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Skiing and Snowboarding : Gear

Ciclotte Exercise Bike

Yes, this luxury exercise bike looks more like something that should be in the 2012 sci-fi thriller Prometheus (where it actually appeared), than in your living room. But the one-wheeled, unicycle-like trainer is a functional—and stylish—addition to your indoor gym.  

The carbon-fiber stationary bike, designed by Italian company Ciclotte, is a high-tech, style-savvy trainer. Features include: a proprietary dual satellite epicycloid transmission to maximize resistance; a touch-screen display, which lets you choose between 12 program settings; an adjustable saddle; and a minimalist design meant to mimic your position on a road bike.  

According to the company, it’s about as close as you can get to actually riding on the road. And hey, it looks cooler than most high-end road bikes out there. It’s also got a price tag to match.   

$12,000, ciclotte.com

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The 5 Best Hammocks for Summer

Buying new gear is a commitment, both financially and emotionally. Kind of like dating. Our idea of the perfect date? Hanging in the trees with a cold brew and shaky cell service. But that’s the easy part. Deciding what to hang in is a bit more challenging.

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We took these five camping hammocks into the forest above Santa Fe to watch the first wildfire of the season burn on the horizon (it was very romantic). Now that we’re back on terra firma, we can give a detailed roundup of our favorite nests. Need a summer fling? Here you go. 

Byer Easy Traveller ($50)

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The Easy Traveller is the hammock equivalent of a no-pressure first date. It’s also easy on the wallet. The parachute nylon fabric feels flimsy at first, but it proved durable when it scraped against trees during setup. And it’s plenty supportive when holding weight. The cutouts near the built-in hanging mechanism provide ample room to move around. It’s big enough for two, but just barely, so get cozy.

Attaching it between two trees was simple and only required looping the rope around the trunk and through a metal adjuster—no knot-tying needed. The light-colored body got dirty quickly, but the material is easy to wipe clean. We liked that everything needed to use the Easy Traveller was included, and it all packed into a small sack that you can toss into a backpack.

$50, ByerOfMaine.com

ENO DoubleNest ($70)

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The DoubleNest is for lovers or those who just want extra space to lounge. Our tester took this one climbing at a local crag and found it light enough to haul up the wall and unobtrusive when hanging off a harness. Setup is easy enough while suspended on a rock face or when assembling it between two trees. Like the Roo (below), loop the webbing ($29, not included) around a tree trunk and hook the carabiners through the slots. 

Bug nets and rainflies are available to customize this nylon nest and protect you from the elements. Pro tip: The supplied carabiners “aren’t burly enough to catch a whipper.” It’s a good idea to swap them out for hardware that’s up for the task before taking this one climbing. 

$70, EaglesNestOutfittersInc.com

Kammok Roo ($100)

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The Roo is a great all-around hammock with some awesome upgrade options. You can buy the Dragonfly mosquito net, which encompasses the entire hammock while still affording plenty of room to sit up. Then there’s the weather shield, featuring Kammok’s own sun-, snow-, and rain-proof fabric.

Nice touch: The Roo was the easiest nest to set up. All it required was swinging the straps ($29) around a tree and snapping the carabiners through one of the loops. The ripstop nylon is tough, and the hammock is spacious enough for two people (if you’re ready for that, of course).

$100, Kammok.com

Hennessy Deep Jungle Hammock ($220)

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Looking to get a little wild? Check out the Deep Jungle, suited for the “buggiest jungles on the planet.” The mosquito-proof ripstop fabric is durable and lightweight and has a built-in mesh zipper over the top for 360-degree protection and breathability.

Slide in the included insulation pad for chilly nights, or pitch the detachable rainfly for stormy ones. The Deep Jungle is best suited for solo pursuits, so look to the Safari Deluxe model for suspended camping with a pal.

$220, HennessyHammock.com

Clark NX-250 Hammock ($429)

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If you’re in it for the long haul, the NX-250 is the hammock for you. At $429, it’s not cheap, and it took more effort than the others to hang (though our ineptitude could be to blame), but once it was up, it was worth it. A pole system on either end of the hammock creates a roomy nylon cocoon and built-in ways to customize: Lie in it like a basic hammock, zip the mesh layer shut to keep bugs at bay (the fabric is mosquito resistant), or close the waterproof layer to stay dry. (You can put up the rainfly in severe weather.) Plenty of pockets will keep beer and other necessities at hand.

The NX-250 is more like a hanging tent (hence the price) than a hammock. It can also be used in cold weather with an insulated liner (not included). Want to take it to the next level with a significant other? Clark’s Camo Vertex has room for two.

$429, JungleHammock.com

Honorable Mentions:

The Disco Hammock ($108, ENO and Betabrand)

For the couple who like to keep it funky, the Disco hammock merges Betabrand’s “disconium” fabric with ENO’s DoubleNest design. We think its super-reflective outer could be good for keeping unwanted wildlife away, though it will likely attract other partygoers. The more the merrier, right? 

Byer Traveller Lite ($24, ByerOfMaine.com)

For loungers looking for cheap thrills, the Traveller Lite is the younger sibling of the Easy Traveller and a simple option for first-timers and minimalists.

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Tag Heuer Introduces World's First Self-Charging Phone

What happens when one of the world’s leading watchmakers sets its sights on mobile? You get a $12,000 “infinite-power” phone that runs on light.

Why, you might be asking, would Tag Heuer—known for its opulent chronographs, Brad Pitt ads, and general bling—suddenly venture into the mobile world with this self-charging device, called the Meridiist Infinite?

According to the company, it wants to endow an industry known for short-lived products with a phone you don’t throw away every few years. “Products become obsolete very quickly and are often lacking in quality,” says Stanislas Dupuydauby, brand manager at Tag Heuer. “The time has come for a mobile phone to be endowed with a sense of permanence.”

The Infinite self-charges with both natural and artificial light. Transparent photovoltaic cells located behind the sapphire crystal display automatically convert light into electricity.

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Say you’re lost in the woods with a phone signal but no battery. Just 30 minutes' worth of solar charging yields about 90 seconds of talk time—enough to make that emergency call. Those same capabilities also make it a smart choice for travelers who don’t have time to go back to their rooms to recharge their mobiles. 

The Infinite is good for seven hours of talk time at full battery. It’s packed with more than 400 mechanical components, many of which were inspired by the company’s timepieces and are placed into the phone by hand. Not surprisingly, however, the biggest engineering feat is its self-charging capability.

“The main challenge was designing a solar cell able to bring enough power to charge the mobile phone,” Dupuydauby says. Tag Heuer teamed with Sunpartner Technologies, a French company that specializes in solar energy, to make the device.

The key breakthrough is what Sunpartner calls WYSIPS—“what you see is a photovoltaic surface.” The WYSIPS are nearly transparent, half-millimeter-thick screens that can turn any surface into a solar panel.

That means you can make a phone produce its own energy without altering its appearance. The trick? To make a material that’s both transparent and can generate solar power on a nonphotovoltaic surface. After two years of tinkering, Sunpartner discovered that by making WYSIPS from microscopic lenses, it could make these tiny screens about 90 percent transparent—and very low profile.

There is a caveat, though, and it’s a big one. This puppy is a feature phone—meaning it lacks Internet access, GPS, and all the other conveniences that the Snapchatting, Tinder-trawling populace now considers essential. The phone offers stuff like a world clock, currency converter, calendar, and calculator. But Uber, Vine, Spotify, and Shazam? There’s no app for that.

Also, with a luxury brand comes a luxury price: 8,900 euros, or more than $12,000. (Hey, it is Tag Heuer, right?)

While it may be a Yelp-less feature phone that will likely run as much as a six-month European backpacking trip, the Infinite could also signal the dawn of a new age as far as device charging goes.

For starters, photovoltaic cells could lead to even more phones like the Infinite, and they could add even more features to self-charging phones. “The potential future applications are numerous,” Dupuydauby says. “The phone could maintain a permanent battery reserve. So, critical applications would be guaranteed, even if the battery is dead: remote payments or e-boarding passes, for example."

What’s next for Sunpartner? It's collaborating with a consortium of French researchers and manufacturers to take photovoltaic tech to the next level—by turning it into textiles. By 2019, we could start to see smart clothes that can produce energy from light, the company says.  

The idea is to create energy-autonomous gear that retains the same aesthetic as normal outdoor gear. Some prototypes the group has in store include a solar motorized awning and sun-powered outdoor recreation equipment such as a backpack and protective tarpaulin.

Take a tent, where this photovoltaic yarn could be connected to an electronic chip that converts sunlight into energy for, say, a GPS. While you’re throwing steaks on the grill, your device is solar charging inside your smart shelter. 

For Dr. Yang Yang, an engineering professor at UCLA who studies self-charging solar cells, Sunpartner’s technology is a game changer—especially for outdoor gear. “In the future, you could have a surfboard laminated with transparent solar cells. It could be used as a power collector, generating solar energy when you’re not using it for surfing,” Yang says. He also points to gear like head-mounted action cams that could be powered by the sun while you’re filming. 

Of course, self-charging tech doesn’t make the concept of electrical chargers totally obsolete. There will be times when you don’t have access to sufficient light sources, but Yang thinks solutions to even that obstacle are possible. Remember the solar-powered tent example? If the fabric collects energy throughout the day, it could store that electricity for later use.

For now, though, backpackers and campers (with lots of disposable income) can roll with Tag Heuer’s solar-powered, Faberge egg–priced Meridiist Infinite, which is expected to hit stores in July. 

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Do Dogs Need Sunglasses?

Uh no, not really. But that doesn't mean you should put away the shades for good. 

Humans wear sunglasses to reduce ultraviolet exposure—which can lead to age-related cataracts—to our eyes. Dogs, on the other hand, have a shorter life span and therefore don't develop UV light damage in their eyes.

Dogs still get cataracts, or blurry, clouded vision, but they're either inherited, caused by diabetes, or develop because of continued lens growth during old age, says Robert English, an animal eye care veterinarian. “Because of their deeper set eyes [in most breeds at least] and their heavier brow, their eyes are more shaded [by their brows] and have less of a direct angle to the sun than our eyes,” English says. 

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But sunglasses may still help old pups or ones with certain eye diseases. In this case, English recommends Doggles, or dog goggles designed for your canine companion. “Older dogs with early age-related cataracts arguably probably have slightly better vision outside on a sunny day if they wear polarized Doggles."

Denise Lindley, a veterinary ophthalmologist, said dogs with Pannus, a disease of the cornea, also could benefit from Doggles because of the decreased UV exposure. “A typical case would be a dog in Colorado that hikes a lot with its owner,” Lindley says. 

Take note: Doggle protection only goes so far. Veterinarian James Hagedorn says dog sunglasses do not provide protection against debris, so they won't help if your dog is hanging her head out the car window. 

If you do want to go down the Doggles route, you can purchase a pair from a variety of retailers, including Petco. DoggieShades, another canine sunglasses retailer, offers $15 sunglasses with an adjustable strap for your dog. 

Bottom line: dogs don't need sunglasses, but if you want to protect your old dog’s eyes or you want your dog to make a fashion statement at the park, there's no harm letting her sport a pair of sunglasses.

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