The Gear Our Editors Loved in August
What we used to hit our summer stride
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Is it just us, or does it feel like just when you’re getting the hang of summer it starts to slip away? Welp, August is the beginning of the end, whether we like it or not. Here’s what our staff used to squeeze the most out of it.
Autumn Bell Bucket Blue Denim Hat ($38)
Sure there are drinks and tunes of the summer, but I’m also into having a hat of the season. Last year, it was the Tilley Raffia Hat, a light and breezy wide-brim straw number that added a hint of class to any outfit. (The exact style has been discontinued, but this new version gives off similar vibes.) This year, I was looking for something a little more casual, and this trendy bucket hat from Autumn delivered. Slightly oversized—think more Paddington Bear than Gilligan—and durably constructed out of light denim, it performed well on both hikes and walks around town, providing ample sun protection and breathability. I’m already eyeing the nylon camo version—perhaps next summer? —Kelsey Lindsey, senior editor
Big Agnes Ditch Rider 32 Liter Daypack ($170)
One Saturday in August my wife and I took our four small kids for a hike along the top of the Sandia mountains where it was a cool 50 degrees. Knowing I’d need layers to keep everyone regulated and happy, I stuffed the Ditch Rider with 12 thin jackets—two for each of us—and was very happy to have the roll-top feature that allowed me to extend the top of the bag in order to fit all of them. During the hike I was constantly asked for snacks and water so I was also very happy to have a back-panel zipper that allowed me to splay open the rear of the pack so I could quickly and easily access the contents of the main compartment. These features helped this busy and slightly overwhelmed dad have a very successful outing with his family. — Jakob Schiller, contributing writer
Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoody ($50)
I hate the feeling of sunscreen on my skin—I much prefer wearing a sun hoodie to protect my arms and neck. But many sun hoodies are too thick for the intense sun here in New Mexico so I often feel overheated and miserable. All of this is why I was very excited to test the Altitude, which is by far the lightest-weight sun hoody I’ve ever worn. Made from an ultra-breathable polyester, it was a champ at dumping heat and sweat while also keeping me from getting a sunburn during various activities, including gardening, hiking, and walking the dogs. It’s so thin the company does not give it a UPF rating. With that in mind I probably won’t use it if I’m sitting on the beach for six or eight hours straight. But I am glad to have it as a sunscreen replacement for activities up to a couple hours. —J.S.
Mustang Survival Khimera Dual Flotation PFD ($230)
For me, summer in Montana is all about rafting. And my rafting trips this season have been more comfortable than usual thanks to this life vest. By combining foam and inflatable flotation aids, the Khimera delivers both assured safety, and low-profile ease of use. It’s far less bulky than all-foam PFDs, and its secure over-the-head fit hugs your body without creating hot spots, even during long hours pulling oars into a head wind. If you do fall in, the foam will provide 7.5 pounds of buoyancy on its own, and a CO2 cartridge will instantly add another 13 pounds with the pull of a handle. —Wes Siler, contributing editor
Pink Moon Midnight Melody Body and Hair Oil ($42)
The summer is always a little hard on my body. The days are long, sunny, and dry, and I spend them on the river, up in the alpine, or sweating off sunscreen on my bike. I find that there’s a point-of-no-return with my skin and hair, usually hit after a few days romping around the desert, where things like lotion and conditioner just won’t absorb. Enter this sweet-smelling, super-nourishing body and hair oil. Packed with ingredients like sunflower, meadowfoam, sweet orange, ylang ylang, and amber oil, it makes my skin and hair soft and glowy—so I can play outside as much as I want without transforming into a little desert lizard. —Abigail Barronian, senior editor
Rapha Women’s Trail Lightweight Tank ($70)
I have this breezy tech tank in white, which is an important detail because I like it so much that I routinely wear it for four bike rides in a row without washing it. That would feel less notable if it were black, but damn, this shirt looks so good I still feel 100 in it when it’s tie-dyed with mud. I don’t love most mountain bike clothes, and I’ve never found a bike jersey that felt like it did a better job than a regular workout tank or a cotton t-shirt. But this cleverly cut top manages to look like a cool oversized muscle-tank while also feeling feminine and flattering. Made of featherweight recycled polyester, it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. —A.B.
Kids Ride Shotgun Child Seat & Handlebars Combo ($185)
Raising a child in Boulder County, Colorado means subjecting yourself to an annoying keeping-up-with-the-Joneses dynamic around outdoor sports and activities. This is, after all, the town where youngsters shred double-black diamonds and ascend 14,000-foot peaks. As risk-averse individuals, my wife and I are unquestionably tame within Boulder’s outdoor parenting arms race—we have yet to even take our three-year-old daughter camping. But earlier this year, my wife purchased the Kids Ride Shotgun Child Seat and Handlebar combo, and the device allowed us to have outdoor adventures that, as cautious parents, we thought we’d never enjoy. The small child seat mounts to the top tube of your mountain bike (sorry, no road or gravel rigs) fairly quickly, and a small set of handlebars easily affixes to yours. I’ve now taken my daughter on multiple hours-long rides on legitimate bumpy, rocky singletrack all over Colorado’s high country. We sing together on long grinding climbs, and she squeals “bumpy!” on the descents. She waves at other riders on the singletrack, many of whom are gobsmacked by the sight of a toddler bumping over rocks and logs on technical trails. She talks about our latest ride (“we rode in the creek!”) for days afterward. I feel secure and stable doing all of this—peace of mind that allows me to enjoy the adventures and know that I’m pursuing them for our mutual enjoyment, and not to keep up with Boulder’s uber parents. Our time using the Shotgun is limited, as my daughter will soon graduate to her own bicycle. But for this short window in time, the device has given me memories on the trails that will unquestionably last a lifetime. —Frederick Dreier, articles editor
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Hoody ($130)
I have had the Kor Preshell Hoody for three and a half years, and worn it enough for a close friend to remark upon how often I wear it. I’m in it for the weightlessness. Intended for active wear without overheating, it’s super thin, light (4.3 ounces), and comfortable. I use it hiking, outdoor climbing, and in the climbing gym, since they are often kept cool. Either this jacket or a similarly thin windshirt are always in my gym bag. The hoody is highly breathable and treated with DWR. It packs into its own pocket, so it goes easily into a day pack, hangs from a harness during long climbs, or slips into a travel carry-on. —Alison Osius, senior editor
ROLL Recovery R1 Massage Gun ($129)
I’ve never really warmed to any percussion massagers before, preferring foam rollers, The Stick, or Roll Recovery’s R8 spring-loaded roller massager. But I became a convert after using the R1 compact massage gun almost daily during August to release post-workout tightening as I gained fitness after a spring ankle injury. Other percussion massagers likely feel as good, but they’ve always seemed loud, cumbersome and complicated. The R1 is only five and a half inches long, weighs a mere 1.3 pounds, and doesn’t require an app or make me choose from numerous modes: one simple button cycles through four speeds of muscle-and-tendon relief. The 40-watt motor is remarkably quiet and powerful enough I can press into an aching calf as hard as I want without bogging the massager down. I love the solid feel of the aircraft-grade aluminum case, and how long the massager holds a charge—I can go more than a week without thinking about it. I still use the rolling massagers for larger muscle maintenance, but for targeted work on specific small areas I’ve got a new tool I’ll keep using. —Jonathan Beverly, senior editor
Giro Women’s Havoc Pant ($170)
I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect mountain bike trail pants, and I think I might have found them in Giro’s Havocs. For starters, these pants look sharp, with a slim fit that still accommodates pads as well as the more muscular quads and calves I (and many cyclists) have. The zipper and button closure, and traditional front pockets, make them look more like a pair of casual pants than technical wear. But technical they are: the material is the lightest and most breathable that I’ve tried, and laser-cut perforations on the lower-back panel and most of the way down both legs kept me cool even on a hot summer day at the bike park. I haven’t tested them in the rain yet, but the light DWR finish will probably buy me a little time if I get caught in a storm. —Gloria Liu, contributing writer
Keen Detroit XT Waterproof Boot ($185)
Finding a boot for trail work is no easy task. It needs to hike well under heavy loads for many miles while also stopping a rogue Pulaski from chopping your toes off. For years, I’ve used a pair of trusty Detroit XT boots from Keen. I can comfortably hike 10 miles over uneven terrain while hauling all manner of saws, shovels, and axes. That’s thanks to a cushy, supportive dual-density EVA midsole, snug heel counter, and wide toebox. It’s waterproof—important while bushwalking through dewey, overgrown trails—decently breathable, and has an optional steel toe, which has successfully saved me from at least three trips to the emergency room over the years. The one downside? Even looped around the top eyelets, the laces are just too dang long. —Benjamin Tepler, gear editor
Flame King YSN5LB 5 Pound Propane Tank Cylinder ($44)
This little five-gallon refillable propane tank weaned my family off the wasteful green Coleman propane canisters we usually burn through. We spent the month camped on the coast near Crescent City, California, and while it is a dream month for my wife, myself, and our four year old daughter, we always felt guilty about the two to three green single-use canisters we put in the landfill at the end of each week. Enter this stout little number (my buddy who turned me on to it gave it the name the Mini-Pig). Paired with this adapter hose, we’re no longer using single-use canisters, and have saved $40 in the process. —Joe Jackson, Gear Guy