Review: The Other Stuff

Outside magazine, April 1999

Review: The Other Stuff


Gerber Sport Utility Pack
Glimpse the various works of functional art that make up the Gerber Sport Utility Pack and you may well experience a tinge of tool envy. But this stowable vehicle emergency kit ($333; 800-950-6161) proves plenty useful beyond mere ogling. Most impressive, perhaps, is the nylon-handled shovel that unfolds from the size of a paperback novel into a 23-inch digger with a forged-steel blade, for those dreaded occasions when you bury a wheel in a soft shoulder. So hardy is the pointed, boron-coated blade that you can lock it at a 90-degree angle to the shaft and use it as a pick, in case you encounter some terra that's obstinately firma. Indeed, finely honed ferrous blades are Gerber's forte. The SUP's folding saw (14.5 inches open) is a nastily raspy double-cut that makes quick work of hardwood logs. Meanwhile, the nine-inch hatchet turns hewing kindling into a study in ergonomics: Its fiberglass handle fits nicely in the palm and produces a perfectly balanced swing weight. And what would a tool kit be without, well, a multitool? Included in this mix is Gerber's popular 6.5-inch stainless-steel Multi-Plier, complete with needle-nose grippers that flick easily into position, as well as the usual passel of screwdrivers, knife blades, openers, and so forth. Unfortunately, if you were to slip and gouge yourself with any of the aforementioned implements, the rudimentary first-aid kit wouldn't be much help. But if you need to assess the wound in the dark, you'll appreciate the Mag-Lite, a two-D-cell torch with a bright krypton bulb. The entire collection snuggles tidily into individual, rattleproof compartments in a notebook-size, 600-denier polyester attach‰ case. Call it a portfolio for peace of mind.
ù Robert Earle Howells
Glow Dog Jacket
Proud as you may be of your dog's lustrous coat, it won't reflect headlights on a nighttime jog. The Glow Dog Jacket, however, boldly announces your exercise partner's presence to even the most inattentive of drivers. The shell drapes over your dog's back and straps around the neck and belly. Thanks to millions of aluminum-coated glass particles baked into the fabric ù a technology called Illuminite ù the coat becomes a glittering disco ball when hit with light. Best of all, the sartorial statement made by the Glow Dog ($30-$47; 888-456-9364) is decidedly more Fido than Fifi, with available colors ranging from a snappy blue to a tasteful charcoal.
ù Michael Kessler
Bibler's Tripod Bivy
For those who prefer to go solo, Bibler's new Tripod Bivy ($298; 970-963-4873) is an ideal shelter. An ingenious hybrid of a bivy sack and a tent, the two-pound, four-ounce Tripod receives its lone guest with a scant 16 square feet of floor space ù about half the area of a typical three-season structure for about half the weight. A domed upper section provides ample headroom (35 inches from floor to ceiling) in which to prop yourself up while attending to a book or a bowl of soup. The rest of the Tripod better resembles a coffin, but don't let that give you the creeps: It's expansive enough to maintain airspace around your sleeping bag or to let you cock your knees. And the length, at 90 inches, is more than adequate for the vast majority of humans. In addition to its size, the Tripod owes its light weight to single-wall construction; the combination ripstop nylon, polyester, and Teflon fabric is also waterproof-breathable. If you do start feeling stifled, you can unzip the door to let fresh air in through a broad mesh screen. Assembling the Tripod, which uses three aluminum poles, takes just a few minutes. If it seems a little saggy (and it will), take a few more minutes to stake it out and it'll be taut enough to turn back hailstones. All in all, not a bad way to carve out a little personal space.
ù M.K.
Keeping Waterproof
If H2O no longer beads on the surface of your waterproof-breathable jacket, don't sweat it ù the problem can be easily solved. Most such outerwear has the ironically named durable water-repellent finish, or DWR, to keep moisture from soaking into the fabric (in addition to some Gore-Tex-like barrier to keep it from soaking all the way through). When it wears off, you have a couple of good options for restoring it: Nikwax's Care Kit ($20; 425-303-1410) and W. L. Gore's Revivex ($20; 800-431-4673). Because the Nikwax kit requires you to completely immerse your jacket or pants, we recommend it for shells without liners ù there's no need to treat the extra material. Launder your outerwear with the mildly malodorous Tech Wash, soak it in the TX-Direct Wash-In, and then toss it in the dryer. If your garment has a liner, however, you'll be better off with Revivex, a nonaerosol spray. Simply squirt the water-based solution onto the garment and run it through the dryer.
ù Claire Martin

Photographs by Clay Ellis

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