Covet

A man lifts in a pair of camo Lululemon shorts.     Photo: Pat Young

Lululemon's The Towel

Camouflage your downward dog

Camouflage isn’t just for the backwoods anymore. Companies from Toms to Patagonia have been getting into the trend, and now Lululemon is also celebrating the style.  

Over the past few months, camouflage prints have started to sneak into the yoga and running products of the Vancouver-based company. Take its slip-resistant, microfiber camo yoga towel. It’s a basic yoga piece that works both as a quick-dry towel and as a soft cushion in the studio. Roll it out on top of your yoga mat for a gecko-like grip or pull it out after a dip in the river when you're camping. 

Avaliable in one size (71" x 26")

$42, lululemon.com

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Google announced Android Wear on Tuesday, a new watch software that will help users track their fitness and health.     Photo: Courtesy of Motorola

Apple's Healthbook and Google's Android Wear

If you believe the rumors, Apple plans to launch into the health and fitness world later this year with a software upgrade—and potentially some killer hardware. But it seems like Google might have beat the company to the punch.

While the Apple App Store currently offers excellent apps for working out, developers haven't integrated those apps with iOS the way they have with music, email, and maps. Until now. 

Many reputable Apple-related news outlets, including 9to5Mac, reported earlier this week that the Cupertino-based company plans to launch Healthbook—a health and fitness tracking feature—when it releases iOS 8 later this year.

According to recreated screenshots published by 9to5Mac, the app will use cards—similar to the iPhone's existing Passbook application—to track metrics like bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, oxygen saturation, and weight. 

While many current apps focus on fitness activity or weight and diet management, Apple seems poised to combine those features. It's not hard to see why a native iOS app that combines the utilities of multiple of its competitors could put other fitness trackers out of business.

Apple also made a few notable hires—Jay Blahnik, Dr. Michael O'Reilly, and Roy Raymann—last year that have fueled Healthbook rumors. Blahnik is a fitness expert who helped companies such as Nike expand into fitness tech. Reilly specializes in pulse oximeters, which measure oxygen saturation, and is likely contributing his expertise to the Healthbook team as well. Raymann is a world-renowned sleep expert who previously worked for Philips.

As with any Apple rumor, the Healthbook news comes with lots of questions and a huge caveat—this could all be speculation. For one, we're not exactly sure where the iPhone will draw the data for Healthbook—possibilities include the iPhone itself, third-party apps, third-party devices, or the long-rumored iWatch.

Speaking of watches, if you're looking to get your hands on some cutting-edge fitness tech before Apple releases the still-mythical Healthbook, look no further than the company's largest competitor. Google has beaten Apple to the fitness tech punch with its Android Wear, a new watch software. 

The blog post announcing Android Wear covers four key features of the new software, one of which is the "ability to better monitor your health and fitness." The other capabilities relate to speedy information access, an easy-to-use voice control interface, and cross-device operational abilities. Like the Android operating system, Android Wear will run on watches developed by other companies, like Motorola and LG. Motorola will release its Android Wear-supporting watch, the Moto 360, this summer.

Android Wear promises to help you "hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries." But its features don't exactly parallel Apple's, with the blog post suggesting that "your favorite fitness apps" will continue to provide you with your health data.

This raises a big question. After hearing the latest Apple news, is Google now hard at work developing its own native fitness hub for its mobile devices?

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Commuting doesn't have to mean sticky spandex and a sweaty back.     Photo: Aidon/Getty Images

Commute in Style

Your guide to looking fly on your morning ride.

Just because you ride your bike to work every morning doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice stylish clothes for workout wear. These four great items will help you look fly as you navigate the busy streets to the office. You might even inspire your colleagues to start commuting, too. 

Big Shot Bikes Single Speed/Fixie Make

Big Shot Bike in white   Photo: Pegboard Media

There’s no better way to navigate the urban jungle than on a single speed or fixie. Channel your inner bike messenger with a custom flip hub bike that you design online. It’s an art project: Big Shot gives you hundreds of color combinations to choose from. With a series of clicks, you pick frame, tire, saddle, tape, logo and pedal color. Add the handlebar of your choice, and then you’ll probably start again to see what another version might look like.

When you’ve finally settled on your look, click Buy Now, and about two weeks later, your dream bike will be on your doorstep. Big Shot bikes are steel and minimalist: simple, reliable and classy. They’re fun to build and fun to ride. Bikes arrive nearly assembled, but—unless you’re handy with a wrench, and vaguely bike-tech savvy, take your Big Shot to your local shop for a brake adjust brakes and once over to make sure it’s ready to roll. Then hit the streets on your custom machine and revel in the joys of pedaling a bike you designed. Be prepared to meet people: most color combos are guaranteed to get you questions.

Available now, $429

Bulletprufe Skate Denim

Denim jeans from Bulletprufe   Photo: Courtesy of Bulletprufe

In the mid-90's, Bulletprufe founder and avid surfer, kitesurfer, longboarder and mountain biker Will Fischer reinforced the cuffs of his jeans with duct tape to keep them intact. Now, he’s turned denim into performance wear built for extreme athletes without the duct tape reinforcements. “In the concrete-based action sports world, performance has taken a distant backseat to fashion,” said Fisher. “We're trying to change that. You wouldn't keep buying wheels that constantly chunked or carabiners that break after a few sessions.” 

Fischer’s quest has been to develop denim specifically made to withstand the abuse of action sports. After 20 different iterations of its jeans in the past thirty months, tweaking fabric blends, stitching and manufacturing methods, Fischer and his team settled on a proprietary blend of ballistic nylon with a dash of PET for strength, a healthy dose of super soft cotton for comfort and topped off with spandex to make it super stretchy. The result: Pants that look and feel like any pair of premium jeans. But take a spill bombing a hill on your longboard or scrape up against a rock face all day climbing, and you’ll see the difference.  And there’s nothing that speaks to a top quality product that makes big claims better than satisfaction guaranteed. If you're not satisfied, send 'em back for a full refund.

Oliberté Krabu Bag

Krabu bag from Oliberté   Photo: Bryan Lockyer

Oliberté, maker of fine leather shoes and bags, was founded in 2009 to build premium, product by African craftsmen as a way to create jobs and build sustainable communities by paying fair wages. It opened its own ethically responsible factory in August 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Now, Oliberte has 57 African workers who handle all aspects of the business from administration to pattern making, building an industry in a part of the world that desperately needs it. Leather for the shoes and bags use minimal water for processing, and it comes from free range cows, sheep and goats.

And once you’re done with your Olibertés, if you can't donate or reuse them, we will take back the shoes and recycle them. The Krabu has adjustable leather straps, a carry handle, and it clips shut with two buckles. The brushed leather has a delicious waxed finish. And it’s big enough to hold a 15” Macbook.

Icebreaker Men’s Drifter Hood

Icebreaker's Drifter hoodie   Photo: Courtesy of Icebreaker

Made from merino waffle jersey cut long in the back to keep you covered, the Drifter Hood will be a wardrobe upgrade. It’s better than that cotton hoody you’ve been wearing since college because not only will it need washing less frequently thanks to wool’s natural odor controlling properties, but you can wear it for hanging out, as well as when you need to look presentable.

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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, heritagebicycles.com

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Rundies feature a workout for every day of the week.     Photo: Oiselle

Underwear for Running Women

Get your rear in gear with Oiselle's Rundies and Randies

The only lingerie my husband ever gave me wasn’t lingerie at all. It was a seven-pack of Rundies, purchased from our local running store.

His intentions were good, though. I’m a dedicated runner, and as their name implies, Rundies are made for runners. Similar to day-of-the-week underwear, each colorful Rundie features a run-of-the-week on the rear. So, depending on your training schedule, you can wear REST, TRACK, TEMPO, FARTLEK, RACE, EASY 6, or LONG RUN on your ass. 

But there was a huge problem (and I’m not talking about the size of my rear end, although that, I suppose, is debatable). Rundies are 100 percent cotton. And although cotton is appropriate for a second wedding anniversary (which was the occasion for this gift), it is not an ideal fabric in which to log miles. It doesn’t breathe, it holds moisture, you get the idea. Ick.

So the Rundies got relegated to the non-running underwear drawer, mostly to be worn on lazy weekends under yoga pants or worn-out jeans. Thanks to their comfort and fit, they're still a favorite, just not for exercise.

The folks at Oiselle must have received feedback from ladies who felt similarly. Because in late 2013, the company released Randies, which are basically a performance-enhanced, slightly cheekier version of Rundies. Made from a seamless poly/nylon/spandex blend, Randies wick, stretch, and stay put when you’re on the move. You can run comfortably for hours on end, which I did regularly in preparation for several big races—several of which I won. Maybe Randies made me faster; instead of specific workouts, sayings such as LEAD FROM BEHIND or GET YOUR REAR IN GEAR are screen printed onto the butt.

The downside? They only come in a three pack, so you’ll have to do laundry if you want to Randie every day of the week.

So, guys, next time you want to get your lady lingerie, get her lingerie. If you want to get her sportswear, be smart and get her something that really performs—like Randies. We'll be happier, and (we promise) so will you.

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This cool gadget could change your garage forever.    

myLifter

Organize your gear shed.

Does all your gear seem to create an infinite pile that takes up more space than you could imagine? You might find myLifter to be the solution to all your garage woes.

MyLifter—a lifting device with a pulley system—is designed to seamlessly integrate into your garage. You can raise and lower the Bluetooth-capable gadget with an app on your phone. Then once you have everything in place, set smart points so all you have to do is click a buttom to retrieve an item. Each lift holds 50 pounds, but you can combine multiple lifts to haul heavier products. 

Bikes, bins, kayaks, extra equipment—the myLifter will carry it all.

$TBD, mylifter.com

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Android users can now take advantage of the UP24's cool features.     Photo: Courtesy of Jawbone

Jawbone UP24

Jawbone makes its excellent fitness tracker Android-compatible.

Late last year, Jawbone launched one of the best fitness trackers on the market—the UP24. The only catch? It was an iOS-only device. But now the company is expanding support to the Android platform, and techies of all stripes can get in on the fun.

Jawbone also released a corresponding app—UP 3.0—for Android users so they can take advantage of the gadget's new features, including Bluetooth-capability.  

Regardless of which mobile-phone temple you worship in, the UP24 is a fantastic fitness tracker. The water-resistant, lightweight, comfy device records your steps, sleep time, and calories—and now wirelessly transmits that information to phones running Android and iOS software.

The revamped app synthesizes all this information to draw conclusions about your daily and nightly activities, and then suggests daily goals based on those patterns. Like some popular alarm apps, the UP24 will help you wake up at the optimal time in your sleep cycle, and you can even scan the barcodes of snacks and beverages to track your diet.

The UP24's battery lasts about seven days and recharges in approximately 80 minutes via a USB port. You can choose between red and black and small, medium, and large sizes.

While the device doesn't have a screen so you can check results at any time, Jawbone's expanded mobile compatibility should help mitigate that issue. 

$150, jawbone.com

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Ryan Krogh's dog Nolie with the Whistle Activity Monitor.     Photo: Ryan Krogh

Whistle Activity Monitor

The best pet-monitoring device on the market—and one that could save your pooch’s life.

Let’s face it. Many dog owners take better care of their pets than they do of themselves. So it was only a matter of time before the increasingly popular fitness trackers—Nike Fuelband, FitBit, Basis—found their way onto the collars of man’s best friend.

Currently, there are about six pet-monitoring devices on the market. The more advanced ones do everything from record active time and rest time to pinpoint your pooch with GPS (and alert you via text if the pup heads out of her designated area).

Yes, this all seems a bit gimmicky. But it’s also a surprisingly effective way to make sure your dog gets enough exercise. And, based on one anecdote, the tracker could save your dog’s life. But first our favorite—the Whistle Activity Monitor.

The Whistle, which debuted last fall and retails for $129, is your basic tracker. An accelerometer—housed in a stainless-steel, waterproof disc—attaches to a collar and keeps tabs on active time and rest time, arguably the two most important stats to track. (More on that in a bit.)

The device connects wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth and will upload the data (it can store three-weeks worth) to the cloud via WiFi. It doesn’t have a GPS function like the popular Tagg The Pet Tracker ($100), but it also doesn’t require a monthly Verizon service plan, which Tagg does.

We also think it’s much more stylish than FitBark, which will retail for $99 when it comes out this spring.

The Whistle’s most effective feature is its easy-to-understand app—available for both Android and iOS. Instead of trying to get cute by offering points, it clearly states how many minutes your dog exercised and how many she rested.  

You can also add extra owners to the app, so it knows who is taking the dog for a walk. After you feed Fido, hit a food bowl–shaped button and it will note what time the dog was fed, a smart idea to avoid over-feeding when more than one family member does the chore. There’s a similar button and notifications for medications.

After three weeks of testing the Whistle Activity Monitor on Nolie, a yellow lab, and Ammy, a New Mexico mutt, the takeaway is twofold. First off, the tracker didn’t break, which is somewhat shocking given how often the device was dunked in water, caked in snow and mud, and exposed to below freezing temps.

Secondly, the app’s algorithm does a good job of recognizing when we were on walks, when the dogs were playing together, and when they were sleeping versus hovering below my feet in the kitchen, waiting for a scrap to drop.

As mentioned before, arguably the most important stats are active time and rest time, both of which Whistle charts. It’s clear why active time—the number of minutes your dog spends exercising—is important. But what about rest time?  

The accelerometer, which takes fifty measurements per second, is able to distinguish between the dog's actual rest time and time walking around the house sniffing the trash bin. This is important because, just like us, dogs will lie around much more when they’re sick, and the Whistle can recognize when a dog has been resting more than usual.

Whistle cofounders, Ben Jacobs and Steve Eidelman, related a story to me about a dog on the East Coast named Ripley who appeared to be getting much more “rest” than usual. The app recognized this and sent a notice to his owner, who promptly brought the dog to the vet. Turns out the dog had a serious organ infection, but the vet was able to prescribe medication in time to save the dog’s life.    

As the company continually updates its algorithm, the tracker will soon be able to identify even more nuanced movement that indicates potential health problems, such as arthritis or symptoms of a seizure. Whistle is already working with North Carolina State University to determine canine movement patterns associated with seizures. One day soon, you may be able to get a notice at work that your dog suffered a grand mal at home. Veterinarians may even be able to glean information from the device about reactions to medication—information they likely couldn’t get otherwise.

So yes, fitness tracking for a dog can seem a bit gimmicky and, well, obsessive. And like wearable tech for humans, the hype is currently outpacing the reality. But the future is not far off, and it’s damn intriguing. 

$129, whistle.com

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Get ready to play in the water with these 10 grooming essentials.     Photo: EpicStockMedia/Getty Images

Spring Break Grooming Essentials

Ten travel-friendly products to take you from sun and surf to a night on the town.

Headed to Daytona Beach? Cancun? The Bahamas? A glamorous backyard kiddie pool? Whatever adventure—and after-party—your spring break has in store, make sure your grooming gear is up to the challenge. That doesn’t mean you have to pack the whole bathroom sink: these key tools and clever multitaskers will have you covered, whether you’re playing hard on the water or partying down on the shore.

Jack Spade Waxwear Travel Kit

A plastic bag is fine for getting liquids through airport security, but it’s no substitute for a proper dopp bag. Jack Spade makes its Waxwear Travel Kit from sturdy cotton canvas and bridle leather that’ll withstand adventures and look great for years to come. An interior zipper-pocket center divider keeps the generous three-quart interior organized, while a fully waterproof liner guards the rest of your gear from spills.

$145, jackspade.com

Sun Bum Pro Sunscreen

Spring Break holds all the promise of golden tan replacing winter white, but for some of us the reality is painful lobster red—and an increased risk of skin cancer. Organizations including the North Shore Lifeguard Association, the Eastern Surfing Association, and the Skin Cancer Foundation recommend Sun Bum Pro sunscreen, available in broad-spectrum 30 and 50 SPF, for its hard-wearing formula that stays out of eyes and resists water for 80 minutes. You'll like it for its lack of greasiness and its unobtrusive natural-cocoa-butter scent. For lips, Sun Bum has you covered with SPF 30 lip balm in groovy flavors including coconut, key lime, and mango.

From $12.99 and 3.99, trustthebum.com

Gillette Fusion Disposable Razor

Vacation is the perfect time to give your skin a break from the razor. But if the mood does strike, don’t rough it with a cheap single-blade and a bar of hotel soap. Gillette’s Fusion Disposable razor pairs five ultra-sharp blades with a lotion strip for a quick, smooth shave—all the comfort of home without the need to pack it out with you.

$9.99, drugstore.com

Jack Black Beard Lube

Pre-shave oil, shave cream, and aftershave are the best tools for blasting a few days’ growth. They’re not very portable, though. That's why Jack Black packs all the essentials into its Beard Lube. Slather it onto wet skin as you get out of the shower, and by the time you dry off and pull out the razor, whiskers are softened and ready to go. The translucent formula glides off easily and makes it a cinch to see what you're doing, while jojoba, phospholipids, and heather extract leave skin soothed and moisturized.

From $11, getjackblack.com

Colgate Wisp

If you want breath that won’t strip surfboard wax, daily brushing and flossing are a must. But for après-lunch emergencies, carry a pack of Colgate Wisp. The soft-plastic pick and bristles get teeth cleaner than a stick of gum and still leave things fresh-tasting, thanks to the breath-mint-like dissolving bead. Pick-up-lines not included.

$4.99 for 16, target.com

Lush Squeaky Green Shampoo Bar

Salt, chlorine, sun, oil—all triggers for an itchy scalp. Lush’s Squeaky Green shampoo bar packs a powerful, calming punch into an easy-to-stash solid bar. Just swipe twice around wet hair and let the rosemary, nettle, tea tree, and chamomile lather get to work. Bonus: it also makes a great bodywash with zero TSA fuss.

$11.95, lushusa.com

Old Spice Fiji Antiperspirant

If you’re going to pack deodorant—and yes, please do—why not pack one that's on theme? Old Spice Fiji antiperspirant may not smell like sunshine and freedom—it’s more of a sporty wood-and-lime experience—but the blue surf and palm trees on the label evoke the feeling nicely.

From $1.39, walgreens.com

Badger Balm

Badger Balm is the Swiss Army knife of grooming product. Rub a bit on fingers and run through hair for a soft-hold pomade. Smooth some on sunburn and let the healing begin. Rub into hands to keep cuticles from cracking. Dab it on scraped-up skin for extra protection. Pat onto lips to keep peeling at bay. Just don’t leave it in a hot car or beach bag or you’ll have a hot mess on your hands.

From $5.99, badgerbalm.com

REI Day Hiker First-Aid Kit

Cuts, scrapes, stings, splinters, blisters, headaches, heartburn, allergies—wear-and-tear takes a toll on good times. REI has these basics covered with its 4-by-5.5-by-2-inch Day Hiker first-aid kit so you can focus on the next adventure without nagging reminders of the ones before.

$13.50, rei.com

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Don't let anything prevent you from cracking open a cold one at base camp.    

Pat’s Backcountry Beverages

Can beer concentrate compete with the real thing? Brent Rose puts two alcohol-packed flavors to the test.

We’ve written about Pat's Backcountry Beverages Carbonator, the Nalgene-size system for fizzifying your drink of choice where ever the trail takes you. And while we've talked about Pat's alcohol-packed beer flavors—the world's first beer concentrate, according to the company—we haven't put them to the test. Until now.

As a backpacker and a booze writer, when I heard about Pat's first two beer flavors (complete with alcohol!) I couldn't resist checking them out. After all, who among us hasn't fantasized about some sweet suds at the end of a long, hot hike? But could these “beers” pass the taste test of an admittedly picky beer drinker? The short answer—Yes.

For those unfamiliar with the idea, Pat's Backcountry Beverages Carbonator is a plastic bottle with built-in levers, valves, and cups. You add a mixture of potassium bicarbonate and citric acid to the small charging cup within the bottle, pull a lever on the cap a few times to add water, and a chemical reaction starts, releasing CO2 into your beverage of choice. In this case, your beverage of choice would be beer.

Pat's offers two flavors: Pale Rail and Black Hops. They both come in portable, 1.7-ounce liquid packets that you add to the water before you charge it. These packets are sold in four-packs for $10 a pop, which isn't too outrageous compared to your standard micro-brew.

It's worth noting that these aren't merely “beer flavored.” Founder Pat Tatera developed what he calls a “Hybrid Brewing Process.” The beer begins as a normal beer would, except once it's done fermenting, he vacuum-distills it. This pulls out most of the water and the alcohol, which Tatera sets aside, leaving a beer-like syrup. Then he restarts the brewing process, but instead of using water to create the wort, he uses the beer syrup. He repeats these steps four times, then soaks Cascade Hops in the reserved alcohol to extract their flavor, and combines that with the syrup. The result? A little packet of concentrated beer. Just add fizzy water.

I went through the process exactly as I would if I were in the field, using cold, bottled water to simulate filtered water from a stream. Despite Pat's claim that it's just three steps, there are several steps within each step, and you'd be hard-pressed to remember them all if you didn't bring the instructions. It takes approximately five minutes to brew each beer. Here's how they measure up to the real thing.

Pale Rail

The lighter of Pat's beers certainly has the look and color of a pale ale, but when you smell it, something seems just slightly off. It's unmistakably malty, and it has that fermented, beer aroma, but it's just a little, well, funky. It smells too sweet, as if it had spoiled a little. Tasting it was a pleasant surprise though. It's a little sweeter than I'd like, but the pale ale hoppiness is there, mostly in the after-taste. It doesn't have that sharp, citrusy flavor you typically associate with Cascade Hops, but at the end of a long hike, it would definitely scratch the itch. At 5.2% ABV, it'll put a little grin on your face.

Black Hops

The smell is a little cleaner on this one. You don't get much in the way of hops on the nose, but you get those dark, rich, roasted malt notes. It's dark and molasses-like, but not as syrupy as the Pale Rail. As soon as you take a sip, you’re hit by clean, sharp flavors. Nice and dry, although it does have a bit of a bitter after-taste. It is missing that fresh hop flavor—that grapefruity, piney, almost weedy pop—but overall, it's really good. If someone poured it for me at a bar, I wouldn't think twice about drinking it, and I be absolutely psyched to have it at the end of a trail. I would actually look forward to this at the end of a hike, not because of the alcohol content (6.1% ABV), and not because it reminds me of a beer, but because it actually tastes like a good, real beer.

 

So what’s the bottom line? While it's a struggle to get the drink as carbonated as you'd want (the best I ever got was analogous to a draft beer that had been sitting out for a good half-hour), the flavors are on-point. The Pale Rail is still a tad too sweet, but the Black Hops is most definitely worth the price of admission. I'm absolutely bringing it on my next trip, and if you're a beer lover, I suggest you do the same. 

$10, patsbcb.com

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Never slip again with these sturdy crampons.     Photo: Courtesy of Hillsound

Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

A lightweight, durable crampon for winter running and hiking

Is winter cramping your style and making New Year's resolutions like going for a daily run hard to keep?

When slippery conditions conspire against you, Hillsound’s Trail Crampon Ultra lets you run without fear of falling. Essentially chains for your foot, it slips over your running shoe to give you traction even on black ice. 

The Trail Crampon Ultra—made from strong stainless steel and featuring 18 spikes under each foot—is aggressive but still low-profile. With each foot strike, the chains and spikes dig into the ground without sliding on the shoe’s sole.

The slip-on design takes less than 30 seconds to put on, and it’s just as easy to take off even if you’re wearing gloves. You also don’t need to adjust the crampons while you’re out on the trail. I found the Trail Crampon Ultra works as well for winter hiking as it does for trail running, and it’s light enough to throw into your backpack just in case the route gets slick.    

$70, hillsound.com

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Meet the world's toughest duffle.     Photo: Courtesy of Function

Function Kit Gear Duffle

Luggage that’s TSA-proof

Dyneema is one of the world’s strongest, thinnest, lightest fibers. It’s used in body armor, motorcycle apparel, and life-saving rock climbing equipment. If there’s a piece of gear that sees a lot of wear and tear, it’s likely made from Dyneema.  

Frequent flyers know where this is headed. Luggage made with the tough material is especially well suited to withstand almost anything the TSA decides to throw at it. Ever had your underwear arrive one piece at a time strewn across other travelers’ bags? Now you see why a Dyneema duffel makes sense.

Function’s single-cavity monster duffels are made from Dyneema, nylon webbing, and tough YKK zippers. Big enough to hold an absurd amount of gear, they’re abrasion-proof—they won’t tear regardless of whether the abuse comes from a packed ice tool or a sadistic ground crew.

The bag folds down to the size of an envelope when empty, making it an exceptional spare pack big enough to fit any last-minute purchases. The duffels are made in Colorado, and are available now in 70L ($240) and 120L ($290) sizes.

From $240, function-snow.com

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Let drivers know where you are with the Blaze Laserlight.    

Blaze Laserlight

To keep cyclists safe on the road

Road biking is an inherently dangerous sport, and too often we hear about cyclists getting hit by cars. The Blaze Laserlight aims to fix that problem.

The laser projects a bright green symbol about 15 feet in front of the rider, which hopefully helps keep oblivious drivers from turning into the bike. 

The sleek light is rechargeable, USB-compatible, and waterproof. The light projects in flashing, low, and high modes, and won't turn on (and run down the battery) unless it’s connected to the bike. 

$200, blaze.cc

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Burton's Beeracuda    

Yoga Bags to Carry Beer—Not Mats

So your PBR can go incognito.

Close your eyes, relax your muscles, take a deep breath, and then crack a cold one. 

Burton’s Beeracuda insulated beverage sling—which looks like a yoga mat holder—is clearly the pet project of a designer who knows his mula from his bandha. To use before, after, or during class, the bag can keep five cans cool at any time. There’s also a koozie on the shoulder strap for a sixth open roadie. 

Burton calls its not-so-subtle beer print “Das Cuda,” but the Beeracuda will also be available soon in fishing and Hawaiian themes. When you’re practicing hot alternative yoga, you can upgrade to the double barrel sling, which accommodates 11 cans. And no, the Beeracuda won’t hold your yoga mat.

$20-$30, burton.com

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Add this funky snorkeling mask to your beach bag.    

Easybreath Snorkeling Mask

Making underwater breathing a cinch

Getting ready for spring break? You might want to check out the Easybreath Snorkeling Mask, which could revolutionize your underwater experience.

Snorkeling is an amazing adventure, but the mask and snorkel can be cumbersome and awkward. So Tribord—a French-based watersport company—started researching how to solve those issues. Its developers came up with the Easybreath Snorkeling Mask. 

Say goodbye to the traditional snorkel that forces you to breath from your mouth. The Easybreath has a full-face mask that allows for “natural” breathing and won’t impede your view of the reef. The mask gives you a wide field of vision and there’s a slick plug at the top of the snorkel to prevent water from getting in when you dive. The company claims the mask is completely fog-free. 

While it will make you look a bit like a colorful Darth Vader, the Easybreath does seem to make underwater breathing and exploring a cinch.

$55, tribord.com

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The limited edition Radical 2 binding with gold-colored components.    

Dynafit Gold TLT Radical 2

Add some bling to your skis.

The German company that brought alpine touring to the mainstream is celebrating three decades of business with a tribute worthy of King Tut—a limited edition Radical 2 binding with gold-colored components.

The new TLT Radical 2, which weighs less than a pound and a half, is designed to keep your boot secure thanks to play built into the toe. An extra wide mount area gives you direct contact with your ski no matter its width. Dynafit is plating 2,200 pairs of bindings, which will go on sale this fall. 

$600, Dynafit.com

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Meet the love child of two iconic Portland-based companies.    

Danner Light Beckel Boot

Canvas meets leather in this classic hiker.

When two companies that both make iconic products pair up, the result is usually pretty good. 

Portland-based Beckel Canvas Products—which has been making canvas-wall tents and bags since 1964—and footwear manufacturer Danner recently announced their collaboration on the Danner Light Beckel boot. Based on Danner’s classic Danner Light, each boot is handcrafted with premium full-grain leather and Beckel’s durable, water-resistant duck canvas quarter panels. 

This boot is lighter than the traditional Danner Light, and it features a grippy Vibram Gumlite sole and a highly breathable Dri-Lex liner that won’t trap sweat. The EE last is stable and supportive, and ideal for hikers with wide feet.

The boot is available in four styles—three for men and one for women. While the women’s boots won’t be available until May, you can buy the men’s products now. The shoes are all made in Portland, Oregon.   

$340, danner.com

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Go electric with the Copenhagen Wheel.    

The Copenhagen Wheel

Turn your regular bike into an electric hybrid.

The geniuses at MIT have created a new wheel that turns your regular pedal-powered bike into an electric hybrid. All you have to do is swap your back wheel for the Copenhagen Wheel, which has a sleek red hub to house all the technology. Download the app to your smartphone, and you’re ready to start riding.

The smart wheel learns how you pedal and then stores energy when you’re braking or going downhill. The motor—which provides up to 10 times the power you’re capable of putting out—automatically kicks in when you need a push. You don’t have to spend several thousand dollars on another bike—just get the wheel and you're ready to go electric.

$799, superpedestrian.com

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Arcade has developed an almost cult-like following among skiers and riders.     Photo: Courtesy of GP Martin

Arcade Belts

Purpose-built for active people

Arcade makes nearly perfect belts—they’re washable, dryable, durable, stretchy, and they have a buckle you can wear through airport security. Simply put, they’re really good at keeping your pants up. With its products purpose-built for active people, the company has developed a cult-like following.

Take the black and red plaid Atwood, one of Arcade’s original belts. Made with a slim, commercial-grade polymer buckle and super tough elastic, it will likely last you for many seasons. 

Arcade will debut three new styles of belts very soon: braided—the company’s strongest elastic belt to date; hybrid—a mix between a leather belt and an Original; and minimalist suspenders. The company is also rolling out a subscription belt program soon. For a flat fee (price to be determined), fans can get new designs and signature swag delivered to their door every month. One size fits all.

Starting at $24, arcadebelts.com

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Most of these trees have fallen victim to the mountain pine beetle, but thanks to a few companies, the dead wood isn't going to waste.     Photo: Tim Gage/Flickr

Making the Best of Beetle Kill—with New Gear

“Blue-stain pine” used to go to waste. Now companies are using the wood to make outdoor lifestyle products—and the trend is growing.

For more than a decade, drought conditions have set the stage for a mountain pine beetle epidemic throughout millions of acres of forest in the Rocky Mountain West. Standing dead lodgepole pines pose a safety risk when left by roadsides or in campgrounds, and state agencies have struggled to clear out the hazardous wood.

But it hasn’t all ended up in the chipper. Seeing opportunity in the timber, various designers in Colorado and Montana have manipulated the wood into everything from cabinets to coffins. Weston Snowboards founder Barry Clark says he created his business out of the desire to do something productive with the surplus pine. “You walk outside the front door, and it’s just depressing to see so much of this wood,” he says. “I thought about how I could use it in a meaningful way.”

Though once considered waste, “blue-stain pine” is now in vogue, partly because it comes mottled with blue-gray streaks from a fungus carried by the bugs. Below we've complied a list of beetle-kill wood products to serve your outdoor lifestyle—and remind you of the delicate state of the woods out west.

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