameras have been adopted as quickly as they have is heartening. Hopefully governing bodies will move forward with similar programs, and manufacturers will fast track development. If not, television coverage of pro cycling may live—and perhaps die—by the DVR.

Read More

NEMO Coda 0

Yes, there's ample justification for the shockingly high price tag.

For starters: stretch stitching in the legs, a DWR-treated shell, and water-resistant 850-fill goose down. Meaty internal draft collars and an overstuffed hood add to the zero-degree Coda's cold-weather chops.

But the bag's versatility impressed us most. Testers were comfortable from a chilly five degrees to a breezy 55, thanks to the Coda's "gills," 
a pair of slits down the torso. Unzip them to vent, or leave them closed to lock in the heat.

Bottom line: This could be your year-round sleeping bag. 0˚; 2.9 lbs


Read More

Disco Hammock from Betabrand

The best way to spice up your next camping trip? Bust out the Disco Hammock from Betabrand. (The company also carries disco-ball shorts, pants, a hoodie, and a tuxedo jacket if you want to go all in.) 

Robert Murdoch, the man behind the sparkly swing, collaborated with ENO to turn its Doublenest Hammock into a rocking world of shiny lights and flared pants, or you know, just a cooler-looking hammock for the woods.

The comfy nest, made from Betabrand's Disconium material, is lightweight and quick drying, and easily supports up to two people. It just might heat things up a bit during your next backcountry adventure.


Read More

The Tour de France for Women

Arguably the most marquee event in women’s cycling is taking place this weekend, and the majority of people probably don’t even know about it. On Sunday, after a 16-year hiatus, female riders will once again share in the prestige of the Tour de France at a one-day race called La Course.

Before the Tour steams into Paris for its concluding drag race down the Champs Élysées, some of the top women’s teams in the world will line up for a criterium on those same roads. The racers will complete 13 laps on the same cobbled circuit that the men finish on, for a total of 90 kilometers.

The race is the brainchild of journalist–turned–road-racer Kathryn Bertine, along with two of the world’s top female racers, Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos. The group, which has continued to add big names to its ranks as the movement progressed, has been working on making La Course happen since 2012.

Given cycling’s staid and traditional outlook, it wasn’t easy. It took a petition, which garnered more than 100,000 signatures, to get the attention of ASO, the parent company of the Tour de France.  

In some ways, La Course is a milestone—the first time that women have competed on the same stage as men. Using the same infrastructure and media as the Tour’s final stage, it will put women’s racing in front of one of its biggest-ever audiences short of the Olympics. Prize money for the race is €22,500, the same amount that the men earn for winning a stage at the Tour. It will be broadcast live, even here in the U.S., where any cycling coverage—male or female—is rare.  

On the other hand, the event also reinforces the lack of parity between men’s and women’s cycling. Compared to the 21-day, 2,300-mile extravaganza of the Tour, La Course is hardly a drop in the bucket.

And the course itself isn’t even as long as the men’s day, which is considered by most the easiest stage in the Tour. And it’s being held five full hours before the Tour stage, long before the men even take their start, meaning that the crowds and visibility will inevitably be much lower than they otherwise could have been. Even the TV representation is questionable. In three weeks of watching the Tour, we’ve yet to see La Course promoted.

This is hardly the first time that women’s cycling has gotten short shrift. Previous attempts at a women’s edition of the Tour, then known as La Grand Boucle Féminine, suffered from underfunding, poor organization, and a lack of media coverage and support, which eventually lead to the event’s demise. There was the Exergy Tour, which was billed as the great hope for women’s cycling in the U.S. when it launched in 2012, but failed even before its second year after the sponsor pulled out. And of course there were the infamous comments of Pat McQuaid just two years ago, when he was president of the UCI, that he didn’t believe that women’s cycling was worthy of a minimum wage. 

The fact is, while many have called La Course an equalizer for women’s cycling, it is, at best, a baby step. A few months ago, I was talking about to Evelyn Stevens, one of the top women’s US road racers with Specialized Lululemon and I sensed the same frustration.

Stevens was careful to say that she’s excited about the event and grateful for the exposure and chance. But there was also the underlying frustration that where ASO could throw its might behind women’s cycling and really help to promote it, they have created what’s little more than a parade.

Don’t get us wrong: We’re thrilled to see the best women on the planet throw down on the world’s biggest stage, even if it is hours before the main event. With the likes of Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley, Georgia Bronzini, and Elisa Longo Borghini, the race is sure to be every bit as exciting as the men’s event—perhaps moreso given how many of the favorites have been struck down from this year’s Tour. You can bet we’ll be tuning in.

We just hope that La Course will prove to be a stepping stone to bigger things, as Vos says it should be, and not just another high-profile misfire.

One day, we hope that little girls everywhere might know the phrase, “Vive le Tour Féminin!”

Read More

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Outside GOOur hottest adventure-travel tips and trips. Sent occasionally.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

to Outside
Save Over

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!







Previous Posts




Blog Roll

Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.