The Other Stuff

Outside magazine, September 1997

The Other Stuff

Suunto DP-65 Global Compass
Flying into sydney, kathmandu, or santiago, your flight attendant may remind you to reset your watch — but what about your compass? Just as the earth has different time zones, it has different magnetic zones. There are five in all, and they can render a compass useless: That unit you bought in Boulder (zone one) will leave you directionless in the Australian outback (zone five). The new DP-65 Global from Suunto ($70; 800-543-9124), however, is designed to work in all corners of the earth.

A conventional compass relies on a magnetized needle that's balanced to work in a particular zone, so if you take it elsewhere the needle goes haywire and can't give an accurate reading. The genius of the DP-65 Global is that the arms of the needle aren't magnetized themselves. Instead, a cylindrical magnet acts as the hub of the needle and spins on a bearing; it simply can't tilt side to side. As it rotates to find north, the needle — unencumbered by any magnetic field — follows suit, like a propeller. Together, they can take on any zone.

Even those who don't travel the backcountry abroad will appreciate the DP-65 Global. A responsive needle helps you find your way under cover of fog, and a generous sighting mirror will help you navigate when surrounded by canyon walls. And finding the difference between magnetic and geographic north is a cinch: It requires no calculations, because you can set it to automatically correct for declination. The two-ounce unit slides neatly into a matchbox-size plastic case. In all, it's a great instrument, whether you're the globe-trotting type or you just need a new compass. — Michael Lanza

Platypus Collapsible Water Bottles
Hydration systems are the talk of the trailhead these days. does your bite valve work well? How do you clean yours? Can you put gin and tonics in that thing? It makes you wonder about the fate of the common water bottle, which suddenly looks rather ungainly. But in a saving move, Cascade Designs has reinvented this simple accessory in the form of the nifty, collapsible Platypus ($3.50-$6.25; 800-531-9531).

Not surprisingly, it vaguely resembles the reservoir of a hydration system. Constructed of three-ply, high-quality plastics with tearproof welds, it's stiff enough to stand on its own but is pleasantly unobtrusive; stuff it in a jacket or jersey pocket. Available in 0.66-, 1.0-, and 2.5-liter sizes, the Platypus flattens as you drink from its wide-stream spout, and when empty you can just fold, roll, or otherwise stash it away. The inner layer is made of food-grade polyethylene, which keeps that volleyball taste from leaching into your beverage. The outer layers can bear the brunt of nature's elements and are meant to withstand repeated freezing and boiling, which means the Platypus can double as an ice pack, a sleeping bag warmer, or even a makeshift highball glass. — Michael Kessler

Art Lee Fishing Shirt
A vest is the fly-fisherman's tackle box, which is nice, except that after several seasons of stuffing it to the gills with ever more gear, wearing it becomes a pain in the neck. Internationally acclaimed angler Art Lee wanted a better way and so helped outdoor clothiers Willis & Geiger design a shirt to do the work of those signature vests, but with enhanced comfort and style.

An even more industrious take on safari wear, the Art Lee Fishing Shirt ($98; 800-223-1408) evenly distributes your payload over arms, chest, shoulders, and back by way of 11 thoughtfully laid-out pockets. One immediate advantage is that they're cavernous: At 11-and-a-half inches deep, the two main chest pockets will swallow the largest of fly boxes, conveniently stowing your array of temptations in one spot. Two more double-buttoned chest pockets prevent small tools from sneaking out, and Willis & Geiger makes good use of the sleeves with a wallet-size pocket on each arm. Finer points include pouches to keep hook-out hemostats and thermometers handy, and grommet-reinforced tabs on the chest to keep hooks and such from wearing holes in your new tackle box.

Willis & Geiger has outfitted everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Papa Hemingway, and the shirt's construction is of appropriate quality. It fits wonderfully, with a double-gusseted back and articulated sleeves, allowing you to cast with seemingly topless freedom. The fabric is a proprietary, high-twist, 340-thread-per-inch "bush poplin" that's breathable and yet dense enough to turn away morning mist and Alaskan mosquitoes. Now, when the evening hatch is done, you'll be up for trading fish stories rather than rooting around for the high-test ibuprofen. — Jerry Gibbs

Photographs by Leigh Beisch

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