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Dispatches : Gear

The Fastest Way to Add Winter Traction

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Historically, installing chains on your car to get over a mountain pass has been an awful task. Nearly always it involves crawling around under your car, usually in the middle of a storm or in deep and cold snow drifts, freezing your hands off. It's typically wet, cold, miserable, and dirty—and unavoidable. Chains are required on many Western passes and ski area access roads. No chains, and you head home or wait until the road is plowed and clear, and others get first tracks.

No more. Thule just introduced Easy Fit Snow Chains, which literally snap on with a lever and self tighten as you drive.

There are three easy ways to put the chains on, all of which you can do without taking off your gloves: 1. Extend the rigid arch, which means popping the chain open; 2. Lay the chain on the tire starting from the top; 3. Open up the pedal and push down with your foot to tension the chain.

And it’s just as easy to get them off.

Still don't believe how fast these are? A month ago, Thule snagged a Guinness Book World Record for most snow chains put in one minute. It took the Thule team about nine seconds to install each chain.

To make sure that even the most mechanically challenged can be successful, Thule packages the product in a nylon bag that you turn inside out and use as a mat when installing the chains. It has printed instructions and even marked dots where you should kneel for best positioning. It’s one more way Thule makes sure installing the Easy Fits is easy—and that you don’t lose the directions. Available now, $450; thule.com.

—Berne Broudy
@berneb

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Memoto Life Cam: When a GoPro Just Isn’t Enough

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If you feel like merely filming yourself when you’re going big isn’t enough, or maybe that you'd like to be the star of your very own Truman Show, check out Memoto’s 007-style camera, which constantly records your life with a photo snapped automatically every 30 seconds.

Made by a Swedish company that launched this project on Kickstarter and that hopes to give everyone "a true photographic memory," the Memoto cam captures your life in frames that can be “effortlessly searched, shared, and revisited” using a Web service or mobile application.

“Imagine if you could capture and re-live every memorable moment of your life,” said Martin Källström, CEO of Memoto. “With Memoto, you can effortlessly travel back in time to that moment when you met the love of your life, the day your daughter took her first step, or that night you laughed the night away with friends.”

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American Mountain Co.: U.S.-Made Alpine Gear With Style

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Mountains test your resilience. Cliffs and cold and striving for the summit push your physical and mental limits. Gravity and fear pull you down, while passion and determination push you higher. It is for these moments, these experiences, that the climber/mountaineer founders of American Mountain Co. design apparel.

Driven by a desire to make products with fortitude and inspired by passion for the experiences unique to the magnificient peaks, the company makes mountain wear reminiscent of a time when climbing was in its purest form and excellence was found in all aspects of a product—when performance and quality were as important as style and design.

American Mountain Co. uses high-tech materials combined with classic style for its products, all manufactured in the United States. Every single stitch of their wears is sewn by a craftsman who takes personal pride in each pass of the needle. And every garment is arduously tested to ensure you can rely on it for a lifetime. When a product is finally deemed perfect, the crafter signs the garment before it’s sent to you with American Mountain Co.'s lifetime guarantee.

The company is launching on Kickstarter now with two products: the No. 907 High-Altitude Hardshell Jacket and the No. 307 Mid-Altitude Windproof Fleece Jacket.

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Greenpeace Scolds Outdoor Apparel Makers for Chemical Use

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"Leave only footprints" may be the outdoor industry ethos, but Greenpeace says a study it recently conducted revealed troubling indications that the apparel made for outdoor recreation contains persistent chemicals, some of which are linked to negative health effects in both humans and animals.

For the study, Greenpeace commissioned two independent labs to analyze the waterproofing membranes applied to 14 different jackets and pants, which the organization purchased from a wide range of manufacturers, including The North Face, Marmot, Patagonia, and a number of companies popular in Europe, including Mammut and Jack Wolfskin. Greenpeace says the report highlights the need to ban PFCs from textile manufacturing.

The report focuses on perfluorochemicals (PFCs), a family of man-made compounds that are used in a range of industries. In outdoor clothing, PFCs are used in the manufacture of waterproof membranes and some types of PFCs have recently been regulated or are coming under regulation in some countries. The study found PFCs, in varying quantities, in all 14 samples. Also found were other chemicals that are known precursors to PFCs, and which are highly volatile, meaning they could convert to PFCs in the atmosphere.

Traces of PFCs are found around the globe—in us, in wildlife, and deep in the oceans. "We all carry parts-per-billion of some types of PFCs in our blood," says Craig Butt, a post-doctoral research fellow at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. Some are widely suspected endocrine (hormonal) system disruptors and are linked to fertility problems.

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Dress Like a Fisherman With Helly Hansen's Lerwick Slicker

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Professional fishermen have always known how to be ready for a storm. They dress for constant soaking by choppy seas, unanticipated and often torrential rains, pummeling winds, and mishaps that can range from stalled engines to tangled nets.

Now you can be ready, too.

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