Beautiful, custom-made bikes for the city.     Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Bicycles

Heritage Bicycles

Stylish, sturdy commuter bikes

For those who appreciate a marriage of function and form, look no further than Heritage Bicycles in Chicago.  

The company builds stylishly sturdy bikes that are custom made to your own specs and design. They also come with top-notch components. From a forged frame of high-tensile American steel to state-of-the-art parts like Sturmey-Archer hubs, Brooks saddles and grips, a Gimondi crankset, and Soma Lauterwasser handlebars, the ride is as efficient as the look is classic.

I want the Chief “Legacy Edition”, which is tricked out with extra touches like front and rear racks over Woody’s handmade walnut fenders. While it already has Tektro brakes and Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires, I’d still probably customize here and there. As a working commuter, I might add a third gear, a seat bag, maybe some roll-up panniers. Pick my favorite color, then accessorize a bit.

And that’s the point. At Heritage Bicycles, you build the bike with the company to make the machine your own. And they're as beautiful to behold as they are practical to live with—form, function, and sweet rideability. What more can you ask for?

While the company is proud to be producing the first completely Chicago-made bikes since Schwinn moved away in the 1970s, Heritage serves up more than great rigs. 

Coffee and riding are a natural match, and Heritage Bicycles carries Portland’s Stumptown coffee—along with tasty treats from some of Chicago’s best kitchens—in its hybrid bike-coffee shop. So get a cup of joe and have a mechanic build the road bike of your dreams.    

Not in Chicago? No worries, Heritage ships. You can create your bike online or order by phone. You’ll just miss out on the awesome coffee. 

From $799,


The Flir One     Photo: Courtesy of FLIR Systems

Flir One Infrared iPhone Camera

For hyper-aware types who scan bushes with an infrared camera for bad guys—and for those who just want to boost energy efficiency.

If you’re a fan of cop shows or military dramas, you’ve no doubt seen ghostlike pictures of bright white bad guys in the night that are produced by forward looking infrared radar (FLIR) cameras.

The biggest company in the FLIR game is Oregon-based Flir Systems, which, until this year, made products exclusively for professional, military, and homeland security applications. But now comes the consumer model Flir One that snaps onto your iPhone and uses two dime-sized cameras to create a stereo image of both the visible world and its heat signature.

Unlike night vision goggles, which shoot out a beam of invisible infrared light to illuminate the scene in front of the camera, a Flir camera effectively sees the signatures created by heat sources like warm bodies and car exhausts. “With Flir One, we’re creating a category,” says Bruce Cumming, the company’s marketing director. “Our goal is to make it as ubiquitous as GPS is today.” 

The camera has a ways to go before it’s widely adopted, but you can see the possibilities. The most useful application probably has to do with energy efficiency. The review unit that the company sent was great for locating drafty windows and ghost-power sources based on the heat generated at the outlet and in the power converters. And a spot-meter function allows you to take reasonably accurate temperature readings on remote objects—for example, if you want to see if a ceiling-mounted air-conditioning duct is actually pumping out cold air. 

Once you get beyond home efficiency, though, its uses seem a bit less concrete. As far as seeing bad guys or animals in the night, the camera has a limited range. The farthest I was able to see my dog in the dead of night—he showed up as a tiny red blip—was 62 yards. That’s not quite far enough to be able to scan a dark forest for a lost hiker or a downed big game animal, but it's far enough to see somebody lurking in the bushes if you're the hyper-aware type who's apt to be scanning bushes with an infrared camera.

The Flir One’s only technical shortcoming is that you can’t charge your phone while it’s connected. Future models will no doubt figure out how to charge the camera battery and the phone battery simultaneously.



This cruel band shocks you if you don't exercise.     Photo: Courtesy of Paklov

Pavlok Fitness Band

This cruel new wearable will shock you if you don't exercise.

If the reward-based philosophy of the fitness tracking industry hasn't kept you from skipping workouts, it might be time to try a different approach. 

Enter Pavlok, the habit-forming, accelerometer-equipped wearable that won't let you avoid your goals. The neon-yellow wristband helps track fitness benchmarks and uploads progress to an app. But instead of only rewarding positive behaviors, Pavlok (think Pavlov) is a taskmaster that uses negative reinforcement. 

Pavlok users who do what they set out to can earn money and prizes, but as the fitness band's creators explain on their website, "The carrot isn’t enough—sometimes you need the stick."

Hit the snooze button twice or skipped the gym? Bluetooth 4.0-capable Pavlok shames you on Facebook by letting friends know you're sleeping in or slacking off. You can also sync with a buddy and monitor each other's progress—if you've fallen off the wagon, your friend can remotely shock you or require you to pay a fine.

The punishing wearable is the brainchild of entrepreneur Maneesh Sethi, the same guy who hired someone to slap him every time he logged into Facebook so he'd associate social networking with pain. Sethi believes negative reinforcement helps get the ball rolling, and positive reinforcement works when we're already succeeding. 

Pavlok won't be available until 2015, but the team behind the wearable has already shocked a few hundred beta-testers (and welcomes more to sign up on its website). 



Slightly taller than inch, the Cube can go anywhere.     Photo: Courtesy of Polaroid

Polaroid's Cube

An HD camera in your pocket

In case you're looking for yet another action camera to add to your shopping list, check out Polaroid's new Cube

While the first units debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the latest version of the cute cam has evolved to feature upgraded shooting ability and some sleeker aesthetics. The big draw: the $100 price tag.  

At that price, the lightweight, colorful Cube is one helluva deal. It has a six-megapixel sensor that can shoot at 1080p wrapped in a package that's just a hair longer than an inch wide. The Cube can also record up to 90 minutes of video on microSD cards—that's comparable to competitors that are three times as expensive.

With a variety of mounts and accessories already in the works (including a waterproof housing), the Cube can tag along for almost any adventure. Plus, there's a built-in magnet that lets the camera stick to any metal surface. Available in September. 



Upgrade your base camp with the portable hot tub from The Original Nomad.     Photo: Courtesy of The Original Nomad

Nomad Collapsible Hot Tub

Base camp just got a good deal more luxurious.

Ever wish that after a long day of hiking you could soak your bones in a hot tub? We sure have.

Enter the Nomad Collapsible Hot Tub, a portable, 225-gallon vinyl hot tub that would be a sweet upgrade to your next campsite. The tub has a 60-inch diameter and measures 24 inches high, but packs down into a 16x16-inch dry bag.

To set up the tub, the Nomad team recommends you pick a site close to a water source and then use Honda’s WX10 lightweight water pump (or something similar) to fill it.

Once the hot tub is full, a stainless steel heater coil heats and circulates the water. The coil, fueled by either propane or firewood, can heat 100 gallons of 50-degree water to 100 degrees in about an hour.  

$650 for the tub and frame; $725 for the water heater coil,


The YardStash III     Photo: Courtesy of YardStash

YardStash III Storage Tent

The storage solution you never knew existed.

Earlier this summer, I found the dream apartment. Big windows, killer views, and easy access to some of Santa Fe’s best-known mountain bike trails. 

The only problem: lack of storage space. With seven bikes and three pairs of skis, this meant the dream apartment was a no-go unless I built my own gear shed (not feasible, considering my lack of home-ec skills) or bought a DIY model from a place like Home Depot (expensive).  

Then I stumbled on the YardStash, an outdoor storage unit guaranteed to keep your stuff dry and big enough to hold two bikes. And it only cost $130!? I’ll take two, said I.

YardStash (the company) sells one product currently: the YardStash III. It’s essentially a super burly tent with heavy-duty UV-protected polyester, an industrial-grade vinyl tarpaulin roof, a reinforced floor, sealed seams, and strong zippers.

If you’ve ever set up a camp tent, you’ll intuitively know how to set up the YardStash. Two of us pitched the unit in about 10 minutes by following the simple, included directions.  

At 74 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 65 inches tall, I found the YardStash easily accommodates two road bikes, plus two folded camp chairs, a tent in a stuff sack, a tarp and roof-rack bars. It takes a bit more finagling to fit two mountain bikes, but it’s easy enough once you get the right wheel alignment. I have a small and large Yeti SB95 in one YardStash, plus two backpacks and a tarp, with room to spare.

So far, the YardStash has lived up to its rain-proof promise: we’ve had a dozen heavy thunderstorms roll through Santa Fe since I set up the tent, which has kept the gear bone-dry. Other than some fading, it’s held up well during a month exposed to the hot, dry climate of New Mexico. And I've found that it keeps the bikes surprisingly cool even when sitting in direct sunlight. 

Now, I haven’t tested the tent in the winter, but if you live in the snowy high country, I suspect this won’t be the best solution for you. (Having any tent sit in a few feet of snow for several months isn’t a recipe for success.) I would also advise those living in high crime areas to look for another option: the YardStash’s biggest downside is the lack of security. It's a tent, after all. 

But if you live in a place with a relatively mild climate and little crime, I wholeheartedly recommend the YardStash. It costs about one-tenth of many Home Depot units, and is much lower-commitment than building your own shed.     



An affordable sleeping bag best suited for wet climes.     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

Mountain Hardwear Ratio 32

A top-tier down sleeping bag that handles rain for only $230?!? We’ll take it!

While the untreated down bags on a rainy test trip became soggy, the 40-degree Ratio's feathers, which are coated with a water-repellent material, stayed lofty, even when our tent was dripping with condensation. (The water-repellent treatment on the bag's shell helped.)

We were also impressed with the innovative diamond-shaped baffles, which held the 650 fill in place and packed surprisingly small. Our only beef was with the main zipper, which, despite anti-snag panels, tended to catch when we were in a hurry.

Bottom line: A versatile, well-priced bag that best suited for wet climes. 32˚; 1.9 lbs 



There's only so much a watch can do when you're right in the tube, but the Glassy Pro has some great features for your pre- and post-ride.     Photo: Glassy Pro

Glassy Pro Surf Watch

It might actually improve your surfing.

Surfing is about to get a bit easier—or at least a bit more high-tech. A new smartwatch called the Glassy Pro, currently in development, is designed to improve your surfing. 

Even if it doesn’t deliver on that promise, we have to admit the watch is packed with cool features. Once you arrive at the beach, a GPS chip identifies exactly where you are. When you’re out on the water, the gadget records details such as the speed of the wave, the number of waves you’ve ridden, total distance covered, and your time on the board.

If you’re in a group, everyone can connect over Bluetooth to compare results or see a ranking for who’s logged the best runs. At home, sync up with the existing Glassy Pro surf tracking site and share your results. There’s also a mobile app for iPhone iOS and Android phones. 

One of the watch’s coolest features? A weather forecast and surf predictor, designed to take some of the guesswork out of deciding when to surf. There are no details yet about the watch colors or sizes, but the campaign to help fund the gadget begins this September.



The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sorcerer     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sorcerer

The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sorcerer goes from hauler to super-long hauler and can also be stripped down to a day-mission sack. Call it magic.

They should have named this pack the Shapeshifter. It quickly expands from 40 to 55 liters without adding top-heavy bulk. Or you can pull out the back support—a foam insert that also serves as a minimalist sleeping pad or emergency splint—and it lightens up to a scant two pounds ten ounces.

Testers found the Sorcerer comfortable and highly functional in all configurations. "I loved the way it cinched down," said one. "Even when I had a lighter load, it didn't feel like overkill."

Constructed from ultrastrong, high-performance polyethlene fiber, this top-loader easily endured squeezes through Utah slot canyons.

Bottom line: A single bag that acts like three—which explains the price. 3.5 lbs 



Too bad it's just a one-off project, right?     Photo: Courtesy of MINI

Mini Paceman Adventure Concept

A Mini pick-up truck?

Say hello to the newest model from the company that brought you the Mini Cooper—the Paceman Adventure concept.

This weird-looking cousin of the Paceman has a truck bed, rugged suspension, and higher clearance than its Mini relative. It also comes with off-road tires, a roof rack with mounted lights, a snorkel, and all-wheel drive.  

Although this Mini is technically a pick-up, it’s also been called a cute, “tiny truck,” and even a “trucklette.” You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’d be willing to replace your Toyota 4Runner.

Unfortunately (or not?), the Paceman Adventure concept won’t ever go into production. It’s a one-off project from a group of MINI apprentices who worked on it at BMW’s German factories.   


The Fjällräven Abisko     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

Fjällräven Abisko Jacket

Staying dry doesn’t have to mean looking like you’re on a mountaineering expedition. Case in point, the waxed-canvas Fjallraven Abisko.

Founded in Sweden in 1960, Fjällräven first brought its classy waxed-canvas outerwear to North America in 2009. In the Abisko, the company pairs its trademark fabric on the shoulders and front with a soft shell on the back and sides to create a unique, versatile jacket.

While the leather zipper pulls lend the Abisko a note of casual, urban style, it performs surprisingly well on the trail. The Greenland-wax-infused, tightly woven canvas sheds rain and blocks wind extremely well, while stretchy synthetic material in the rest of the jacket strikes the perfect balance between protection and breathability.

Bottom line: A great combination of style and performance. 1 lb 



You asked and the gods have delivered–a zero-calorie way to wake up to bacon every morning.     Photo: Courtesy of Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer Wake Up and Smell the Bacon Alarm

The best part of waking up? The savory smell of bacon coming from your, uh, iPhone.

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.


The Nemo Coda 0     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

NEMO Coda 0

There’s good reason for the shocking $700 price tag: comfortable in temps from 55 degrees down to 5 degrees and able to fend off moisture, it’s the only bag you’ll need year-round.

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



A test shot with the SPL housing while fishing in New Mexico.     Photo: Nick Kelley

SPL’s GoPro Water Housing

Get the surf shot you’ve been dreaming of.

Ever wonder how surf photographers get that cool half-in-half-out-of-the-water shot as the surfer rides by? The answer: an underwater housing with a dome port—essentially a big glass bubble on the end of a lens that widens the camera’s point of view.

While these setups can cost much more than $2,000 for large cameras and DSLRs, there is a more affordable option for your GoPro thanks to SPL Water Housings

Fitted to a small handle, the company's housing is made from an ultra-light aluminum mold that holds the GoPro Hero3 in place. On the front, you can attach either a standard flat cover or choose between a 5-inch and 8-inch dome port. Once the camera is in the housing, you can control the shutter with a thumb trigger or with the WiFi remote—if you're not underwater yourself.

Note: This isn't a dive housing, which means it’s not rated to go deep underwater. But it is splash-rated, making it perfect for other water sports such as kayaking, fishing, and surfing.



Betabrand and ENO collaborated to make the super fun, super shiny Disco Hammock.     Photo: Courtesy of Betabrand

Disco Hammock from Betabrand

Grab your bell-bottoms and get ready for a party in the backcountry.

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.



The On Cloudracer     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

On Cloudracer

The best shoe for speed work, and efficient runners with minimalist leanings.

The Cloudracer’s rubber springs are no gimmick. Though the Swiss-engineered shoe sports a thin, almost minimalist mid-sole, the rubber pads compress on each impact, so it takes almost all the sting out of the road while still feeling fast and low to the ground.

“I didn’t know what to make of this shoe at first, but I’m sold,” said one tester. The swap of rubber springs for foam cushioning should also boost the life span, and hot-weather runners will love the extremely breathable, all-mesh upper.

The bottom line: A tempo-run tool for the fleet of foot, but pronators and heel strikers should steer clear. 7 oz; 5 mm drop



Duckworth’s tailored collection of wool apparel is made entirely in the U.S.     Photo: Courtesy of Duckworth

Duckworth WoolCloud Snap Shirt

A jacket that can handle the trail but looks tailored enough for a dinner in Aspen—and is 100 percent American? We'll take three.

In the winter, we can’t get enough of these insulated wool snap-down shirts. They’re way more streamlined than many Stay-Puft-Marshmallow jackets, which means they wear well out to dinner, and they layer neatly under a storm shell when the forecast delivers wet, sloppy slush instead of light, dry flakes.

The Duckworth WoolCloud Snap Shirt caught our attention not only for its good looks. Launching this fall, Duckworth’s tailored collection of wool apparel is made entirely in the United States by the founders of former wool fashion apparel brand I/O Bio.

This is a coat   Photo: Courtesy of Duckworth

Follow Duckworth’s manufacturing process and you’ll see that it’s unlike the majority of wool-apparel makers, which source their wool from Down Under (most often Australia or New Zealand), send it to China to be turned into clothing, and then ship it to the U.S. to be sold.

Duckworth has beat this manufacturing process by sourcing all of its wool from the Helle sheep ranch in Montana and then sending it to the Carolinas, home to some of the few remaining textile factories in the U.S. The climate of the Rockies in Montana—hot, dry summers paired with freezing winters—nurtures wool that’s not only soft and breathable, but is naturally more crimped than other wool on the market, aiding its durability.

A jacket that can handle the trail but looks tailored enough for a dinner in Aspen—and is 100-percent American? We can’t think of a better package.



You know you want one.     Photo: Courtesy of the Coolest Cooler

The Coolest Cooler

High-tech cooler tops $4 million on Kickstarter

Sun lovers, take note: This is the cooler you need for all your summer beach trips.   

In what must be some kind of Kickstarter record, the Coolest Cooler project has already raised more than $4 million (more than 87 times its initial goal) with 46 days still left in its campaign.  

Considering this 60-quart cooler does about everything short of save you from a shark attack, we can understand the enthusiasm. The Coolest, which project founder Ryan Grepper calls a true “21st century cooler,” comes with: a built-in ice crusher (margaritas on the beach, anyone?); a waterproof Bluetooth-capable speaker; a USB port to charge your electronics; a cutting board; a gear tie-down; massive sand-proof wheels; an LED lid light; and a bottle opener.

Bottom line? It sounds like a helluva party in a cooler. You can currently buy one of these puppies, which should ship early next year, on Kickstarter for $165.  

$TBD, The Coolest Cooler


The carbon indoor trainer by Ciclotte     Photo: Courtesy Ezio Manciucca/Ciclotte

Ciclotte Exercise Bike

Suddenly your indoor trainer rides got a helluva lot more interesting.

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.   



The Hopper by high-end cooler maker Yeti     Photo: Yeti

Yeti Hopper

Company's first soft-sided cooler

Fishing guides and festival goers take note: High-end cooler maker Yeti just revealed its first soft-sided cooler, the 6.5-gallon Hopper that’s sealed with a waterproof drysuit zipper.

It’s got an inch-and-a-half of heavy-duty closed-cell foam for insulation throughout. We had no problem slinging it into a canoe, leaving it on the bank for fishing, or stowing it in the front seat of a car—without any leakage. At $299, the Hopper ain’t cheap, but if it’s anything like its roto-molded forebearers, it’ll last forever.

The Hopper will go on sale this October. 



The Pescador shirt has been proven to improve your chances of catching brown trout.     Photo: Nick Kelley

Howler Brothers Pescador Shirt

From the boat to the bar

The Austin-based clothing company, Howler Brothers, has developed a cult following since its launch a few years ago. With an authentic style suitable for lovers of both the ocean and high-mountain trout streams, Howler connects with everyone from the veteran fishing guide to the weekend warrior. 

The Pescador fishing shirt isn’t one of the company’s flashiest items, but it’s packed with performance features, and it's stylish enough to wear to the bar after wrapping up a day spent on the river. 

The shirt is made from a quick-dry polynylon blend with built-in UPF 15 protection. With two hidden mesh-lined pockets in the front and pearl snaps throughout, the Pescador’s straight cut is relaxed and won't inhibit your movements.