Covet

The Bird's Nest by Bertil Harström of Inredningsgruppen     Photo: Courtesy of Peter Lundstrom / WDO

The Bird's Nest

Disappear into the trees

Attention bird lovers and tree house aficionados. This shelter lets you truly disappear into the forest.

The Bird’s Nest in northern Sweden is a one-of-a-kind structure. Supported 19 feet above the forest floor by three spruce trees, it’s like a bird house built by some prehistoric flying giant.

The 12-foot-high hideaway—accessed via a retractable metal staircase—is completely encased in sticks and twigs. And although it might look small, the 55-square-foot circular nest has enough beds to accommodate a family of four (as long as the kids aren’t too rowdy or too big). Stacked bunks curve around one section, while another houses an adult-size bedroom, complete with a concave fireplace. There’s even a small bath and eating area.

Bleached blonde wood lines the nest’s interior—there’s vertical paneling on the walls, knotty wood floors, and wooden bookcases in the main sleeping area. Cove lighting gives the circular retreat a warm glow, while windows (almost invisible from the outside) let in natural light.   

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DJI made some major changes to the popular Phantom 2 Vision     Photo: Courtesy of DJI

DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter

Better gimbal, better drone

A revolutionary adventure filmmaking drone just got some serious upgrades. And we're impressed. 

Only a few months after releasing the Phantom 2 and Phantom 2 Vision quadcopters, DJI unveiled a new model with some major changes aimed at aerial photographers and filmmakers. 

The Phantom 2 Vision+ carries a three-axis gimbal, (the original just had a single axis), plus it's faster and it can film at a 90-degree tilt. While the Phantom 2 opened the door to aerial photography and video, the Vision+ looks to take these flying cameras to the next level.

The Vision+ update also includes an integrated GPS system that allows users to automate flight paths and hover in the same position even with wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour. The new drone has double the WiFi reach, expanding control range to 2,000 feet. The smaller-profile camera still shoots 1080p at 30 frames with 14 megapixel still images. The latest quadcopter even has a "no-fly-zone" feature that prevents the drone from flying into regulated areas like airports.

The Phantom 2 Vision+ is now available online for $1,300—just $100 more than the previous Phantom 2 Vision. The latest Vision+ is the best ready-to-fly drone for novice aerial photographers, but if you're worried about resolution and camera control, the Phantom 2 with a Zenmuse gimbal and the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition is still hard to beat. 

Looking to get into the drone game? We tested some of the most popular models and outlined the best ways to get airborne

$1,300, dji.com 

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This is a great camera pack for urban and travel adventures.     Photo: Courtesy of Mountainsmith

Mountainsmith Spectrum Camera Bag

Designed for urban commutes, short hikes, and air travel

It seems like everyone is a pro photographer these days. With an iPhone and an Instagram account, you’ve got an entire photo studio in your pocket.

But what happens when you want to step it up? Any real photographer will tell you that once you upgrade your gear, you need a way to transport and take care of it. Enter the Mountainsmith Spectrum camera bag.

With input from National Geographic photographer Andy Mann, Mountainsmith designed the Specrtum for urban commutes, short hikes, and air travel. I fit a laptop, iPad, GoPro, DSLR plus accessories, a jacket, and a snack into the Spectrum’s deceptively large 12 liters, with room to spare.

The pack’s 500-denier high tenacity nylon fabric is more durable and waterproof than most will need, but it's great when the going gets rough. There’s even a built-in rain cover if things get really wet. Keeping your gear organized is a breeze with the pack’s side access pockets, which I used for my camera and laptop. Eveything else went into the top pocket. Bonus: the pockets are completely customizable.

Take note that while the Anvil Airway Suspension does a nice job keeping your back cool, loads much heavier than 10 pounds will max it out. That's to be expected with a pack of this kind, but it's still something to take into account. 

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The Copper Cube Tree House by Baumraum Architects     Photo: Courtesy of Markus Bollen

Copper Cube Tree House

Take refuge under an ancient oak

You will relish the simple life in this lakeside tree house near Berlin. This self-sufficient four-legged home is the weekend retreat you’ve longed for.

The wooden terrace embraces the ancient oak that supports it via steel cables. You’re about 15 feet above the ground here, so soak up the great views and breezes. You can touch the tree’s canopy through any of the cube's windows. Even the stars seem within reach through the skylights.  

On chilly evenings, warm up in the copper-clad cube with all the amenities that an adult tree house should have—heat, electricity, bath, and shower. (The utility lines are cleverly hidden within one of the stilts.) There are plenty of inviting lounges, all masquerading as storage units.

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The Mio Alpha    

Mio Alpha

One of the best new heart-rate monitors on the market

Most heart-rate monitors require you to wear a bulky chest strap with a sensor that constantly needs to be moistened in dry, cold weather. But the Mio Alpha isn’t like most heart-rate monitors.   

The watch-like monitor takes accurate, continuous heart-rate readings through your wrist—no chest strap required. 

In workout mode, multi-colored LED lights let you know whether you’re below, within, or above your target heart-rate zones. It connects via Bluetooth with your phone so you can integrate your stats with Strava, Map My Run, and other apps. The easy two-button navigation lets you see your exercise time, average heart rate, and the period you spend “in zone.” It also has a clock and continuous heart-rate display.

$200, mioglobal.com

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The Stacked Cabin by Johnsen Schmaling Architects     Photo: Courtesy of Johnsen Schmaling

Hide Away in the Wisconsin Woods

The Stacked Cabin, nestled in a forest near Muscoda, Wisconsin, is the perfect Midwestern retreat.

The designers of this cabin had to contend with a limited budget and a hilly, wooded site, but they still managed to create a stunning, environmentally-friendly retreat.     

This family getaway is stacked on three levels to minimize impact on the forest. A simple natural autumn palette works inside and out, and metal-covered walls and cedar-framed windows all sit on top of a poured concrete foundation.   

The ground floor, notched into the hillside, serves as a workroom, storage unit, and washroom. The open main floor features huge glass windows overlooking the forest. 

A kitchen and open sleeping area flank the light-filled, spacious living room. A tiny window-wrapped study tops the cabin with extraordinary 360-degree views. Overall, it’s a pretty sublime Midwestern escape.

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Oakley's Frogskin LX sunglasses—a blast from the past.     Photo: Grant Cornett

Oakley Updates a Classic

An iconic pair of sunglasses make a comeback.

When I tell people that I haven’t changed much since the eighth grade, they usually laugh. But I’m not kidding. I still like the same things I did as a prepubescent Midwestern boy—tennis, Saskatchewan, strawberry-rhubarb pie. When I instinctively crank the radio to “Electric Avenue,” I’m reminded of how little I’ve actually evolved.

This happened the other day, too, when I first glimpsed Oakley’s new Frogskin sunglasses. Seeing them, I recalled the summer when E.J., an older and infinitely more worldly neighbor of mine, showed up to baseball practice with a pair of the original Frogskins. If there was anything cooler than those translucent frames and gleaming purple-mirrored lenses, it had yet to arrive at the local mall. The new ones, called the Frogskin LX, are even more impressive. The lenses are now polarized, and the handmade acetate frames are sleeker. Otherwise they’re pretty much the same. I bet E.J. bought a pair, too.

From $120. 

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Velocio launched earlier this year with women's clothes, but the company now offers men's options, too.     Photo: Courtesy of Jason Davis/Velocio

Velocio Bike Kit

A new company launches into the cycling apparel world

Look good, feel good, ride better. That’s the idea behind the new cycling apparel brand Velocio, which launched earlier this year.

When Kristy Scrymgeour, owner of Team Specialized-lululemon, and veteran racer and designer Brad Sheehan founded the company, they wanted to make a stylish, high-tech kit that would be as comfortable—and as high performance—as possible.  

Velocio developed a proprietary fit to support anyone from a casual commuter to an international pro. Designers built compression into the kit, streamlined the chamois, and paid close attention to details ranging from leg grippers to zipper pulls.      

Women’s clothing launched first, but men have options now, too. Velocio’s premium Italian Lycra bib is supportive and durable—it’s made from high-gauge yarns to prevent bagging and aid muscle recovery. It feels like a second skin. 

The aerodynamic jersey is made from soft, stretchy fabric with ceramic to regulate temperature and resist odor. Four back pockets—including a water-resistant zippered one—hold your essentials.

Jersey ($160) and bibs ($200), velocio.cc

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The Gryphon is one tough watch. And it looks good, too.    

Reactor’s Gryphon Watch

Leave the Rolex at home

You'd never take your flashy work shoes to go hiking, so why take your fancy watch on a camping trip?

The Gryphon by Reactor is built for the outdoors—scratch-, impact-, and water-resistant. But the watch is no heavyweight. In fact, it’s 50 percent lighter than similar water-resistant, stainless steel watches on the market, according to the company. Reactor uses a glass-reinforced polymer for the cover that has a tensile strength stronger than steel. There’s also a stainless steel core to keep the connections watertight.

The strap is made from a nylon webbing that’s co-molded with a silicone and natural rubber compound to keep the band from absorbing any dirt that you manage to kick up.

$350, reactorwatch.com

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The Casa da Praia do Felix by Vidal e Sant'Anna Arquitetura     Photo: Courtesy of Fran Parente

Casa da Praia do Felix

The ultimate Brazilian tree house

In this leggy structure high in the Brazilian treetops, your cares (including your phone and laptop) must be left on the ground. Up here, posts, beams, steel tension rods, and waves of glass are the only things separating you from unparalleled views of the sea and jungle.

Supported by twelve posts, the home is accessible from a hillside staircase and a wooden deck. Your only chore? Choosing your favorite spot, be it in the first floor bedrooms, the multi-purpose living level, the small reading nook, or on the large deck where you can gather with your friends. There’s also a private studio for morning yoga or an afternoon nap.

Arched laminated wooden roof trusses reach toward the sea and extend the roof over the walkways to keep you dry during the region’s frequent rainstorms. This ultimate tree house wisely gives you equal inside and outside space. If you’re worried about privacy, the jungle conceals the home from the street and the bath has solid walls. Besides, all eyes will be on the view. 

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Kolman Boye Vega Cottage     Photo: Courtesy of Åke E:son Lindman

Vega Cottage

Modern comfort in a stunning, rugged landscape

This summer home is the stuff of dreams—isolation and spectacular outdoor activities just steps from your front door. The cabin, with its rustic wood exterior, blends in with the natural landscape. After all, when you’re in a place like this, an island in the Norwegian archipelago near the Arctic Circle, it’s best to let nature do the talking. 

Taking cues from seaside huts, two conjoined gable-roofed rectangles rise from the rocky terrain. The wooden structure is clothed inside and out with pine, both silvery grey and pure white. Unfinished birch trim creates an exquisitely detailed and subdued interior. The comfort of inside stands in sharp relief to the rugged landscape framed through the cabin's huge windows.

Curl up by the wood-burning fireplace on the ground floor. And just before hitting the sack, you can stargaze from the two upstairs bedrooms, which are tucked under the open gable with large skylights. 

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Chaco is redefining the meaning of barefoot feel.     Photo: Courtesy of Chaco

Chaco Barefoot Z

The world’s lightest minimalist sport sandal

Chaco is taking minimalism to a whole new level.

So light you’ll barely even notice it, the new Barefoot Z strips has zero unnecessary features. In fact, the sandal lacks what some walkers might consider essentials, including a traditional midsole and outsole.  

Forgoing the restrictive design cues of most shoes, the Barefoot Z securely holds your big toe in place with Chaco's jacquard webbing. It’s a true paleo design that—unless you’re feeling masochistic—is best suited to mowed lawns, patios, and your living room. But diehard minimalist runners will likely appreciate this sandal’s barefoot feel and will take it up and over gnarly passes.      

“The Barefoot Z, to me, represents the culmination of a quarter-century of Chacos’ research and development of the ultimate sport sandal,” notes Chaco Ambassador, Brendan Leonard. “I’ve worn mine for hiking, trail running, bouldering, and even a few pitches of ice climbing. Really, if you want to go truly light and fast in the mountains, I don’t know why you’d wear anything else. Including clothing.”

$TBD, chaco.com

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Yeti wants you to R.I.P.     Photo: Courtesy of Yeti Coolers

Yeti Coolers Casket

For die-hard outdoor enthusiasts

After testing Yeti Coolers' Tundra 110, I can't think of a more respectful way to have my physical remains ushered into the ground than inside a Yeti Casket.

This roto-molded, double-walled, nearly indestructible coffin comes with a tasteful satin camo liner. And while the polyethylene casket is pricey, when I break the $4,114 down over the eternity I will rest inside it, the price feels, well, insignificant.

My decay would be seriously delayed thanks to the thermoregulating qualities of two inches of Permafrost insulation—twice the industry standard for coolers, according to Yeti. (Admittedly, I'm not sure about insulation standards in the coffin industry.)

Thankfully, it's grizzly-proof—and likely worm-proof. And, after seeing how well the Tundra 110 kept beers cold, I can well imagine how peaceful I'll be inside a Yeti when I'm just another cold one.

$4,114, yeticoolers.com

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Would you ever watch TV outside?    

SunBrite Outdoor TV

Are you ready to watch this week's "Game of Thrones" season premier surrounded by nature?

Yes, it sounds almost sacrilegious to watch TV outside (don’t we get enough couch-potato time as is?), but you have to admit it might be nice to watch the season premier of Game of Thrones outdoors. 

The folks at SunBrite were apparently thinking the same thing. The company's HD televisions are designed to be rain-, dust-, insect-, and humidity-proof. They will also work in temperatures from 122 to negative 24 degrees Fahrenheit.  

You can mount the TV onto your patio or somehow configure wires to the tent in the backyard. We're still waiting for the camouflage version. 

Starting at $1,495, sunbritetv.com

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Go ahead. Crack open a cold one as this gadget mows the lawn for you.    

EcoMow

A personal robotic lawn mower that runs on the grass it cuts

We have vacuums that move without a push and calculators that do math for us, but where's the technology to lighten yard work chores? Wouldn’t it be nice to never mow your lawn again?   

EcoMow designers must have been asking the same question. The group, founded by a team of engineers and business students from George Mason University, have solved the problem of big yards and long grasses. The EcoMow is a self-run lawn mower that fuels itself with the grass it cuts.

You also don’t need to drive it—at all. The EcoMow uses Google Maps-driven software that’s compatible with Android devices to navigate your yard. All you have to do is input the layout of the lawn and then go make yourself a drink.

$TBD, ecomowtech.com

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This is the tool kit bike pros are using.    

Pedro's Master Tool Kit 3.0

An $800 setup for the wannabe pro mechanic

You’ll never waste time scrambling for an allen wrench again with Pedro's Master Tool Kit 3.0

Co-developed by professional mechanics from the Garmin/Slipstream road bike team and the Luna Chix mountain bike team, this kit has everything you need and more to fix your bike.

The well-organized, indestructible, lockable, watertight, pressure-regulated case comes with 64 professional tools. The mix includes multiple configurations of tinkerers’ beloved hex, as well as many more exotic offerings. (Bonus points if you know what a vise whip is.)    

The tools are all for the mechanically inclined, except for maybe the beverage wrench—useful to those of us who have never even fixed a flat.   

$800, pedros.com

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Shinola's American-made watch boasts Swiss precision timing.     Photo: Courtesy of Shinola

Shinola Runwell Watch

Made in Detroit

Shinola is supporting American workers in a big way.

The bicycle manufacturer and crafter of fine leather goods built a watch factory in Detroit to help reinvigorate the job market in American’s original manufacturing city. Its first project? The Runwell, a hand-assembled timepiece made from 84 of the most precise Swiss-made components available.

Shinola makes two watch styles for men and three for women. The latest iteration of the signature men’s Runwell is the Runwell Sport Chronograph. An Argonite 5021 high-accuracy quartz movement drives the hours, minutes, date indicator, and stopwatch. Its 47mm stainless steel case has a double curved sapphire crystal to make this timepiece a real beauty.

$900, shinola.com

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These products all use microcrystalline wax—the same thing you put on the bottom of your skis.    

Ingredient Spotlight: Microcrystalline Wax

Your winter gear and grooming goods have something in common.

The stuff that makes your snowboard glide is also what gives your lip balm grip—microcrystalline wax. This biodegradable petroleum byproduct is used in board and ski waxes because it’s stickier, more flexible, and slower to melt than paraffin or beeswax. That’s why it’s also used in products for hair and skin, where it locks in active ingredients and seals out the elements. A few of our favorite examples:

Neutrogena Men Razor Defense Face Scrub

A good pre-scrub makes for a closer shave, but it can also weaken your natural defenses against irritation. Neutrogena Men Razor Defense Face Scrub sloughs away blade-dulling debris and lays down protective conditioners. Your razor won’t carve quite as smoothly as a fresh-tuned pair of skis, but your skin will appreciate the endurance boost.

$5.99, neutrogena.com

Bumble and Bumble Sumowax

There’s nothing dignified about cowlicks—or shellacked helmet hair. Bumble and Bumble’s Sumowax puts things in place and keeps them there while remaining nearly undetectable. Don’t let the rock-hard texture fool you: just let the warmth of your fingers (or a quick hair-dryer blast) soften a dime-size dollop, coat fingers, run through hair, and pretend you rolled out of bed looking this good.

$28, bumbleandbumble.com

Jack Black Lip Balm

For epically chapped lips, nothing beats this little blue tube of Jack Black Lip Balm. The vitamin-E-enriched formula infiltrates even the craggiest skin and SPF 25 protects against irritating rays. It comes in a handful of tempting flavors, including Black Tea & Blackberry and Grapefruit & Ginger, though only Shea Butter & Vitamin E and Natural Mint & Shea Butter can be called unobtrusive. A word of caution: don’t lay it on too thick unless you like it glossy.

$7.50, getjackblack.com

Degree Men Clinical+

Heat and moisture will inevitably conquer any antiperspirant, but Degree Men Clinical+ holds its own for longer than most. Apply before bed, when sweat is least likely to interfere with absorption, then spend the day playing hard without stressing about odor or pit stains.

$7.99, target.com

IcyHot Pain Relieving Stick

We love a good ache-soothing muscle rub, right up until our fingers inadvertently apply it to our eyes. IcyHot sidesteps this painful user error with its no-mess Pain Relieving Stick. Menthol gets right to work on sore spots and the nongreasy formula keeps it there—and off your clothes.

$6.99, walgreens.com

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The world's smartest grill.    

Lynx Smart Grill

A voice-activated, Wi-Fi-enabled cooking machine

Whether you grill every night or secretly have no idea what to do when it comes to flipping burgers, Lynx's Smart Grill will help you impress at spring parties. 

This is one intelligent voice-activated, Wi-Fi-enabled gas grill. It takes pretty much all the guesswork out of cooking the perfect slab of meat. The Lynx can determine cooking temperature and time, when to flip your burger, and it will even send you a text when the food is ready.

The grill cooks food based on voice commands, so all you have to do is answer a few questions about the meat of the night and the Lynx takes care of the rest. Spend more time with friends and family while the Smart Grill prepares a great barbecue.  

You’ll have to make due with your Weber for at least one more season though. The Lynx isn’t set to go on sale until sometime next year.

$6,000 to $7,500, lynxgrills.com

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Yes, this is a camera. And it's pretty cool.    

360Fly Camera

The widest viewing camera in the world

Sure, you might look a bit weird with this gadget attached to your helmet, but we predict the 360Fly Camera will soon become ubiquitous.

The widest viewing camera in the world, it goes beyond the limits of current action cameras. With its full 360-degree horizontal view, you can capture stunning live panoramic shots as you ride down the mountain.

It also shoots at a very respectable resolution of 1500 x 1500 pixels at 30 frames per second. To put that in perspective, high-definition GoPro footage is 1980 x 1080px, or 1080p HD. 

Attach the 120-gram, waterproof camera to a tripod, helmet, or bike and instantly capture, edit, and share your footage. It’s compatible with either an iOS or Android app.

$449, 360fly.com

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